The Day After The Day
My family has a small, wood-framed chalkboard on the wall in our kitchen that my granddaddy made years ago. Occasionally we use it to work out math problems if we’re doing homework together, but for the most part we use it for countdowns. We love to do countdowns with our girls. We countdown to birthdays—and with five birthdays in the next four months, we’ve got a lot of countdowns coming up! We countdown to spring break. We countdown to summer. We count down to big events. We count down to Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And in all these years, we’ve never counted down to December 26.
Today is December 26. Today is the day after the day. All the buildup for Christmas, and then in a blink, it seems, Christmas has passed.
When I was a kid, December 26 was a letdown. 95% of my Christmas toys had already lost their luster (no offense if you’re reading this, Mom and Dad!). I might have gone outside with a new BB Gun, or played a new game on the Nintendo, or strutted around the house in my new Reebok Pumps, but there was a lot of down time, a lot of feeling like, all of that, for this?
I wonder how December 26 feels for you. What do we do on the day after the day, when family has all gone or is leaving soon, when the celebrations are in the rear-view mirror, when the gifts have been opened and there’s not much left to look forward to?
Today, on the day after the day, we need to remember that Christmas isn’t about one day of the year—Christmas isn’t only about December 25—Christmas is about every day of the year.
Christmas isn’t about the one day when Christ came in Bethlehem, Christmas is about the truth that Christ has come. It’s an event from the past that has a continuing effect and significance today. It’s not by accident that Matthew’s gospel both opens and closes with the truth that in Christ, God is with us. He is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23) and he promises he will be with us always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Christ didn’t just come to a manger in Bethlehem, Christ came to dwell among us, and even after he ascended into heaven, he has sent us his Spirit to be with us. He came as Immanuel, and he always is Immanuel.
Today, and tomorrow, and January 17, and March 23, and July 9, and August 30, and November 12, and all year long, we live in light of the truth that Christ has come. December 26 may have been a letdown to me as a kid at times, but every day matters to the Christian, because every day that we live in Christ, we live in the presence of Christ.
We have a member at Mountain Creek who likes to say “Merry Christmas!” throughout the year. He signs his email with it, he has it on his voicemail greeting, he will say it to you when you leave a conversation with him. I don’t know if he drinks out of a “Merry Christmas” coffee mug year-round, but if he doesn’t and if you know who I’m talking about, that would be a great gift for him next year!
I would imagine that he gets a lot of comments about that. “Merry Christmas?! It’s August!” And I would imagine that he gets a lot of open doors for gospel conversations from that. But in addition to those open doors, I love the reminder that Christmas isn’t about one day, Christmas is about every day. Christ has come, Christ is with us, so let us rejoice!
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.