After Christmas – What Next? – Embracing a Deeper Meaning in the Season

After Christmas – What Next? –  Embracing a Deeper Meaning in the Season

Have you ever stopped to wonder what lies beyond the twinkling lights and joyous carols of Christmas? As the holiday season unfolds, with its enchanting lights and cheerful carols, it invites us to look beyond the surface of festive celebrations.

The First Advent – Christmas: A Time of Reflection for All

While Christmas has its roots in the Christian tradition, marking the coming of Christ as a baby into this world – a concept called the “First Advent” in Christian theology, its essence has grown to encompass much more, transcending religious boundaries. This time of year has become synonymous with widespread economic activity, with billions spent on gifts and festivities. For instance, in the UK, the seasonal expenditure is astounding, with an average adult spending around £300 on Christmas presents and the nation as a whole using 227,000 miles of wrapping paper annually. However, these statistics also bring to light a stark contrast — the immense waste generated during this period, including 1.6 billion tons of food globally and two million turkeys in the UK alone, which starkly contrasts with the needs of those who are less fortunate.

This dichotomy prompts a reflection on the true spirit of Christmas. Historically a time for humility and compassion, one must ponder whether these values are being overshadowed by material indulgence. The season, however, is more than a commercial affair; it’s a period that unites people across various backgrounds in the spirit of community, generosity, and introspection. Christmas encourages us to pause and reflect not just on the immediate joys but also on our broader aspirations and hopes for the future.

Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the season can serve as a poignant reminder of the universal human values of hope, the desire for a better world, and the importance of caring for others. It invites us to remember the words often attributed to the origins of this holiday, “I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me” (Matthew 25:40), and to extend this spirit of giving and compassion beyond the festive season. In essence, Christmas is a time when we can all reflect on our collective humanity and the ways we can contribute to making the world a more inclusive, caring, and hopeful place.

The Second Advent: A Universal Message of Anticipation and Hope

In the heart of Christian theology also lies the concept of the “Second Advent,” a time when, as the Bible describes, Christ will return, fulfilling a promise of renewal and hope. This pivotal belief, rooted in scriptures such as “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9), extends beyond its religious origins to offer a universal message of anticipation and transformative change.

Imagine if the fervour and dedication we invest in Christmas, a celebration of the first Advent, were channeled towards preparing for this Second Advent. Such a shift in focus could usher in significant transformations in our personal and communal lives, echoing the profound impact of events like Pentecost. Envision a world where our daily trivialities are replaced by deeper, more meaningful engagements with our faith and a collective anticipation of a greater event.

The celebration of Christmas, when viewed solely as a commemoration of Christ’s birth, risks losing its deeper meaning. However, when connected with the anticipation of the Second Coming, it gains a new dimension. This event symbolises not just a religious festival, but a moment of universal reckoning and fulfilment. In contrast to the commercialised nature of modern Christmas, this anticipation calls us to confront the profound reality of our existence and our faith.

While deeply rooted in Christian theology, the concept of the Second Advent transcends religious boundaries, symbolising a broader sense of hope for a future marked by peace, justice, and joy. This perspective invites us to use our time, energy, and resources not for self-gratification but in anticipation of a transformative future. In the spirit of the biblical angels who proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men,” we too can look forward to a future where these values prevail. As Revelation 19:6 anticipates, “Hallelujah! Because the Lord our God, the Ruler (Jesus) of all, has become King,” we are reminded that the essence of this season is a prelude to a more glorious event, inspiring hope and unity among all people.

Embracing Service and Kindness: The True Spirit of the Season

The holiday season, Although often associated with the Christian tradition of Christmas has its deeper theological meanings. In Luke 19:13, Christ says us to “Occupy till I come.” One crucial way we can occupy ourselves is through embracing a life of service, kindness, and anticipation for a better world, not just during the holidays but throughout the year. Whether it’s through volunteering, helping a neighbour, or simply showing more patience and understanding in our daily interactions, there are countless ways to embody the spirit of the holiday season.  This spirit of giving and compassion, epitomised by figures like Mother Teresa, transcends religious boundaries and invites us all to make a positive impact in the lives of those around us. Her journey from Albania to the streets of Calcutta, where she dedicated her life to helping the destitute and the dying, serves as a powerful example of selflessness and service.

Mother Teresa’s story illustrates the broader message of the holiday season – a call to action for each of us to contribute to our communities in meaningful ways. Whether through volunteering, lending a hand to a neighbour, or practicing patience and understanding in our everyday interactions, we all have the opportunity to embody the true spirit of this time of year. 

Conclusion: Beyond the Festivities

As we immerse ourselves in the holiday festivities, let’s embrace a broader perspective. This season calls for more than just celebration; it’s an invitation to engage in acts of kindness and compassion, recognising the shared humanity in all of us. It’s a time to reflect on themes of hope, renewal, and positive transformation. These values, central to the concept of the Second Advent in Christian theology, also resonate universally. They encourage us to look beyond our differences, fostering unity, compassion, and inclusivity. As we enjoy this time with loved ones, let us also think about ways to contribute to a better future, inspired by the season’s deeper messages. Let’s live and share the Bethlehem story in a way that inspires others to also look forward to the Second Advent. As Revelation 22:20 says, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

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