I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, because of all that the LORD has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 8For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely”; and he became their savior 9in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
What now? The Sunday after Christmas is always a low Sunday. Families are visiting or families are traveling. People are taking advantage of the opportunity to be off and sleep in. That’s why this Sunday is typically called “Associate Pastor, or Guest Preacher” Sunday. Two Senior Ministers were in worship at Wesley this Sunday while their Associates were holding down the fort back home!
The Sunday after Christmas represents what we think about Christmas. It’s over and many of us are glad. My wife and I usually ask each other on Christmas day about 2 pm, “So, when do you want to take down the tree?” Someone told me this week that they believe we feel this way because our culture starts Christmas in September. We are just done with it. It’s time to get back to “normalcy”. It’s time to move on. It’s over.
But in that time between Christmas and New Year’s, I want to very briefly remind you that Christmas is not over at all. For Christians, it has all just begun! The birth of Jesus does not represent for us an ending, but rather a beginning. This is why the church calendar year begins with Advent. For us, the message of Christmas should propel us through the year! And just what is that message?
Isaiah tells us…
“he became their savior in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them” My hope an prayer is that you will take this passage of scripture and make it your home screen, put it on an index card on your bathroom mirror, or mark it in your Bible. The beauty of Christmas is that God did not reach out to us in some abstract, untouchable way. Christmas is the story of God with us in everything at all times! It is God’s own “presence” that saves us. God didn’t send a messenger or an angel…God came Himself! His presence saves us.
How can we carry that forward? I have a suggestion. As you clean up your Christmas decorations this year, pick something to leave out. It could be a shepherd from your nativity or the nativity itself. It could be an ornament or a Christmas candle. It doesn’t really matter what it is except that it is something you use during Christmas. Keep it in a place you will see all year and as you walk by it remember the message of today. “his presence saves us”…
Jesus continues. He will continue the actions of God our Heavenly Father who sent him to be with his people. He is Immanuel, God with us, and we are His chosen ones. He will care for us and love us in our deepest distress, will redeem us, lift and carry us as his God has done from the beginning.