Christmas 2014 has been put away. I miss it already. The beautiful (and large) trees are disassembled and packed strategically in their original tiny boxes which defy and challenge the physical laws of mass and volume. The Santa Claus figurine collections lie safely wrapped in their storage container. The Nativity scene—the one thing I find very difficult to put away every year—is still displayed and currently survives one post-Epiphany January day at a time.
But it’s not the decorations I miss, or the television specials, or the music. It’s not even the Nativity scene I’ll be longing for when it eventually finds its way back into its foam and cardboard box, tattered and worn from years of excited, young hands unpacking the pieces.
The thing I miss most is that feeling of Christmas.
The joy. The spirit of the season. The anticipation and preparation of Advent. The light.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Salina (KS) Diocese wrote in his Christmas message of his annual anticipation to read the opening prayer of Christmas Midnight Mass:
O God, who have made this most sacred night radiant with the splendor of the true light, grant, we pray, that we who have known the mysteries of his light on earth, may also delight in his gladness in heaven. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. – The Roman Missal, 2011.
Bishop Weisenburger writes, “But the great proclamation of Christmas is that the darkness around us ultimately is not who we are; nor is it our destiny. No, we are called to be a people of light. And in the radiant splendor of the Christmas night, God’s faithful are able to see the blessings that overwhelm the dark shadows of life. Christmas proclaims that we walk in the light of Christ and our true destiny is to dwell forever in that radiant splendor.”
The Christmas Eve Mass opening prayer has stuck with me since I first read it in Bishop Weisenburger’s message published in our diocesan newspaper the day after Christmas.
Sure, the decorations of the Christmas season are packed away now, but God’s Christmas gift of the light still shines. In the darkest and coldest days of the year, when our lives and our world seem, at times, to spin frightfully out of control, we should not forge ahead blindly into the darkness. We have the light. We’ve been given the radiant splendor.
The light of Christmas is meant to be displayed in our hearts, minds, and actions all year. We do not need to pack it away with the beautiful decorations, the plush snowman doll, or the three wise men. Let the light of Christmas shine in full, radiant splendor all year. Show the world the power and the peace and the goodness of God by allowing our own personal beam to burn bright.
Keep our light strong by fueling and polishing it through prayer and good works.
The darkness of the world is not who we are; nor is it our destiny.
We are called to be people of light.
Let it shine!
Copyright 2015, Mike Hays