The Fourth Candle…
Growing up the Advent Wreath in my home symbolized the “countdown to Christmas”, when the fourth candle was lit it meant we were almost there. My mother came from a very traditional family where Santa not only brought toys for the children but also brought the tree. I guess Ol’ St. Nick sent a note to my parents that he could not do that anymore and so Mom would relent and we would get a tree a few days before Christmas. However it stayed up the whole Twelve Days of Christmas.
My family has the tradition of setting up the tree on Thanksgiving weekend and I kid my wife because somewhere after the Christmas dinner on Christmas Day she would like to start taking the tree down. (It usually comes down before New Years Day)
Either tradition is fine. The “when” is not as important as the “what and why.” In all the social media, on the evening news I see the lament that Christmas decorations start going up in August. That does not bother me. I know the motivation is to sell more stuff and that is where it rubs me the wrong way because people are missing the What and Why of the moment. . For the believer, Everyday is a Christmas day, (and Good Friday and Easter Day and Pentecost) The joy of Christmas is found in our great salvation, summed up in this well known reference (this from the Amplified translation)… “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (John 3:16 AMP)
We cannot stop at Christmas it is a very significant moment in the story of salvation but it does not contain all that is needed. The noted English poet and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London John Donne in a Christmas sermon from 1626 puts is this way… The whole life of Christ was a continual Passion; others die Martyrs, but Christ was born a Martyr… His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas-day and his Good Friday, are but the evening and morning of one and the same day.
So ponder that thought these next few days. Linger in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Savor the coming of our King, Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Prince of Peace. Explore the what and the why of Christmas. Looking at the calendar it is not quite Christmas, looking at life everyday and every moment needs to contain a bit of Christmas.