The Presence of Christmas
by William Arthur Ward
Christmas is not just a season,
Christmas is not just a day,
Christmas is more than a reason
For parties, presents and play.
Christmas is truly the essence
Of joy that the Savior brings;
Christmas is surely the presence
Of Jesus, the Kings of Kings!
The seasonal parties are over: the office party, school party, family Christmas parties and the year-end celebrations. All that remains for some is a day on the couch spent with college football bowl games.
The presents have all been opened. The wrapping paper and battery packaging is being recycled or headed for the landfill. The newness and excitement of some presents has already worn off for some. Some may be broken from exhuberant use upon being opened by enthusiastic children. For some the bill will come due in next month’s credit card statement.
It’s no wonder we’re worn down from all the play. The miles traveled via highways and airways. Preparations for hosting parties or traveling to them. Christmas shopping, holiday programs at school. Church services. Putting up all the decorations during Thanksgiving five weeks ago and most are putting them all away just a few weeks later. Stored in boxes and totes and carried up or down stairs. Christmas has been “put away” for another year.
Only it has not been put away. You or I can no more put away Christmas than we can stop the sun from rising in the east each morning. It is always Christmas somewhere where its essence lives and its joy is present.
Today the Church commemorates the feast of St. Basil the Great (330 – 379) and St. Gregory Nazianzen (330 – 389), two friends from the 4th century. I read a quote from St. Gregory this morning in one of his sermons in which he was talking about he and St. Basil’s lifelong friendship, pursuit of learning and of holiness. At it’s end he said:
Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.
The pursuit of that end, to be Christian, is to experience His essence and His joy. He is present in us and through us. In this way we will always have Christmas.