This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
—1 John 5:2
The rustic town of Frankenmuth, Michigan, is known for savory German cooking and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. Bronner’s is always decorated for Christmas and sells ornaments, bows, and trees year-round. Since Michigan usually has snow at Christmastime, it is jarring to see the store on a hot July afternoon, but it fits the alpine look of the town.
In a way like Bronner’s, we do not need seasonal snow and icicles to celebrate Christmas. The birth of Jesus is a life- and world-changing event, so it should be possible to celebrate it anytime and anyplace. It should be possible to stretch the generosity and goodwill of the season into spring, summer, and fall.
John’s letter gives us clues on how to stretch the season. We celebrate Christmas all year when we stick to the basics of “loving God and carrying out his commands.”
And these “commands” are not complicated. The central command is to love God and neighbor. For example, says John, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.”
So, as we take down the Christmas tree and store the lights and decorations, we should keep celebrating the birth of Jesus by loving others as he loves us. “Peace and goodwill to all” must be a year-round labor of love.
Spirit of God, help me to carry the warmth of Christmas into the next weeks and months. Thank you for the love I receive in Jesus’ birth; help me to pass it on. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!