The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
New Year’s Eve has always seemed to be a holiday I observed much more than I fully participated in. If I watched the ball drop on TV or attended a party, I could certainly witness the excitement lots of people seemed to experience when the movement from one moment to the next also signified the move from one year to the next. I just never could get all that enthused.
Maybe that’s why I have tended to view New Year’s Day as less a holiday in its own right and more a marker of the end of the holiday season. Seeing it that way, I have typically taken it as an opportunity to get some stuff done. By then the tree has long stopped sucking up the water we put in the stand, and we’re ready to be done sweeping up the needles on the floor beneath it. So, we haul the boxes up from the basement, put the ornaments away, and drag the tree out to the curb for pickup. Our readiness to move on is often confirmed by the rhythms of our consumer culture as after-Christmas sales are almost immediately followed by the appearance of Valentine’s Day candy on store shelves.
Not so in the text from Luke for today. There we find that time is moving much more slowly. The infant Jesus is still to be found in the manger. And shepherds have only just arrived. Word is just now getting out about what God has done in the world. And all who are hearing that news are amazed. And Mary is reflecting on what has transpired. What an incredible journey she has been on—from the annunciation through an entire pregnancy to birth. And now she encounters people coming from near and far to see her infant son.
Reading this text today I am quite simply stopped in my tracks. Why am I in such a hurry? Why do I insist on moving on to the next thing so quickly? To what end? Why not remain in Christmas with the shepherds, and Mary, and Jesus? Why not reflect more on what God has done and is doing?
As we begin to move out of the “holiday season” mode, let’s remember that Christmas remains. May we pause amidst self-imposed or culture-encouraged impulses to move on to the next thing and take the time to be present with everyone in that stable. And may our time in that scene pose powerful questions about who it is we worship and who it is that he calls us to serve. Amen.
- Sue Trollinger