The presents are all unwrapped. The mystery of what lies beneath the paper is gone. In a little while, the joy of receiving exactly what you wanted will have waned. As a child, I LOVED Christmas! I would wake up at three or four in the morning and tip toe out to the Christmas tree. I would lay face down on the couch and just stare at the lights on the tree. To be honest, there were many occasions that I may have carefully removed the tape on a package or two to get a peek at what could be in the box. While I loved getting gifts, I was much more excited to give gifts! But through the years, I’ve grown cynical; I had come to extremely dislike Christmas.
I had breakfast with a friend a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing our Christmas plans, and I heard myself bluntly say, “I hate Christmas.” Surprised by my statement, my perceptive friend gently prodded attempting to persuade me otherwise. Nevertheless, this Scrooge’s heart remained in a “Bah-Humbug” state. Don’t get me wrong. I sang Christmas songs in the car. I went Christmas shopping (online). I even hung up a few Christmas lights. My actions contradicted what my heart was feeling.
That is until I felt a tiny tug on my heart. If my imagination had been greater, I would have seen Tiny Tim tugging on my sleeve as he declared, “God bless us, everyone.” But it wasn’t Tiny Tim hoping to grab my attention. “You don’t really hate Christmas, Kristin.” Ahhhh, the familiar voice of Love was whispering to my heart. I’m confident that I let out the longest possible sigh. Holy Spirit was right. I didn’t hate Christmas. I hated what Christmas had become. I hated the commercialism. I hated the obligations. Somewhere… somehow… I let the enemy steal my joy.
In the moments following this revelation, I began to make a list of why I loved Christmas! Insert the ending of every Hallmark Christmas movie, the Grinch’s heart growing three times it’s size, and Scrooge deciding to be generous! Christmas isn’t about the gifts that can be bought. Christmas is about Heaven suddenly breaking through 400 years of silence with an angelic chorus announcing, “Glory to God in the Highest! Peace! Goodwill towards men.” It’s about the Son of God who fulfilled prophecy after prophecy with His birth and fulfilled even more with His death and resurrection. The manger was only the starting point of revealing God’s desire to restore His relationship with mankind. And contrary to popular belief, the cross was not the end. The cross was the necessary payment that created the bridge so that we, as humans, could once again walk and talk with God. After the price was paid, Jesus Christ rose again truly conquering death and the grave. He now sits at the right hand of the Father in constant intercession, in continual discussion with the Father about you and me.
Gifts don’t have to cost a lot to be special, but they do need to be given in love to be meaningful. It’s not about the dollar amount; it’s about the people. The greatest gift ever given was a person. His name is Jesus Christ. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. He is Emmanuel: God with us. I am convinced that there are two things Jesus wants for His birthday. 1) Jesus wants each one of us to know that we are precious and unconditionally loved by Him. 2) Jesus wants us to love Him too. Jesus isn’t asking for our checkbooks. He simply wants our hearts.
This Christmas let’s throw away the list of what we wanted. Let’s not check it twice to determine if we’ve been naughty or nice. Instead, let us take a cue from the wise men that followed the light of a star in the darkness to find a king in a manger. Come! Let us adore Him!