“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” Luke 2.40
The Christmas story really ends with this passage — that Jesus grew, became strong, filled with wisdom and God’s grace was upon him. The end.
But as we know, it’s not the end. In Luke 2.41, Jesus is immediately twelve years older and is found in the Temple awing the religious leaders with his understanding and knowledge. The rest of the story has his parents returning to Jerusalem, because they thought he was with the large caravan returning home, and scold him for it. Jesus says, “Didn’t you know that I would be in my Fathers house?” Not something a typical 12-year-old would say!
This is the only account we have of the pubescent Jesus. The next movement takes him into adulthood as he begins his public ministry at the age of thirty. Three glimpses into Jesus’ life — an infant, a twelve year old boy, and then as a thirty-year-old man.
My point is this — Jesus’ life didn’t end with Christmas. His ministry didn’t stop there. He obviously grew in wisdom and God’s grace was on him. Even in the years from one to twelve, Jesus was growing, discovering God, remembering who his Father was. And then from twelve to thirty he was becoming the man who would become the Messiah. For it was not surprising that at his first miracle of turning water into wine his mother Mary appeared to know his powers. She told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” She knew he was special and he was only getting started.
Just as the Christmas story doesn’t end with the birth of Jesus, neither should we be so quick to stop saying “Merry Christmas,” caring for the needy or encouraging those around us with gifts and warm wishes. If we truly are the hands and feet of Jesus then why not ramp this up all year and not just during Christmas.
But the impetus for our actions begins with the manger. With a God who came near on that starry night in Bethlehem so many years ago. So why not continue celebrating the birth of the Messiah and our mission to share God’s love with others? Let’s do that even as the lights are being packed up, Christmas trees discarded and stocking’s taken down.
For as the Prophet Isaiah reminds us, “For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9.6-7).
“O Lord God, I thank you for the celebration of Christmas. For the lights, the sounds, the laughter with family, the snow on the ground! But mostly Lord, I thank you for your love, for coming down to save us and living a life without sin or stain. I praise you Lord for your goodness, for this Christmastide and for the grace to stand before you. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power this day that I might be your hands and feet to a world still in need to a Savior. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen