All I Want for Christmas ...
The pastors from Washington were together for their Christmas party the other night. 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 is it, that if asked, “What would be the best thing you want for Christmas?” you would say, “All I want for Christmas 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 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, the thing that always jumps out at me is that everyone mentioned who was invited to find the newborn baby, 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 intended to be. God sent Jesus to be with those he loves and cares about, so they could 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, that we all need, that is available to anyone and is there for us when we simply receive it. Then God’s passion to always have us in heaven with him will be accomplished and the incredible joy of Christmas that starts here will be ours forever. The gift is given by God, we never thought we would 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.