Eve, my oldest daughter, is firmly entrenched in the “why stage”. Which, should you be unfamiliar with this season, is a time where a kid starts asking why - three to four thousand times a day. Literally, every statement is in the form of a Jeopardy-like question, and every reply you give is met with a follow-up inquiry. Moreover, because Eve is quite smart, I usually only get one or two questions deep before I’m stumped. Example:
“Dad, why does the dog have a black nose?”
(I already don’t know this answer, but I shuck and jive with the best of ‘em.) “Well Eve, because God created some animals to have black noses. Just like some people have blue eyes and others have brown, God just makes everyone special.”
“Why does God make everyone special?”
“Huh. Why does God make everyone special? I have no earthly idea why, good question buddy.”
Now in this phase of constant inquiry, I must admit that I've been less-than-graceful in a few less-than-proud moments. And yes, I've had to apologize. But usually, answering her questions gives a fascinating window into the unfettered curiosity of a child.
To that end, as all of us adults are taking down the decorations and getting back to normal after the Christmas rush, Eve posed a question:
“Dad, can we walk around and see Christmas lights tonight?”
“No sweetheart, we can’t. The lights are down until next year.”
“Well, because the birthday party for Jesus is over.”
“Eve, I really don’t know.”
I think I need a better answer.
I mean I have a practical adult reply which is: “Well sweetie...we take the lights and decorations down because Christmas is actually pretty exhausting for adults and most of us just want to get back to some measure of normalcy until we’re thrust into this glorious season again in ten months.” But that’s a terrible answer. And it comes from heart that is, if I’m being totally honest, relieved that the never ending rager for Jesus is over.
Here’s another observation, and this one has a picture!
This morning I sat down in church and noticed something on the altar - wax. Blue and pink wax that had spilled from advent candles being lit and burned for multiple weeks over multiple services. My first thought was that it should be cleaned up, bah humbug! But then I remembered that I go to an intentional (not to mention clean) church that didn't miss the gobs of mess in a prominent location.
So why was there wax on the altar?
To force me to remember. To remember that what was accomplished through Jesus wasn't a thing that happened in December, thousands of years ago (though it probably didn't even happen in December, but who really cares about that?). Jesus’s Birthday is happening now. And moving in obedience towards a deeper understanding of Christ isn't something that’s over - it’s a lifelong commitment and opportunity. The advent season may have passed, but the celebration echos in all eternity, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
So Eve, why do we take the lights down? Well honey, because it kills our power bill and makes our home look like a tacky Vegas hotel. But why do we stop celebrating the birthday of Jesus? You know what, let’s not! Let’s keep the wax on the altar, let’s talk about how important Jesus is, and let’s not stop following the star that led the Magi and orients our hearts towards home.