December’s Christmas music stopped on Boxing Day. Mini Easter eggs appeared in the shops. High street decorations began to look forlorn – as if they should no longer be there.
The church, thankfully, celebrates Christmas well into the new year. ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ and ‘Joy to the world’ were sung heartily at morning worship today.
The first Christmas didn’t end the minute Jesus was born. What happened afterwards to the shepherds, for example? Theirs had been an extraordinary experience: an angel appeared to them with good news, then a choir of angels sang praises to God. Such a glorious sight and sound! Rubbing bleary and startled eyes, they hurried to Bethlehem to see the promised Saviour. So far, so familiar. But after they’d met the baby? “The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they’d heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.”
Ordinary people, often looked down upon by others, sang their way through the streets in the middle of the night. Whatever did the neighbours think? Did they tut-tut at the commotion? Did they stagger out of bed to listen to the shepherds? Did they ask for directions to see the Saviour for themselves?
God’s invitation to ‘Come and see’ doesn’t go away at the turn of a new year, any more than Jesus disappears on Boxing Day. One of his names is Emmanuel: God with us. At Christmas and always.