“What?” I can hear you exclaim. “I thought that Jill’s ‘We Gather Together 14’ series ended yesterday. Why am I hearing from her today?”
Well, as I worked on the series each day, I realized that I could not stop on December 25th. You see, today is the “day after.” (Now, some of you are like us. We are planning several other “Christmas Days” later this month. So, Christmas is not over for us yet. But, stick with me – my point is for everyone.)
Do you remember the “day after” following other big events this past year?
- What did you do the “day after” your last birthday?
- How about the “day after” the memorial service?
- What about the “day after” the baby was born?
- Or, the “day after” that car wreck?
Sometimes the “day after” is as memorable as the “day of.” But, usually we don’t remember much about our “day after.”
Mary and Joseph had to have been struck one their “day after” the birth of the Messiah by one important fact: this isn’t over. In fact, Jesus’ birth was just the beginning. There was no end to this family’s story.
And, there is no ending to the story that you and your loved ones are writing. As a younger brother told his older sister, “You’re stuck with me.” No matter how joyous (or not) our celebration of Christmas was yesterday, it is now the “day after” and we have to deal with the activities that follow: taking of trash to the curb, repackaging leftovers, making the drive home, putting away the Christmas tree, etc.
There is a “day after” in the Old Testament that has always concerned me (Genesis 29). Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel and had worked 7 long years to secure her hand in marriage. The marriage celebration was held and the wedding night was over when Jacob learned that Rachel’s father had substituted Rachel’s older sister, Leah, for Rachel. Jacob had married the wrong sister. (How stupid was Jacob? All I can figure is that Leah must have worn some pretty impressive veils for Jacob to have been that confused.) Jacob was furious and ended up working another 7 years for Rachel’s hand in marriage. (However, the girl’s father allowed the wedding ceremony to take place just a week after the first ceremony.) Eventually, Jacob married both sisters.
How did those three people feel on the “day after” that first wedding:
- Jacob had been made a fool and he was embarrassed and angry.
- Rachel had been used by her father to get her sister a husband.
- Leah was married to a man who had been tricked into marrying her and her new husband was in love with her sister.
That “day after” was bad, but the days that followed had to be worse.
Have you been there, asking yourself “How on earth did I get here?” Joseph probably wondered if he could take Mary home knowing that others did not understand the unique parentage of Jesus. Mary had to have her own questions. Hallelujah: the best news was that the God who had sent messages through angels before that night had gone nowhere. God was still there, loving, listening, guiding and caring for their little family.
The calendar says that this is the “day after” Christmas. Is it a day of new beginnings for you? Will what we have learned about gathering together shape our words and actions this next year?
“The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1)