Just heard a story about a 5 year-old girl who went to see Santa the other day. She climbed up on his lap and looked him in the eye with all seriousness and asked, “Do you know God?” She wanted to be certain Santa understood what Christmas was really all about.
Here at Asbury we’re also trying to find ways to help focus on the birth of Jesus as the most significant aspect of Christmas, but at the same time, we don’t have any animosity toward Santa – we think Santa’s a good guy. What’s not to like about a guy who’s generous and kind and goes out of his way to make kids happy. Sounds a lot like the guy whose birthday we celebrate. Our plan is to let the people who come to our big Christmas event see that Santa bows before the Christ child just like anyone else.
That leads me to what I said I would tell you last week – another memory I have of a Christmas past, but one that helps me understand how God enjoys our joy.
It was a Christmas several years ago where Jan and I were up late putting together presents and getting things set up for Christmas morning. This particular Christmas we were giving the kids guinea pigs. In hindsight it may not have been the smartest gift. The hours spent cleaning the cage and taking care of those pets were trying – mainly because I was the one having to do the work! (It also happened that we had poor luck with guinea pigs and had to conduct a couple of funerals along the way – but that’s another blog for another time – this is all about JOY!)
As we were setting up on Christmas Eve for Christmas morning we realized it’s not really a good idea to wrap a guinea pig. They move around too much when you try and get the paper on them and then they can just chew their way out anyway, so we decided to just set them up in the living room and let the kids find them in the morning. Well, to hide our pre-Christmas work we decided to put Christmas wrapping paper on the doorway between the bedroom area of the house and the living room. And the best part was the next morning when the kids woke up to find the end of that hallway looking like a Christmas present. Jan and I were on the other side of the paper and watched as they busted through the paper like a football team at a playoff game – they were excited and had huge smiles on their faces. Of course, all that excitement and joy continued through the morning.
That’s a great memory for me. Watching the joy and excitement of my kids on Christmas morning is like nothing else. Seeing how much they appreciate the gifts they receive is what makes it all worth the effort. And I now begin to realize how God must feel as he watches us enjoy the gifts he gives us. When God sees us joy-filled and excited about the blessings and experiences he gives us, I believe it fills His heart with great joy. After all, why would God’s reaction be any less than mine?
It makes me think of the words of Zephaniah 3:17…
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
I pray that as you experience God’s blessings this Christmas you will respond with great joy, and I pray that you will know that your joy is gift back to God.
Holy high Christmas five to you, Mike.