Perhaps remnants of pieces of Christmas wrapping paper still lay on the carpet floor. The Christmas tree in all its glory continues to stand tall, but some of its needles lay brown on the floor. And a few wrapped gifts still remain under the tree awaiting their owners. The candle from the Christmas Eve candlelight service will no longer find fire. Instead it has made its way into the trash. Soon the display of Christmas cards from friends and family will get stored or put away. Some of the pictures will find their way onto the fridge or perhaps they will be put in a basket until December comes to a close. And just like flicking off a switch, preparations shift to the New Year ahead and the splendor of Christmas slowly fades away.
I have often thought about how Joseph and Mary handled the day after the birth of Jesus. In all of its wonder, they now had a baby — a real life, breathing, crying baby. Joseph perhaps woke up after the long night to go make further preparations for his family. After all he still had business to take care of in Bethlehem. His mind still reeling from the events from the past several months found its way into his mind. “How did I get here? All I did was see Mary, asked her father for marriage and we got betrothed. She leaves to visit her cousin and returns visibly pregnant. I’m not the father. And then I had a dream. What a dream! I took her as my wife despite the consequences and then we had to take this trip. We needed to get away from the gossip, but we argued along the way. After all, we still don’t know much about each other. And now the baby has arrived — Jesus. The labor and delivery was horrific. Did I do enough for her? What about the shepherds? How in the world did I get here?”
Luke writes that Mary “...pondered these things in her heart.” Does this mean she didn’t speak about the things that had occurred? Can you imagine Mary nursing her hungry baby, wondering if he was getting enough to eat? “I’m not sure what I’m doing! Where did Joseph go this morning? He shouldn’t leave me here. That angel said all those things to me, but I didn’t think it would be this hard! Look, I’m a mess! I delivered this baby on this dirty floor. It smells in here, but look at him. He’s beautiful.”
By the time Mary gave birth, the expectations of the people for their Messiah to deliver them had grown. They expected God to give them someone spectacular. Instead, Jesus came modestly wrapped, born to two people who had their own expectations but they continued to trust God.
Some folks have to wake up the day after Christmas and go back to their usual business. Others continue to entertain their visiting loved ones, but urgency grows within them to have everything go back to normal. Some of us experience letdown because of huge expectations so we shift our focus immediately to something else. Don’t let the wonder of Christmas dissipate from your life so quickly. Enjoy this moment. Celebrate with your family. Pull out the Christmas cards and read them one more time and pray for your loved ones. Focus on Him who humbled Himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). And like Mary, treasure up the words that our Savior was born, the same Savior that came to die for us.
The Day After Christmas