If you were to seal up our house with duct tape, weather stripping, and caulk, it would fill up and then explode with all the anticipation within these four walls.
Last night, we hosted our Second Annual Cousins’ Slumber Party. Cousins and friends jumped on the trampoline, sang along to Christmas music, exchanged presents, and watched the 1966 classic of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Then everyone bundled into sleeping bags and tried to sleep by glow of the tree, to the crackling of a digital fireplace.
We’re at the stage of childhood where it’s really hard to think about someone else’s present. Where when you look through a toy catalog, all you see are things you yourself want. The Nerf gun’s siren song wafts out of every page.
I hear it whispered in conversations as children share their hearts with each other: “I wonder what I’m going to get for Christmas?” And if I were going to be honest—which I am—I’ve had the same thoughts myself.
We have had many, many conversations about the real meaning of Christmas—that we celebrate the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ, and how He gave Himself to humanity to rescue us when we could not rescue ourselves. Every day, we discuss the delight possible for those who give rather than receive, and the joy that is a part of blessing others.
This expectation–this wishing—this wanting—is part and parcel of our season. These kids cannot not want, deeply and desperately.
It makes me think of the holiness of expectation. The beauty of anticipation, and the trust-filled purity of wishing and wanting.
A.W. Tozer put this wishing into words when he prayed: “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
We’ve experienced Christmas before. Feasts and festivals are established, among other things, to remind us of what is true; to remind us of what could be and should be and what we already have. We already know what is wrapped up for believers, the hope laid up for us in heaven.
Here is the present wrapped up under the tree for you today: He “has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12b-14). That’s a pretty amazing Christmas present.
So ask yourself today: “I wonder what I am going to get for Christmas.” Fill your day with holy expectation. Want to want Jesus. Long to be filled with longing. Thirst to be made more thirsty still. The very best present possible is wrapped in love and ready for you: Christ Himself.
There are those who consistently reply to the statement “happy holidays!” with the somewhat crusty rejoinder, “You mean merry Christmas.” I love both phrases, however. “Holiday” is from the Old English, meaning “Holy Days.” So every time someone wishes me happy holidays, or I see it emblazoned on a sign or on a package, I think to myself, “happy holy days!”
These are the holy days. These days when we celebrate the Word made flesh, dwelling among us. These days when we dwell amongst dear ones, making the Word flesh once again. Happy holy days, friends.
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!