Today all over the world people begin to celebrate the season of Christmas, which begins on December 25th and lasts to January 10th, the Sunday after Epiphany.

But what to do after we’ve gone to church in the morning, opened the presents, eaten the turkey? After the nap and the second piece of pie, immediately regretted? Of course I’m talking about an average American Christmas, which may not be like yours at all.

One idea is to follow the example of St. Augustine. Sitting in a garden one day, pondering his search for the meaning of life, he heard a child singing words that he had never heard before in relation to any children’s game: “Take up and read, take up and read.”

In obedience, he took up his copy of the Scriptures and began reading in the letter of Paul to the Romans, and that event changed not only his life but history.

The Bible is a mysterious book with power to touch hearts, if it is read with an open mind.  This is a good season to read the Bible with fresh eyes, perhaps beginning with the nativity story, or possibly David’s psalms.

It is a good book to read when the guests have gone home, and even more so if we are alone, perhaps with only bittersweet memories of other Christmases. It’s a story that begins in the shadow of fear, leads us through increasing hope to crushing despair, and out again to amazing joy.

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus . . .”