Oh I wish it could be Christmas all year long…
So the song goes. But The Bible doesn’t. The Christmas recount in Luke has a frenetic amount of activity in which God appears active and present.
However, as we read through the opening chapters on Luke, we notice that there are times of pause and extension, when it is not Christmas; and God is not so obviously active and present.
Take the final comment on John the Baptist in Chapter 1:
And the child grew and became strong in spirit and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
John nicked off.
The prophesied forerunner goes MIA, to the desert.
However, it’s not just John. Consider Jesus, himself:
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them…And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.
Jesus nicked off too; to Nazareth, the back blocks of nowhere. It’s effectively the same as going MIA in the desert.
So, what happened? These two amazing babies, about whom much fanfare was made in the opening chapter, just disappear, and not just for a little bit. In the following verses, John the Baptist is all grown up and about to start baptising. We are told:
The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.
All that time, just passed over like that. And then the ministry begins.
It’s like Shakespeare’s lost years: the seven years or so when not much is known about him. His twins’ baptism is on record in 1585 and then there’s nothing much – or nothing much that’s clear – until he appears on the London Stage in 1592.
So with John the Baptist and Jesus. They disappear for a bit. The frenetic activity of Christmas is over, but it wasn’t for nothing. There was more to come, but there was a season of waiting and preparation. Advent isn’t the only time of waiting and preparation.
In Luke 2 it reads: When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
There was a purpose to it.
So when we pack away the Christmas tree, the lights, the decorations and start looking towards the new year, it can be easy to look back at Christmas and wonder ‘what was all that for?’ and ‘is God still with us?’
Yes, he is. It’s just not Christmas all year long. And sometimes in life, there are seasons of waiting and preparation.
Even for the Saviour born at Christmas there was a season of waiting and preparation. We would do well to remember that this is the model that we follow.
And that there’s a reason for it.
Yours in navigating lost years,