For many people once Boxing day is over the tree and crib are taken down and everyone goes back to work. But in the Church we have forty days of celebration ending next week on 2nd February.
In that time we think of a number of events connected with Jesus as a baby and a child. They all teach us something about his mission which is more fully revealed as a man.
Immediately after Christmas we celebrate Epiphany when the kings come and bring their gifts.
After this Joseph and Mary are warned to flee for their lives and they become refugees in Egypt for a time.
King Herod orders all children in Bethlehem under two years old to be killed, he is so threatened by Jesus’ birth. After Herod dies Jospeh and Mary and Jesus return to Nazareth where Jesus grew to maturity and ‘God’s favour was with him.’
Next week we celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem. Traditionally a Jewish family at the time would take their first-born son and make an offering for their life.
When Jesus was taken to the temple two holy people, Simeon and Anna, recognised Jesus as the Saviour of the world. Simeon had great faith in God; he saw his whole life had been spent in waiting for this moment.
He took Jesus in his arms and thanked God.
Now he says he can go in peace, he can die happy.
Anna was a widow of 84 years. She too had great insight into who Jesus was and what he would do for all.
With these two older people featuring in the Gospel perhaps the feast day is a good time to think of grandparents and all the older members of our community, especially those who spend time ‘child-minding’.
How our families can be enriched by their experience and wisdom. Like Simeon and Anna they can often see a broader picture when we are distracted by details.
They can see the guiding hand of God over the years and can pass on what they have learned in life.
Being a grandparent seems much busier now than in the past, parents often rely on them for support and help each week.
Let this feast day encourage us to appreciate them and to show our gratitude in simple practical ways so that they know how valued their contributions are.