On the day after Christmas I saw a Facebook post depicting a crying child standing in front of a Christmas tree. I thought that maybe the child didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas, or that maybe their new favorite toy already had broken. It was neither. The caption along with the image said, “364 days left until Christmas!” In a recent conversation with a member of our church, the member shared how it’s always a little depressing after Christmas, because all of the anticipation and preparation leading up to Christmas is over in about ten minutes; now everything goes back to normal.
In Luke 2 we read of the time when angels broke into the silence and mundaneness of the shepherds’ routine to announce the good news that our Savior had been born. What a spectacular and exhilarating experience for them. No doubt, they would remember that moment for the rest of their lives. They excitedly went to Bethlehem to witness the Christ who had been born, and then they spread the news of what had been told them about him (2:16-17). But in Luke 2:15 it says, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven….” We love excitement and the thrill of something new. But how do you handle the more routine things of life? The thrill of the moment did not last forever, even for the shepherds. The angels were there, but eventually (and quickly) they left.
In January it always seems like the angels are gone. The lights and decorations are taken down; the excitement of Christmas is over, and the cold days of winter settle in. Resolutions that were made for the New Year are quickly forgotten or easily broken. But we would do well to remember that character is the ability to stay with a resolution long after the mood in which the resolution was made, has left. Consistency and faithfulness matter more than charisma and dazzle.
As we enter into the New Year, it’s important that our expectations be realistic. Angels don’t appear very often, and we should not expect them to. Every day cannot be expected to be super exciting, thrilling, and a spiritual high. We are expected to be faithful in the routines when life isn’t as exciting, for these are the times when God most often works. So, continue to be kind to others, attend church, serve the needy, discipline your desires, practice a daily quiet time, and give generously of your resources. Be tender, loving, and patient with your spouse. Show up for work on time even when it’s cold outside. Whatever you do, give it your best even though others around you are not.
For the shepherds the angels were there and then they were gone. Yet Luke 2:20 tells us, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen….” They were changed, yes, but they returned to the same ‘ole, same ‘ole, living lives of faithfulness.
Let’s do the same.