My family and I had a lovely Christmas Day yesterday. I trust yours did as well. After a busy and eventful Sunday and Monday, we enjoyed a leisurely morning unwrapping presents before heading off to a mid-morning matinee (the Grinch!). Later in the day we had some friends over for Christmas turkey and pie. We capped the day off with a little facetime with some family members back in Wisconsin, and fell asleep watching TV. It was glorious.
December 25th. So much fun.
And then there is December 26th… what the heck do you do with that day?
I wandered down into the basement this morning where my three sons were busy at work with some of their new toys. “Happy 2nd day of Christmas” I wished them. My son Gabe looked at me quizzically. “I thought the 12 days of Christmas were the ones before Christmas?” he said. “No, no,” I replied, “Christmas started yesterday. We’re in it now.”
I don’t think the message took. Ethan, my oldest looked at me and said, “December 26th. Worst day of the year.”
I think that statement captures the sentiment of a lot of people. There is all the energy and joyful blur of the post-Thanksgiving sprint to Christmas Day… a glorious December 25th… and then… the day after. When, rather reluctantly, we “return to normal,” whatever that means. December 26th. Worst day of the year?
Indeed, today is the “2nd day of Christmas” in which we recognize that the Light that came all those years ago is to be carried courageously into the world until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. In fact, today, many Christians around the world today will celebrate – the dreaded December 26th – the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first Christian to give his life for the cause of Christ, the Light, praying this prayer as they do:
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
December 26th. The glory and the grit of being a people of the Light.
This morning, to be perfectly honest, I woke up relieved. On December 26th I usually do. I like it when the consumeristic rush of December is over… when the noise of yuletide commercialism dies away… when the hype fades… I rise and think, “What is the work now? What have you given me to do, Lord? Make me useful, and industrious, and creative, and courageous. Help me labor for the Light.”
Indeed that is the call laid at the feet of every believer. And the work is everywhere.
In your homes, in your neighborhoods, and your places of employment – labor for the Light.
In the marketplace and the city square and in every hall of power to which you have access – labor for the Light.
For the poor and defenseless, for the wanderer and refugee, for those without food or shelter, friends – labor for the Light.
In the face of self-aggrandizing, rapacious, runaway human power – labor for the Light.
To see the kingdom come and the will of God done and the the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God reach to the ends of the earth, brothers and sisters – labor for the Light.
That’s the work today. The glory and grit of being living testimonies to the Light that shines incomprehensibly and unconquerably in the darkness.
Labor for the light.