Putting Away Christmas

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I imagine most of us have “put away Christmas” by now. We’ve dismantled the tree and removed the fragile ornaments, tucking them away in their boxes. But once the Christmas season is over, do we put our faith away with the rest of the “Christmas decorations?” Outside the Christmas season, many believe it is not polite, not politically correct, to let others see the outward signs of our faith unless we are at church. Public prayer, making the sign of the cross, or too many “Praise bes” or “Amens”  are considered to be actions that impose our beliefs on others. When faith is only a personal issue, such display of Christian symbols and public demonstrations of faith are not acceptable. It becomes little more than a publican’s pretenses, a tawdry display of Christmas decorations left out all year by someone only nominally a Christian.

During the Christmas season, we were asked to welcome the infant Jesus into our lives. But what then; do we put the Christ Child away after Christmas, like one of the ornaments? Does the busyness of the everyday living cause us to set Him aside like a winter coat hung in the closet until it gets cold again? Do we put our faith away until we have more time, or until we need Him again? What if we were to take that newborn infant and nurture Him, allowing Him – and ourselves –  to grow to fullness?

John was the “voice in the wilderness, preparing the way.” With the baptism of Jesus followed by John’s arrest, we conclude that the way was prepared. It was time for action. In today’s reading we see Christ moving into public ministry, calling forth His apostles. Perhaps they too had been waiting and preparing for this time. They had not relegated Christ to be just another outward decoration, but made Him the center of their lives. Christ was more important than their jobs, even more important than their families.

We also have been preparing ourselves. We have been baptized and catechized, and confirmed. It makes sense that now it is our time to follow Christ. Christ is calling us. We want to look back over our shoulders to see whom God is talking to (surely not me!). But what if we were to drop all and do just that – follow Him? What if, instead of packing away the guiding light of Christ along with the Christmas decorations, we take the opportunity to follow Him through the winter darkness, through the unknown future, to Spring and a new life? Christ has called us all. Will you choose to follow?

Linda Crowley