Christmas continues for (at least) twelve days. It straddles two years on the calendar.
There are two errors about Christmas time which are all too prevalent. The first is that “Christmas is for children.” Now, it is true that Christmas is for children, but to reduce the Incarnation to a simplistic, sentimental and nostalgic scene is to miss the message of Scripture.
We need to teach our children the Christmas story, but we also need to pray about and struggle with what the birth of Jesus means for us as young people and adults. Christmas is for children, but it is not only for children! Even children seem to understand that as they bring their own gifts to the world in need.
The second is that “Christmas is always a happy time.” There is a difference between joy and happiness. Christ was born not only for our happy times but also for our darker times. It may be that those for whom this year has brought a great deal of agony are the ones who can and will best comprehend the Good News, that we have a Savior who is Immanuel, God with us.
Frederick Buechner some years ago preached a powerful Christmas sermon entitled “The Face In The Sky”:
(Because of Christmas) those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of humanity. If holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and recreate the human heart, because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully.