Pastor Ron Burcham, Risen Savior Lutheran Church
What do you want for Christmas? That question is being asked by millions of people around the globe. Parents are asking their children, sweethearts are asking the love of their life, and hundreds of men dressed in red are asking it a thousand times a day to the endless lines of children waiting to sit on their laps.
Now, as adults when we are asked this question, we usually answer, “Oh, I don’t need anything.” We feel a little embarrassed to really let someone know what we want for Christmas. (Honey, if you’re reading this article – (Apple watch) – sorry for the interruption, now where was I? Oh yeah, as adults we are too embarrassed to ask for what we really want. When we are asked in a public forum, we start to sound like a contestant in the Miss America Pageant. We get misty eyed and speak of peace on earth, food for the hungry and so forth.
The truth be told we all want things for Christmas or any other time for that matter. There is nothing wrong with wanting things; think Apple Watch (sorry). Seriously we all have desires, and in our culture Christmas is a time when we give and receive gifts. The things that people want.
There are inherent dangers with this cultural custom. A real danger is when we turn our wants into needs. Once a want crosses over to a need, it becomes pretty hard to say no, or realize that we cannot afford it. I am too frightened to look at the latest estimates on how far in debt Americans will go this Christmas, but much of it is fueled by defining a want as a need.
While getting gifts at Christmas and receiving what you want is nice, it is not the essence of the season. Think back with me to the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem, weary from days of travel. Mary is in the final days of pregnancy and has had on and off contractions for the last week, but right now they are closer together and getting stronger. All they want for Christmas is a warm room with a clean bed, so they can get some rest and prepare for the birth of their first child. Then we read, “…there was no place for them in the inn.”
Christmas is ruined! That is, until they look into the eyes of the babe, and it became the best Christmas ever. The fact that Motel 6 didn’t leave the light on is no longer an issue. All attention is now on the child. Shepherds came into town with tales of angels declaring heaven’s joy! On a night when it seemed like everything was wrong, suddenly came the one to make all things right.
While you may not receive all of the things you want, please know that on that first Christmas God met our greatest need, the need of a savior. He came wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Risen Savior Lutheran Church; rslcs.org.