Saturday, we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ.

Many of us gathered together for a meal, to open gifts, to spend time together, to play games. Some of us traveled and some welcomed others into our homes. Some of us were alone, while others of us were surrounded by chaos that comes from large families.

Some of us welcomed the day in quietly. Others were jarred from sleep by the eager chattering and hands from little ones. Some of us experienced more joy than we could contain. Others of us felt the emptiness left by those who went to be with the Lord this year, or those who have been gone many years, but their loss is especially felt this time of year.

Now, Christmas has come and gone for another year.

The day after Christmas can be like riding a roller coaster. You wait in anticipation in line for the moment when you can get on the ride, and then the twists and turns and climbs and drops, and your heart is in your throat, you scream and laugh in delight. Then the ride stops and you’re back at the beginning, climbing out of the ride, standing on the platform, feeling the after effects of exhilaration from the ride, but then, slowly, you begin to realize the ride is over, and a tiny sadness takes hold.

What now?

Christmas is over. The build-up has come to climax. We stand on the platform having gotten off the ride called Christmas.

I imagine that may have been a little bit of what Joseph and Mary felt. In the months leading up to the birth of the child Jesus, a great build-up was taking place, a time of anticipation. And then the baby finally arrived, and he was glorious. Then you have the visitors and the gifts. But then Joseph had a dream to return home, and he was obedient to God’s direction and set out to protect the child.

That’s what God calls us to do. He may not tell us in a dream or with a flashing neon sign, but God wants us to protect his child in our lives. He wants us to continue our relationship with Jesus Christ and not let anything come between us and our savior. He wants us to continue to be obedient. He wants us to let those feelings of hope and joy and peace and love that were planted in the Advent season to take root and grow into fruit. He wants our personal lives to be full and ripe and bountiful.

Not only does God want us to remember him and his son as we approach the new year and bid adieu to the festiveness of the Christmas season, but he also wants us to remember our neighbors, because doing so meets the needs of others and enriches our own lives.

Giving and servitude is especially evident during the holiday season, but we shouldn’t forget those in need. Even when the party is over, God calls us to watch out for our fellow man. He tells us to love one another, not just in preparation for Christmas, but throughout the year as well. When we serve others, when we give to others, we’re feeding blessings into our own lives.

When we protect the spirit of Christmas, that baby, Jesus Christ, in our lives,  and do all the good we can, all the time we can, for all the people we can, we don’t find ourselves on the platform of this ride called life, dejected because the thrill has come to an end, we are elated and excited and eager for the next adventure.

In this, we have peace knowing we are being good and faithful servants. In this, we are fertilizing our own growth and fruitfulness. In this, we have hope and joy for the years to come.