Torn scraps of colored paper litter the floor. Boxes, bows and ribbons are strewn throughout the room. Debris from ripping through packaging material are all that remains. Toys are in the rooms. Electronics are being played with and gadgets are being tested. There is relative peace, because Christmas is over.
I remember as a child it seemed Christmas was over all too quick. All the anticipation and build up was over after just 30 minutes of unwrapping presents. The mysteries of what was in each box were revealed and the puzzle of figuring out what was in that odd-shaped package was solved. Now all that was left was the clean-up (and the playing with the gifts of course). I can remember some years feeling a let-down, as if the end was anti-climactic compared to the waiting.
Now this doesn't mean I didn't have good Christmases growing up. Just the opposite. I had parents who gave us not only what we wanted, but what we needed, as well as unexpected gifts to help us pursue our passions or hone our hidden talents. It's just there were times, especially when I got older, that it seemed the excitement far outlasted the temporary happiness that each gift brought. And now, as an adult, the aftermath of Christmas means bills to pay (though we are fairly good at not going into debt for Christmas) and paring down of older things to make room for new things. It means the taking down of decorations and the constant reminding of children to put their new toys away. It means getting back to work and back to routine. Usually by mid-January Christmas is a distant memory and life plows on, ever-faster; ever-relentless. Surely this isn't what Christmas is all about?
As I think about this, I think about the disciples and what they must have felt after Jesus ascended into heaven. The long-awaited Messiah had come, and for three years ministered to the Jewish people. Now he was ascending into heaven. No political kingdom had been founded. No government coup had taken place. Caesar still ruled, taxes still had to be paid and the Sanhedrin still ruled the Temple with a legalistic tyranny. I wonder, as they waited in Jerusalem for what Jesus had promised (see Acts 1) what their conversations must have been. They had been on an adventure for three years, now what? Was it over? What was next? Surely this was not what they had anticipated.
Oh to be there on that day of Pentecost! When the senses were brought to life with the sound of a violent rushing wind and the sight of a flame coming to rest upon each one in that upper room. Oh to be there when the Apostles began to preach in a myriad of languages and to see 3,000 souls immersed into Christ! What a fulfillment that must have been! The Kingdom had come, and it came with power.
You know, that same Holy Spirit works within the Church today. He still moves and compels the people of God into a life of adventure and fulfillment. That doesn't mean it will be easy, but it will be an adventure. So as you put away the tree and wrap up the lights, remember, Christmas has always been, and will always be a beginning of an adventure, not merely a fulfillment of ancient promises. God has more in store for you and I!