The Twelve days of Christmas are here - in fact today is the 6th day, if you are keeping track - and my hopes for a full celebration are lying sick in bed coughing and sputtering like the rest of the family, yours truly included. Yeah, this year, it's not happening.
A couple of weeks before Christmas I heard an announcer on a local Christian radio station proclaim about Christmas, "Well, in two weeks it is all over." What?!?! The driver in the car behind me must have worried as my van made a sudden veer toward and correction away from the roadside ditch. Can you you hear me muttering, "It isn't all over - it has JUST BEGUN!"
What's the big deal you ask? Am I just being a liturgical snob? Well, maybe, but I sure hope not. I really do think it matters.
When we celebrate the church year, we learn through story, image, and repetition not only the stories of our heritage, but the truths of our faith. Take Advent, for example. We keep Advent and we are reminded of preparing our hearts for the arrival of the King, Jesus. Not only the remembrance of his first arrival, but the reminder of his future arrival - the Second Coming. We are reminded to prepare our hearts like the wise virgins prepared their lamps.
But when He comes that second time, is that it? Is it "all over" like the radio announcer thinks? Of course not...it has just begun! Keeping a full Christmas reminds us of this truth. It won't end with the return of Christ, it will BEGIN.
Perhaps you've heard of the Advent Conspiracy campaign? An even more important and counter-cultural campaign would be a Christmas Conspiracy. Instead of celebrating for one day, we'd blow the world away by celebrating a full 12-Day Christmas season! Can you imagine it: Keeping a real preparatory Advent and then letting Christmas burst forth on the 25th...and burn bright for 12 whole days of delight and merriment! Sharing our tables and homes with all those we can. Give gifts from the heart to those we love and those we don't even know. Serving our families and communities. A celebration conspiracy!
Oh, I could get really carried away in the romance of that idea.
But this year our little Christmas is limping along. The tree is still up. And we are burning the Christmas lights all over the house each night. It is still Christmas in our hearts at least.
And maybe that the most important thing of all.