Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Holidays Are Not Over Yet!

From the January newsletter of Messiah Lutheran Church, Marysville, WA

Whew! I’m tired! All those services … midweek Advent services, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, then two Sunday services immediately the following day! All that partying … family dinners, staff parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations! Now it’s time to take down the tree, put the decorations away, move the kids’ new toys to their rooms, write thank-you notes, and start that diet to work off all that extra caloric intake during our holiday festivities.

I always have mixed emotions this time of year. I get a little melancholy when I see Christmas getting so quickly stashed away for another year (and much quicker in the departments stores!). On the other hand, it’s nice to be able to rest after all the hustle and bustle that accompanies the season. Another bonus is the lengthening of days which helps to alleviate a bit of the winter blues which afflict some of us.

But in fact, the holidays are not over yet! New Year’s Day in the Church is actually the day we commemorate “The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus.” Eight days after his birth, what happened to every Jewish baby happened to Jesus. When he was circumcised, Jesus was placed under the Law’s obligation as a member of the covenant community … and kept that Law perfectly for us. What’s more, this is the first time that the Son of God shed his blood on his way to shedding his blood at the cross to atone for the sins of the world. He was given the name Jesus, which means “The Lord Saves” … an appropriate name for our Savior.

Next comes "Epiphany." The word “epiphany” means a “manifestation” or a “showing forth.” Jesus was manifested to the world – in particular to the Gentiles, with the Wise Men from the East being the first Gentiles to worship the Savior – as the Savior of the world. Throughout the Epiphany season, we see how Jesus manifested his divine nature at his Baptism, through his miracles, and through his authoritative teaching. We will celebrate Epiphany on January 6 at 7 pm here at Messiah with a service of Evening Prayer. The following Sunday (Jan. 9) we will then celebrate "The Baptism of Our Lord."

So, you see, the holidays are not over! There’s more to come, even in the “slower” month of January. But for Christians, every day is a holiday … a holy day (Rom. 14:5-6; Col. 2:16-17; 1 Tim. 4:4-5). In fact, that’s where we get the word “holiday” from. Every day is a holy day for us because we have been declared holy through faith in Christ. Every day we live in the light of Christmas and Epiphany. Every day we remember that in our Baptism we are joined to the one who was manifested to us as the beloved Son of God in the waters of the Jordan. Every day we live in the light of the cross and the empty tomb where Jesus was victorious for us over sin, death, and the devil.

Today is a holy day for you in Christ! Celebrate your victory in Christ each and every day. That doesn’t mean you have to decorate and throw a party. All the special festivals that we have would become commonplace if we pulled out all the stops every day. It’s good to save some of the “hoopla” for certain days. But don’t let that stop you from rejoicing in what Christ has done for you even on the days that don’t get a special note on the calendar. Consider every day a holiday in Christ … and rest in his peace and joy!

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken

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