December must be the shortest month of the year.
No, wait a minute, it has 31 days, the longest for any given month. The shortest month is February, with 28 or 29 days. So why does February always seem to crawl while December seems to whiz past?
A friend told me recently of a theory that time appears to go more quickly the less of it we have in life, i.e. as we get older the clock ticks faster, because we are losing time in our lives. An interesting thought to ponder perhaps, but it doesn’t seem to hold true for December. It has always whooshed past as quickly regardless of whether I was at school, working in an office job, or now as a homemaker.
It’s the month of joy and fun. Empty offices and festive moods. Celebrations and gifts. School holidays and no exams. Vacations and trips abroad. Balmy summer breaks in the Southern Hemisphere. Snowy winter wonderland in the Northern Hemisphere.
Even before I became a believer in Christ, December was always my favourite month, as opposed to the dreaded months of January and February, and I’m sure you can identify.
But December can also turn into a time of stress, of last minute Christmas shopping, remembering forgotten family or friends just before gift exchange at a party, and awkward family gatherings with embarrassing family members that you don’t really want to meet. Or it could be a time of wistfulness, regretting unaccomplished projects and dreams for the year, or struggling to share in the joy of others for those who are suffering loss or battling illness.
And I wonder, why is Christmas celebrated in December?
While Christmas is celebrated traditionally in December as the birth of Jesus, many scholars are agreed that Jesus most likely wasn’t actually born in December (when it’d have been too cold for the flocks to be out), but sometime in September-October.
In any case, December would then likely be the time when the Angel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary that she was to give birth to Jesus, and the Baby Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb – a pronouncement and coming of the Lord Jesus nonetheless.
And with His coming, comes the promise of hope, joy and salvation for all.
I like to think that God preserved Christmas to be in December so that those who are rejoicing in the season will be reminded of the true reason for the holiday cheer, and those who are mourning will be reminded that amidst the pain and struggles there is a reason to hope.
As Sunday is for the week, so is December for the year. Most of us work through Monday to Friday (and sometimes Saturday) looking forward to the weekend and Sunday, but God’s intended principle is rest before work. For the believer, going to church on Sunday is to lead us back into resting in God’s grace, hope and love for us so that we can work restfully carrying His promises through the week.
Perhaps, then, December could be seen as the month where we rest in His grace, hope and love, being reminded once again that we are the reason that He came, so that we can walk through the coming year carrying His promises, grace and love.
Whether you are in revelry or regret this Christmas season, we pray that you have a real encounter with Jesus.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.