As a kid, I remember the distinct moment I realized that Christmas was over. There was the vague recollection that there was an immense month full of joy and anticipation, and then the glorious event itself. All the evidences of the joy of Christmas were still with me, bits of wrapping paper could still be found under the sofa if I looked, but the build up and excitement had been deflated. In a word, all that we had been hoping for had come and gone as quickly as a breeze. And although I had all the joys of a successful Christmas morning, there was still a stale reminder that everything I hoped for had come and gone.
What should I do now? As mentioned, joy was present, but there was also a small reminder that I would have to wait a whole other year before I delighted in Christmas joy again. Here I was thinking about the joys of Christmas that had just transpired, and yet it felt like a fleeting moment.
My wife has a post-Christmas tradition that has slowly infected me. Every December 26, we listen to a song by Christian songwriter Matthew West called, “Day After Christmas”. West’s lyrics hit the nail on the head in pointing towards our propensity towards melancholy and finding an appropriate solution. He writes, “Here comes the letdown, Christmas is over …. there goes the cheer. But before we have a breakdown, let us remember, the Light of the world is still here.”
Have you ever considered that? Perhaps the overwhelming angst that people experience Christmas after Christmas has little to do with the event itself as much as the false hopes that a commercial Christmas brings. We know this experientially, but rarely does it penetrate deeply enough into our hearts. Why is it that December 26 comes across as one of the saddest days of the year? Quite simply, it’s because we bought into the lie that December 25’s goods could bring us the peace and joy for which our hearts most chiefly long.
One of the greatest minds in all of Western Civilization was an African pastor named Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430). Augustine’s work “Confessions” provides ancient medicine capable of redeeming us from our modern maladies. He writes, “[O God] You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Book 1.1).
Is it any wonder then that we have a perpetual dissatisfaction when the things we receive on December 25 fail to bring this peace on earth and goodwill toward men? I’m not saying that gifts, or family visits don’t elicit joy, for they certainly do. But they can never deliver the deepest joy and peace for which our hearts long. And many of you this week experientially can confirm this.
I look back to the wisdom of Mr. West who points us in the right direction when he writes “The light of the world is still here” Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV) Jesus, the light of the world has come down and no one can put His light out. It does not matter what people may say. It does not matter what day it is, or where you are. You have a better shot of putting the sun out with a water gun than of removing the Light of the World from our midst. As John the Apostle writes, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4 AV) I pray that as you may be drawn into the winter blues in this season of Christmastide, may this time until Epiphany remind you most wonderfully, “the light of the world is still here.” And it has come to rest in our hearts if we believe in Jesus Himself, the Light of the World! Merry Days-After-Christmas!