The word Christmas fills my heart with anticipation that something special is about to happen. As a child, after Thanksgiving I’d count the days, hours, minutes until Christmas. Every store window, twinkling light, and song on the radio reminded me that “Santa Claus is coming to town.” The song said, “You’d better watch out,” so I knew I should be on my best behavior. I can still remember hanging my stocking on the mantle with care, “in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” I could hardly sleep and would wake long before everyone else.
Now, I’m still the first one up. I turn on Christmas carols really loud, so Skip will get up. With two grandchildren, it’s even more exciting as we share the lights and glitter with Seth and Kaydence.
The tragedy of Christmas is that some people teach their children to anticipate the return of the jolly man in the red suit, not the babe in the manger. We ascribe to Santa the attributes of Christ: he sees all, knows all, keeps track of bad and good, and rewards accordingly. If children can exude such enthusiasm over the return of a mythical character, shouldn’t we Christians be ecstatic over the reality of Jesus Christ’s return? Perhaps we could use some childlike faith. Jesus said, “Unless you…become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We mature Christians could use a dose of wonder, excitement and anticipation as we await the Lord’s coming.
Who are you anticipating this season, Santa in his sleigh, or the Savior in heaven? If you are focusing your thoughts on what’s under the tree, you might want to step back and focus on the real reason for the season, Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s love,
Excerpt from Live Faithfully: A Study In The Book of James. To order, visit our store