True Hope Beyond the Holidays: Departing in Peace from the Post-Christmas Blues 

Dec 31, 2023 – 1st Sunday after Christmas | Luke 2:25-35

Depart in Peace

Emotional Letdowns and Challenges of the Post-Christmas Season

It's official; the "post-Christmas" days have begun. Have you noticed the change in the atmosphere? 

Stores are crowded once again, but this time with people trying to exchange gifts that didn't quite hit the mark. Dumpsters are filled with discarded wrapping paper, and front yards are scattered with dried-up Christmas trees. The bright lights and decorations have lost their luster, and many are eager to take them down or have already done so.

The emotional "letdown" has set in for some. People express disappointment about not getting what they wanted for Christmas, the lack of snow, being sick during the holidays, or the absence of loved ones.

Financial constraints have also made it difficult to buy presents or do the things they want. On a larger scale, the country and the world face problems like the possibility of a world war. Some just didn't feel the warm, "Christmasy" feeling this year.

The Post-Christmas Blues

The Impact on Mental Health and Relationships

It seems like all the merriment and excitement that characterized our lives before Christmas have vanished like a vanishing vapor of smoke. Now, all that remains is the "post-Christmas blues." 

Historically, therapists' offices have filled up with clients suffering from various forms of depression. There has been a rise in family violence and spouse abuse. Hospital beds fill up with people suffering from psychosomatic ailments.

Hope and Renewal Beyond Holidays

Despite the letdown many experience, there is hope. New Year's Eve is here, and it's time to ring in a new year with new hope and a fresh start. This hope stems from the belief that things will get better.

For my family and me, New Year's Eve has held a different meaning for the past 10 years. It marks the birthday of our youngest son, Adam, who we can no longer celebrate with since his passing in July. This day reminds us of the impact of sin, which brings death and separation from loved ones and God.

But here's the truth: Christmas should never be a letdown. It's not about the presents, parties, decorations, or false hopes. Christmas is about worshiping Christ, the Son of Mary and the Son of God, who was born into our world to save us. 

It allows us to renew our focus on our Savior and find true peace and security in His gift. Christmas refuels and equips us for the "post-Christmas" days.

Lessons Learned from Simeon

The Power of God's Promises

We can learn how Christmas impacts our "post-Christmas" days from Simeon, an old man in Israel. He was righteous and devout, eagerly waiting for the consolation of Israel, which referred to the coming of God's Messiah to save and comfort His people. 

Simeon had received a special revelation from God, assuring him that he would see the Lord's Christ before he died. In other words, he was privileged to celebrate Christmas.

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon held the infant Jesus in his arms. This fulfilled God's promise to him. Simeon's post-Christmas days were forever changed. He left the temple with a song of praise, known as "The Nunc Dimittis."

True Meaning and Fulfillment

If the days after Christmas feel like a letdown, the problem may not be with Christmas itself. Did we truly see and experience Jesus, our Savior, and Lord, in His Word and Sacrament during Christmas worship? If we did, how could it ever be a letdown? If our focus was on worldly things, then we could understand why we feel disappointed.

To stay properly focused on Christmas, we need to rely on God's revelation about His Messiah. Secular platitudes and traditions can only give us false expectations. 

Only the message of Christ in God's Holy Word gives us true expectations and hope about Christmas. Jesus is the greatest gift to the world. He brings peace, eternal joy, and goodwill toward all.

Peace and Salvation in His Promises

Simeon's post-Christmas days were filled with peace and joy because he saw what God had promised him. In his arms was the consolation of Israel, the light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of God's people. Simeon could depart in peace because he held his salvation.

Babies have a way of changing everything. The same principle applies to the baby Jesus. 

In Jesus, God has come to save us, reconciling us to Himself. He brings salvation from sin, temptation, and trouble. He makes all things right between us and God, even if the world is not right. Through the sacraments of baptism, absolution, and the Lord's Supper, we hold the Savior in our lives and souls.

Be Forever Transformed

The Enduring Peace and Hope of Christ beyond Holidays

Beholding our salvation in Jesus changes everything. We are never truly "post-Christmas" because the comfort, hope, and peace of Christmas remain with us every day. We can depart in peace, knowing that Jesus has conquered every enemy.

The peace of Christ accompanies us in our daily lives through surgeries, grief, conflicts, and as we grow older. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the decorations are gone, carols are no longer sung, and the holiday is over. Yet, the Christ of Christmas touches our lives. We have seen and experienced God's salvation, assuring us that Christ has overcome every threat on our behalf. 

As you see, there is more than temporary worldly merriment. The hope of Christmas has been fulfilled on Good Friday and Easter. We, as post-Christmas people, can depart in peace. Amen!

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