The wrapping paper is pushed aside, the tree stands dull, though still decorated, in the living room, the stockings sag empty, and all that's left is the faint echo of laughter and stories to tell. Christmas, so far as we celebrate it, has come to an end and the world's moving on toward its next big thing. The days are now filled with looking back and looking forward.
Looking anywhere but here.
We're looking back over the things that happened in a year that's drawing to a close. News programs are reminding us of things we've long since forgotten, or that seem to have happened in so far removed a time and place from today. We're reliving the headlines, flipping through the photobooks, creating memorial videos of our 2014s on Facebook, sorting through the stacks of paperwork that have come in in 12 months. We're remembering lost loved ones and close calls. We're rejoicing in triumphs and new opportunities. We're treasuring the good, mourning the bad, and making plans to do it all over again next year. (Except, of course, "better.")
And we're looking ahead to that next year, to what life may bring our way in the days and months to come. We're thinking about the things we'd like to do differently, the things we'd like to do better, the commitments we're going to make to ourselves, to our families, to our communities...to our God, maybe. We're dreaming of what life will be like when we accomplish our goals - when we quit smoking, when we lose weight, when we eat better, when we graduate high school or college, when we get married, when we have children, when we make amends, when we...whatever it is we want to do when the calendar finally rolls over and all the pages are blank for the filling.
It's one of the great deceptions of our time. And maybe we've been doing this for thousands of years and it only seems so poignant in 2014 because these are the days in which we're living or maybe there's really something about us these days, but this is one of the great lies that our world has fed us and all too many of us are ready to believe: that after Christmas, there's just this lull of six days to gather ourselves before something new and incredible happens.
Hate to break it to you, but something new and incredible just happened. And if you're counting the ticks until midnight, you're missing it.
Because there's still a little baby boy, born in a manger. There's still the Son of God come down. There's a Promise among us. And it's new every morning, even this morning.
It's the great myth of December 26, the day after Christmas, when this world will do all it can to keep you looking any which way but here. To keep you looking back or looking forward but never really looking around, never taking the time (which is both running out and coming anew) to see what's going on here. And what's going on is that if you look, if you really look, you can look into the eyes of Jesus. He's here. He's right here.
Don't get lost in days like these. Don't buy the lie that there's nothing new going on here, that whatever is new was yesterday under the tree and tomorrow under the ball and there's nothing to see here, nothing to get excited about. Because there's everything to see here, everything to get excited about.
There's a boy in a manger.