Today I happened to look at the collect for the First Sunday After Christmas--the only post-Christmas-Day collect we heard this year, what with Christmas Day on a Sunday. It reads:
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
It made me think of Christmas as a season of receiving. For all that we are told that Christmas is a season of giving and sharing, I was reminded that one of the best things I can do to celebrate Christmas is to remember and give thanks for what I have been given. But not just to remember: to accept the gift. To take some time to rejoice in the gift of the Word made flesh who entered this world as a gracious presence of light in the darkness. In all of my efforts to give and share and be generous, there's something wonderful about being reminded on this last day of Christmas that I needn't hustle. I don't need to do anything. Instead, I can simply settle in and allow myself to receive.
All of this has made me think of Christian formation as an opportunity to receive. It's not about learning stuff. It's not about having more faith. It's about receiving the light that pours out all around us. It's about allowing that light to reach others. I don't need to control it. I just need to be as clear as possible so that the light can reach me and reach others through me.
But first I need to remember to receive, to bask in the light. It is from this receiving that I can go forth and give--not things or money, but only myself shining forth. And I can shine because of what I have been given, what I have allowed myself to receive.
It's the last day of Christmas and with the consumer frenzy over and the parties done and the decorations down and the presents unwrapped and the resolutions already broken, I feel I am finally in a position to receive. The pressure of Christmas is off. Perhaps the presence of Christ may now enter. I hope and pray that I may receive it.
I hope you receive something too, some light in your life this day. May God's light be poured out upon you and may it shine forth from your life. And a very merry Christmas.