By the time you read this article your Christmas decorations will all be packed away and stored.  It’s usually December 26th when we ask the question, is it over?

Will you bear with me briefly to let a pastor bemoan how our society – including the church – has turned Advent and Christmas into a “get ‘er done” event that starts building well before Halloween and barely hangs on past noon of Christmas Day? We’ve dismissed Advent, the season to prepare, refocus, and anticipate, in unexpected places and through invigorating ways, the coming of the living Christ.

Perhaps the question we really need to be asking at the end of the twelve days of Christmas is, did it happen? Did Jesus come, is God with us (Emmanuel)? Do we still seek to follow the star? Have we turned around to live our future in a new way?

I know that all sounds a bit preachy (sorry occupational hazard) but, if Christmas came and went without something related to the birth of Jesus and how that impacts our lives, can we really call it Christmas?

It’s January now, a great time for a new start. We’ve had the opportunity to ponder with Mary about God contacting the world through Jesus who teaches peace, love of neighbor, praying for our enemies, and working for a just world for all. Now we have an opportunity to turn things around in our lives that head us down a negative road by taking the high road of patience, love, compassion, and inclusion.

No matter how you celebrated and packed up Christmas, I’d like to suggest starting the new calendar with a new way for every day – only looking back to learn from mistakes, learning to celebrate the joys of each day, and looking forward to encounter and engage this life with the peace of knowing that God is with you and we’re in this humanity together – not alone.

Yes, it did happen!

Happy New Year!