All I want for Christmas
The pastors from Washington got together for their Christmas party the other night. At one of those gatherings, we were asked to share memories of past Christmas experiences. One of the pastors told us about his son. Every year he would shake his presents under the tree and then guess exactly what was in them. The parents were so astounded that he was such an intelligent psychic. Years later as the family was together reminiscing about their Christmas times the son admitted that when the parents were gone he would open the end of each present, see what was wrapped and then know what to “guess.”
In response to that humorous tale, one of the pastors shared that if he knew what his presents were, it was not nearly as much fun getting them. There was no surprise and it was just, “OK, I knew I was getting that.”
All that made me think of a story of a young girl, who from an aunt received a pincushion for Christmas. When her mother encouraged her to write a thank-you note to the aunt, she wrote, “Thank-you so much for the pincushion. I always wanted one ... but not very much.”
The most exciting celebratory or enjoyable gift that I ever got for Christmas was one that I really, really wanted, but never thought I would get. It was too expensive — nothing that my parents indicated they would consider getting or even mentioned as a possibility for a Christmas gift.
What would be the one gift you would really, really want for Christmas? What would be the best thing you want for Christmas? You would say, “All I want for Christ-mas is ... !”
In thinking about my Christmas experiences, I can only remember a few of the gifts I have received over the decades. I certainly remember the settings, the friends, the family and the enjoyable time of being with others. I talk to people and hear about their negative memories. “All I remember about Christmas is the drunk family carrying on.” “My parents could care less about spending time with presents; they piled the things unwrapped in the middle of the floor. When we got up, we would help ourselves, while they got drunk.” “We never got presents or stockings, just something we needed and that was it.”
So, what is the point of all of that? I have asked the question at our ministerial gathering that I have asked here, “What is all you want for Christmas?” The first thing that came up, was, “peace on earth.” Would that not be great, to have those overseas home with their families? Families would be able to be together.
As I think about the first Christmas, there is one thing that always jumps out at me. It is the fact that everyone mentioned was invited to find the newborn baby. When they found him, they came away with incredible, overwhelming joy! That is the point of Christmas. Being together with those we love and care about is what Christmas is 'in-tended' to be. God sent Jesus to be with those he loves and cares about. He wants us to have what makes Christmas the most joyful experience — being with those we love.
If you went to the live animal Christmas play at Marion Avenue Baptist this year, the presentation closed with Jesus going to the cross. In some ways it is the real Christmas tree. God gave us the greatest gift, that we can never afford. It is the gift we all need. It is available to anyone and the only thing we need to do is simply receive it. Then God’s passion to always have us in heaven with him will be accomplished. The incredible joy of Christmas that starts here will be ours forever. The gift is given by God. We never thought we could get it. It is too expensive. But God had talked about it for years and then gave us the only thing we need for Christmas.