Putting that Christmas Joy to Work

As this post is going out, the dawn of the morning after Christmas has arrived, and we’ve all been greeted by the aftermath of yesterday’s festivities. Regardless of what the day looks and feels like at this at this point, most of us approach it with a radically different attitude and set of expectations than those we experienced yesterday. The contrast between Christmas morning and the day after didn’t not go unnoticed around our house when I was growing up.  

For us kids, Christmas Day always began with unbridled excitement and anticipation. Everyone was smiling and happy even though the day invariably began in the predawn darkness. But the day after would find my mother declaring war on dust, dirt, clutter, and anything out of place. She would launch into a full-blown cleaning frenzy that left no nook or cranny untouched. For some reason, a mission like that was apparently very stimulating for Mom.

The “Day After” Difference ~                                                                                                                In addition to the benefits of physical exercise, cleaning chores seemed to trigger a great deal of curiosity and spurred her quest for knowledge. Amid the dusting and wiping and sweeping and separating trash from non-trash, she would randomly ask rhetorical questions. She was always trying to find out why she was evidently the only one in the family who had figured out how to put clothes on a hanger, or close a cabinet door, or pick things up off the floor, or put anything back where it belonged. Mom was fascinated, too, at how she happened to be the one person in the entire household who was gifted with the ability to discern without any external prompting when a trash can was full, and when toilet paper needed to be replaced. There were additional questions, too, like whether the rest of us had broken arms and were stricken with some kind of weird blindness that couldn’t recognize dirt or clutter. I figured questions like that sort of answered themselves, so I didn’t say anything. 

The point is that the music and pageantry that characterizes the lead-in to Christmas Day and the joy of the day itself are much more appealing and uplifting than the day after. Big days are like that. Often, there are harsh realities waiting to unfold, but the joy of the special day acts as a barrier and holds them at bay for a while. Maybe that was intentional. 

What If? ~                                                                                                                                                  When it comes to our feasts and festivals, what if self-indulgence and personal enjoyment was never supposed to be the primary objective? Could it be that the Original Architect of big days and major celebrations had something else in mind altogether? What if the Original Sanctifier of events and activities saw them as more than a break from the tedious routines of life? Could it be that we’re missing something? Celebrations can certainly be demanding and sometimes stressful, but they can also act as therapeutic interventions. They can provide a brief respite from other burdens. Celebrations can impart fresh physical and spiritual energy and help equip us to face the challenges waiting for us when the next day dawns. God’s concern goes beyond the big day itself. He’s as concerned, and maybe more so, with whether the impact of our celebrations disappears when the day is over. 

Defiant Blessings ~                                                                                                                                  We’ve been through a year filled with more unanticipated obstacles than we’ve seen in our lifetime. For many, if not most, of us, it was as though the COVID threat forced us to put a mask on Christmas itself and mute the intimate joy that celebrating the birth of our Savior normally affords. But in spite of the many restrictions, the day came equipped with defiant blessings that couldn’t be smothered. And it is that very characteristic that God would have us lay hold of as this challenging ‘day after’ leads us into an uncertain future. A special event that God ordained in Nehemiah illustrates our point:

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9–10 NKJV)

In Nehemiah’s day, God’s people were overjoyed to be able to hear the Word of God. They wept with a blend of rejoicing and regret. They grieved over their sins, but they also rejoiced to hear that God’s love and His covenant promise offered grace and redemption. The joy they experienced was a spiritual and emotional reaction to the faith that grew out of the truth that the Scriptures revealed. The deep, confident trust in the God that was the centerpiece of their celebration helped prepare them to deal with the challenges that would confront them when the festivities were over. Our current circumstances are different, of course, but we have a similar opportunity. 

New Challenges Await ~                                                                                                                        We’re leaving the chaos that characterized 2020, but we’re moving toward a new year that will unleash its own attacks. Fresh heartaches and losses will be inflicted and new demands will emerge. We will need all the strength we can possibly acquire, so let’s begin today by reaching back for the power in that Christmas joy we felt yesterday. Then let’s dig deeper. Let’s reach back for all those moments in all those Christmases and all those Easter mornings when the joy of what God has done was overwhelming. Then let’s store it up for that day when we may wonder whether God has forgotten us. 

We have just been blessed with a coordinated opportunity to rejoice together and celebrate a very special day. Now the day after has arrived, and we must decide what to do with it. We can pack our Christmas joy away with the other holiday trappings, and forget it until next year. Or . . . we can re-energize the faith that the Christmas story reinforces and apply its strength like God intended. We can remember that it’s the “joy of the Lord,” not the joy of our circumstances, that produces overcoming faith and allows us to be a living, transforming expression of what Jesus came to offer. 

If you want to do your “day after” rejoicing with a dust mop and broom, that would be okay, I guess — just smile more, and try not to ask all those rhetorical questions. 


“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below.  Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .

  • “God’s concern goes beyond Christmas Day itself. He’s as concerned, and maybe more so, with whether the impact of our celebrations disappears when the day is over.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
  • “In spite of the many restrictions, Christmas Day came equipped with defiant blessings that couldn’t be smothered. It is that very characteristic that God would have us lay hold of as this challenging ‘day after’ leads us into an uncertain future.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
  • “The deep, confident trust in the God that was the centerpiece of His people’s celebration helped prepare them to deal with the challenges that would confront them when the festivities were over. Our current circumstances are different, of course, but we have a similar opportunity.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
  • “Reach back for all those moments in all those Christmases and all those Easter mornings when the joy of what God has done was overwhelming. Then store it up for that day when we may wonder whether God has forgotten us.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)   

Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth” 

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© 2020 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S.  All rights reserved.

About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World" For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
This entry was posted in Christmas, Faith, Family, and Culture, Holidays, Humor Turned to Insight, In the News, Insights, Right Side Up, Wake Up Calls and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Putting that Christmas Joy to Work

  1. Holly Craw says:

    I agree that the Christmas celebration was greatly different this year. My family met in a park, sitting at properly -distanced spaces and eating out own food. However, we listened to each other more intently as different ones shared updates across the circle. I had prepared some questions that took us a little deeper, such as “What was an obstacle you overcame this year?” and “How have you changed during this season?”

    Each family member commented that they liked the venue and the chance to converse in some new and heart-felt directions, and some asked if we can do it again next. year.

    We know that the Lord is creative and is the master at redeeming difficult situations! Blessings to you!

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your uplifting and encouraging comment, Holly. The way you and your family handled Christmas was the kind of creative reaction that God can use to turn disappointment and frustration into something that gives family love new definitions and that strengthens rather than undermines relationships. I’m so glad you took the time to share that experience, and I plan to pass along to others what you and your family did. God bless you for making your faith so visible.

      Like

  2. I had to laugh as I’ve found myself asking all of those very same questions as I’ve grown older. OMGoodness, I’ve turned into Mr. Ron’s mother! 😀 As is almost always the case my friend; after a hearty laugh I settled in to find a wonderful lesson of faith. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and grace with us sir. God’s blessings; and “For goodness sakes, turn off the light when you leave the room, do I look like I own the electric company!?”

    Like

    • Talk about lough out loud funny, that last comment made my day :). The encouragement you carry around is more contagious than anything that ever crept out of China, and I’m hoping that God multiplies it everywhere you go in 2021. We’re hoping that Christmas at your house was a smack in the face (‘scuse me for promoting violence) of every emissary of hell that the devil sent to commit spiritual larceny and rob us of the joy that Jesus promised.

      Diane and I are hitching up our britches for a bumpy ride, because if things keep going the way they’ve have been going for the past couple of months it’s going to be a challenging year. Thanks for the bright spot you’ve been for us for so long. Diane and I think God should threaten to clone you just to give the devil heartburn.

      Like

  3. Although I paraphrase, I believe it was Scrooge who declared that he wished to carry Christmas joy in his heart every day of the year. What a great way to live our lives!
    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Ron, and that the joy will continue in all the days to come!

    Like

    • I think yours was the only Scrooge quote I’ve heard all season, Martha–and it was so appropriately applied. We hope the Christmas that you and your family enjoyed was a powerful contrast to all the whining and negativity flying around everywhere. Christmas may have looked and felt different this year, but the incredible truth about the gift God gave us was just as unshakeable as always. It’s encouraging to know that as we approach a new year full of uncertainty and potential disaster, we are not in the battle alone. May God make your ministry more fruitful that ever as 2021 unfolds, and may His love keep us unified and grant us the power to defy the fear-mongering and the cancel-culture trolls. Thanks for keeping me encouraged for so long, Martha, and for being a faithful long-distance friend.

      Like

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