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Think Christmas is over?

Light for the Way seriesWe invite you to take a peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.

By Pastor Chris Wheatley, Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services

God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given to us in his Beloved.” Ephesians 1:5-6

When I was a child, I thought that Christmas lasted a single day. We looked forward to it for a month, opening Advent calendars and lighting wreaths, reading scriptures that promised the coming of the Christ, and then, after impossible amounts of waiting, it was upon us. One magical day of songs of choirs, torn wrapping paper, delicious foods, and far-flung family regathered. Wonderful, but over almost immediately.

In confirmation, I learned that Christmas lasts a whole season—two seasons, in fact. That the Advent preparation was more than a countdown, but a time of preparing one’s life for the arrival of the Savior, both two thousand years ago in a manger and at the end of earthly time in the clouds. That the twelve days of Christmas popularized by a song are an important extension of one great day and allow us to expand our celebration from immediate family to all of those in our lives, from co-workers and friends to complete strangers on the street.
In seminary, my professors urged us to think about Christmas as a year-round reality. How the entire church calendar begins with Advent, and how the Christmas event starts off and affects every other day of the year. That the coming of Christ is not limited to twelve days but transforms every moment. That the goals of kindness and community that seem universal in December should be just as inspirational in late July.
Now none of these understandings are wrong. Christmas is, indeed, a single day representing a single, world-changing event and a season of preparation and fulfillment, and a world-spanning reality. But the longer I work in eldercare, the more I come to question whether Christmas can be represented by a calendar at all. Because the meaning of Christmas in the lives of our residents isn’t when or how they celebrate it, but whether it has actually changed their lives.  
Or in the words of today’s Scripture from Ephesians 1:5-6:God destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given to us in his Beloved.”

Or to put it another way, Christmas was always about God the Father adding another member to his family. It just wasn’t Jesus, who has always been with him. It was a child who would be adopted into his family by Christ’s invitation and sacrifice. It was you. As Ephesians says, you are the one who was chosen for adoption into God’s family, a gift given by the coming of the Beloved Son.  

Christmas isn’t an event that occurs once in time and is remembered by generations from then on. It is an event that happened for you and isn’t done until you become part of it.  
Pastor Chris WheatleyRev. Chris Wheatley serves PHS as Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services. He is an ordained Lutheran pastor and has served in hospice, eldercare, hospital, HIV/AIDS and congregational settings. He and his wife Nicole are perpetually outnumbered by cats and Dobermans.

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

Find more in the Light for the Way series:

Adopting Mary’s attitude
Bursting with praise
Get to know us: a Christian ministry
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series

In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care resources website

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