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The Day After Christmas

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen Luke 2:20

            The people of the Christmas story—what amazing people they were!
            Or were they?
            I believe the chief trait they shared was their ordinariness.
            Take the Shepherds for example.
From their story we learn ordinary people are not disqualified from an experience of God’s glory.  Aren’t we tempted to think they are?  Shepherds were people on the fringe of society, looked down on.  They couldn’t keep the conventional ceremonies, freely mingle with other citizens.
            There are people in every community, this community, on fringes.  To them the church may appear remote, scary because they are peopled by establishment, privileged citizens. Those in the church may look down on them, not understanding their hesitancy about participation.
            In this story it seems God says, “I will not let you think that in some rare place and privilege life will attain its infinite fulfillment” (IB).  Eternal holiness and beauty are not barred from most mundane, or even undesirable place or circumstances.  Jesus lived his life out among the ordinary.
            In fact, even when we experience God’s glory, we must return to the ordinary, everyday life with all its trials, struggles and pain. The shepherds returned.
            That is always a hard road—to go back, back from “shining happiness to humdrum things.”  As someone has pointed out: Ewes still miscarried, animals still preyed, sheep get lost, children get sick and die, neighbors disdain.  There are the pressures of the bottom line, difficult customers and a temptation to cut corners for profit.
            There can easily be a letdown after Christmas.  We can forget the mystery, the vision.  So we adjust to the “ordinary world” instead of believing it can be made over because of what we have seen and heard. (“determined it won’t change me” story)
            But there are the lasting elements of Christmas.  The day after there was “Glorifying and praising God.”  We need to remember that the highest happiness has its source in God.  The shepherds remembered and the ordinary did not undo what they had experienced.  It was focused in something very simple and human.  God is not distant, remote.  What they had seen would reach out to unlimited consequences.  They did not know how, did not understand, could not see the future.  But when we have come into contact with the one who holds the keys to human destiny even though we may not understand we can return to face life, confident of God’s nearness and God’s control.

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