A couple of years ago, at the start of the long summer holidays my eldest daughter asked me if I’d help her dye her hair purple. I agreed on two conditions – one, that she bought gloves so that I didn’t get purple hands and two, that (because her school requires that hair look ‘natural’) the box had the words ‘temporary colour’ on it somewhere.
Hair colour boxes lie.
The purple, while beautiful, was much more permanent than expected. Term started and in spite of numerous washes, her hair was still a defiant, glorious, royal purple.
Some things are just much more permanent than expected, and at this time of year I’m reminding myself that Emmanuel – God with us – is one of them.
You see, in Wilko’s (our local everything store), Christmas tinsel has already given way to cleaning and storage products and any day now there’ll be eggs where the chocolate Santas have been and little net bags of bunnies instead of chocolate coins. In the city centre shops twinkly lights are replaced with cheery red sale stickers and although technically we still have at least two of the twelve days of Christmas left to sing about, Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey have already retreated to wherever they hide until after Bonfire Night.
The guests are gone, the puzzle is done, there are only caramel bites (shudder) left in the family tub of Roses. It was great, but it’s over for another year.
Christmas is temporary.
But Emmanuel isn’t.
He came… and he stayed.
At first in a body, and then by his spirit, Jesus stayed.
It’s good to remind ourselves as we face the anticlimax of January, that although the season of celebration is over, the person we were celebrating is still with us. We can pack away the nativity scene, but Emmanuel stays. He is with us for good.
So while the world is telling me it’s time to move on, to stop the party and get back to work. I’m remembering that this glorious invasion of royalty and colour and light into a dull dark world is real, and permanent. God with us, not just in December, but in January and February and in every minute of every hour of every day for the whole of the year and the next.
May this year be one of God breaking through in unexpected places and unexpected times. May it be a year where each of us experiences the truth of God-walking-with-us