Christmas is over, and Epiphany comes with the star and the wise men with their gifts. But the after-Christmas letdown threatens to undo the wonder and excitement of worshipping and rejoicing in Jesus’ birth. We heard the angels’ charge to the shepherds to go and tell the world of this wonderful birth. But suddenly the world is cold, and the lights that glistened in our churches and homes are taken down and stored away.
I have a favorite children’s choir Epiphany song. It is called “Set the Sun Dancing,” written by the remarkable Helen Kemp. There is a wonderful line where the children sing, “Star you must fade for your journey is done. New Year rides onward now. Christmas is gone. Carry the light with us as we move on.”
Keeping the wonder of Christmas and moving on through the cold of January is hard. I am lucky to be in ministry in the Philadelphia region. There is an incredible event in January where the whole city works together for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. There are so many activities and places for people of all ages to come together to help build community through service and mission with one another. Just when I think the light of Christmas has been extinguished, we launch into partnerships with other churches, food pantries, public schools, and community centers. The light moves into the world the way the angels said it should.
The families in our congregation have come to love this day and the preparation leading up to it. We work with other churches in our area to support events where everyone scatters to help with activities. We sort thousands of pounds of food and clothing items that are collected. Children make crafts for the elderly in local nursing homes and help lead worship for them in the afternoon to celebrate. The teens and adults head off to worksites where they paint, clean, and repair homes and buildings. It is a day that revives the flame and gives it new life through us.
Christmas is over, but our actions, every day, keep the light of Christ burning bright for all to see and know. “New Year rides onward now. Christmas is gone. Carry the light with us as we move on.”