When I was about six or seven years old I told my parents all I wanted for Christmas that year was something I had seen in the display window of the neighborhood toy store. It was a space station set with dozens of little plastic space men in space suits. Included in the set was the station itself—and it was big with several levels and a variety rooms in which you could position the little astronauts. There were also little lunar rover type cars that the astronauts could drive around collecting soil samples and such. There were even two space ships big enough for the little space men to fit into. The ships could “take off and land” in the station’s hangar bay. All this rested on a huge plastic partial sphere that was set up to look like the surface of an alien world.
Well, the moment I saw it I began to imagine the hours of fun I would have playing with that space station set. I envisioned exploring other planets or protecting earth from hostile invaders. It would be great to have that toy for my very own! I decided right then and there—that space station set was ALL I WANTED FOR CHRISTMAS. And to make sure I got it, I went right home and wrote a very detailed note to Santa describing the station and the store that stocked it.
Please understand—I WANTED that toy so bad! It was all I thought about. I YEARNED for it more than anything else. I DREAMED of having it for weeks. I decided I didn’t care if I found no other Christmas gifts under the tree that year. My stocking could be totally empty on Christmas morning and that would be okay with me. ALL I wanted was that space station.
So I was understandably disappointed when my dad came to me a couple weeks before Christmas and said that Santa had gotten my letter but had sent word that I wouldn’t be getting the station. He assured me this had nothing to do with my behavior. Santa said he knew I had been far more NICE than NAUGHTY that year and therefore deserved the toy. It was just that—let me see, how did he explain it? He said, the elves had made a limited number of these space station toy sets…and the ones they HAD made were already spoken for. They had been promised to other little boys who had written requesting them. I thought, “If only I had written my letter sooner!!!!”
Now—when Christmas morning came that year I found several other great gifts under the tree—but it wasn’t the same—because I didn’t get all I WANTED for Christmas. Don’t worry—thanks to years of psychiatric help and counseling the emotional scars that I received because of that childhood disappointment have healed! In fact, I can hardly even remember any details of the incident.
But…do you know what I’m talking about? I mean—do you “older people” remember what it was like when you were little and you WANTED something more than anything? I imagine there are parents here tonight that have been working very hard alongside St. Nick—working with him for several weeks now to make sure THEIR children find ALL they want for Christmas under the tree tomorrow morning. We do this as parents because…well, part of the “magic” and wonder of Christmas morning is GETTING what we want…seeing the answers to those letters we wrote to Santa in the presents we find under the tree.
I bring all this up as a way of reminding us all that the reason we are here on this Christmas EVE—ning…is to celebrate together the EVENT that inspired this annual practice of giving to make dreams come true. I say this because when God gave us His only Son that first Christmas night—when our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to earth….He was satisfying the innermost hopes and dreams and yearnings of every human who has ever lived or ever will live.
You see, the fact is…Jesus Christ is ALL WE ALL want for Christmas.
And this WONDERFUL truth echoes throughout the Bible:
2nd Corinthians 1:20 says, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are [all] ‘YES’ in Christ.”
Philippians 4:19 says, “My God will supply ALL YOUR NEEDS [all your YEARNINGS] according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:32 says, “He Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us ALL THINGS?”
Tonight—to help us fully understand and embrace this great truth I want to talk about this fact that Jesus SATISFIES our yearnings and hopes and dreams. I want to remind you why Jesus is indeed ALL we ALL want for Christmas.
Now—when you boil it all down—we all WANT two basic things. We all want help in dealing with LIFE…and we all want help in dealing with DEATH.
(1) Lets begin with our desire for assistance in coping with LIFE.
This is a an area in which we all need and yearn for help because the fact is, living this life ON OUR OWN can be very hard. We human beings need others—we need outside help. You see, by nature we are RELATIONAL beings. God created us such that we thrive on companionship—and we see this aspect of our design all throughout our lives.
- Kids as young as three years of age start asking their parents, “Can Johnny spend the night?”
- Teens are easily obsessed with finding “the one” person who will make them feel complete. They often go through a stage where they think they just have to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend to be happy.
- And adults my age still love being together. This is why 56 people signed up for CC Day’s White Elephant Christmas party. This is why, in spite of the fact that I enjoyed my Sabbatical—I really MISSED you guys! Worshiping in other churches with strangers just wasn’t the same. I missed relating to my church family.
So—children, teens, middle-agers, pastors…we all love company. We need relationships with others.
- And this relational need doesn’t go away when we get close to “graduation” and reach SENIOR citizen status.
I mean, few things put a smile on an elderly person’s face like the appearance of a child or grandchild or a lifelong friend. My mom just had hip replacement surgery and she had to be in a nursing home/rehab center for a few weeks. She loved our visits—but I noticed the faces of her fellow nursing home residents. They enjoyed seeing mom’s children and grand-children as well. All this goes to show that you and I aren’t Lone Rangers. We are made such that we need to be with people. This is why we consider solitary confinement to be a punishment. Let me put it this way. We are designed such that we can stand almost anything in life if we know we are not ALONE. We need friendships.
But the truth is even the BEST of friends cannot satisfy our yearning for the ULTIMATE friendship.
- Even people with whom we share a kindred spirit can’t be around all the time. Lifelong friends move away or die.
- And…the closest…most understanding of friends can’t always comprehend what we’re going through.
- Plus—even the most trusted of friends don’t always prove dependable.
The fact is we all YEARN—we all WANT—something MORE relationally. Inside we all long for a DEEPER friendship than is possible with another human being. We know that to live life RIGHT—to succeed in the face of life’s struggles—we need that higher form of relationship.
Well, as Christians we of course know that YEARNING—that HOLE in our hearts that other PEOPLE can’t fill—we know it’s a God-shaped hole.
You see, what we all REALLY want as human beings is what the first humans lost because of their sin. We want…we NEED a relationship with OUR CREATOR. I mean, think of it. Adam and Eve were so close to GOD that they literally walked with Him through the Garden every day—and we want that! We long to be so close to God that we walk with Him through our day to day life. We hunger to talk to HIM and get His GUIDANCE in DECISIONS. Experience shows us that we are WEAK and need His POWER to live life right.
But most of all, we need His abiding PRESENCE to deal with the FEARS that come with life on a fallen world—fears that come in so many FORMS.
For example…there are the everyday “PESTERING FEARS.”
- Will the Christmas dinner turn out all right?
- Will I be able to get another job contract when this one runs out in a few months?
- Will the car need major repairs this year?
- How many times will I have to write a check to the plumber or the electrician in the next few months?
These are the PESTERING fears.
Then there are the “PRESSING FEARS”…those fears that are not so easily managed or shelved.
- The economic news goes from bad to worse. Our retirement fund virtually disappears overnight.
- Rumors spread that there are massive layoffs coming in our company.
- Our doctor tells us he wants to take a few more tests. He sees something that worries him.
- Your relationship with your spouse begins to show strain. Arguments become more and more frequent and you begin to fear that your marriage is going to end as another statistic.
Pressing fears like this cause a mild sort of panic and many times they turn into the third type of fear…PARALYZING FEAR, that gut-wrenching, panic-producing “I’m-going-to-die” kind of fear….the fear that makes you feel like you are about to lose it.
We all deal with fears like these every day of our lives and as I said, any form of fear is much easier to handle if we don’t have to deal with it ALONE.
Well, inside, we instinctively know that the only PRESENCE…the only RELATIONSHIP…that will calm our fears is found in God alone. The Person Who will tell us what to do and empower us to do it is our Creator—our Heavenly Father—and we long to be in relationship with Him.
Perhaps this is what St. Augustine meant when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in THEE.” If we were honest we’d have to say that this RELATIONSHIP…is one thing ALL of us WANT for Christmas. We want GOD’S help to live THIS LIFE. But our WANTING our YEARNING doesn’t stop with this life. No…inside we all want…we all YEARN for something else. We long to know how to cope with what comes when this life ends.
(2) We want a way to deal with DEATH.
Now…if that seems like a BIG thing to want for Christmas—well, you are right—it IS—because our BIGGEST enemy is DEATH. In spite of thousands of years of adding to our medical knowledge we all still die. We’ve learned that no matter how well we take care of ourselves—no matter how low our health insurance co-pay is—like an unstoppable invading army death comes for us all—and we ALL want a way to defeat it—but we have learned that on our own this is a battle we will all eventually lose.
I hate to cast a shadow on tonight’s service but the fact is, this very well could be the last Christmas for some of us in this room. Every Christmas is the last one for someone. The experience of every single human being ever born shows that Hebrews 9:27 is true when says, every “…man is destined to die…” And Romans 5:12 tells us why this ALWAYS happens. It says, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” So, death comes for us all and we instinctively hate the FINALITY of that fact. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men…” which is why we hate death…why we yearn for MORE than this life. Like the rich young ruler we all want to know the answer to this question, “What must we do to have ETERNAL life?” (Mark 10:17) We want to defeat death—we ALL long to live forever.
So—to summarize we all want help in dealing with THIS LIFE—and we want…we yearn for a way to defeat DEATH.
Well the astoundingly wonderful news is that when God gave us Jesus—He was satisfying BOTH of these WANTS and more! The reason we celebrate the birth of that baby in a manger in Bethlehem is because He is indeed ALL we ALL want for Christmas! You see, Jesus came to take away our sin—He came to remove this BARRIER that exists between us and our Holy God so our relationship with our Creator can be restored. Ephesians 2:13 says, “[Jesus] is our peace…He has destroyed the barrier [between us and God]…for through Him we [now] have access to the Father.” Because of Jesus—because of the birth of Immanuel—God is with us! We never have to face fear alone again! We are never without GOD’S guidance. We no longer have to struggle through life on our OWN strength.
And—in relationship with Jesus we never have to fear death again. You see, He was born to die in OUR PLACE—BORN TO DIE OUR DEATH. Romans chapter 5:20-21 says, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20b-21) And do you remember the words of John 3:16? Say them with me: “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only Son that whosoever believes in Him will NOT perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE.”
So—Jesus is indeed ALL we want for Christmas. When God gave us His Son, He gave us everything. In that one Gift He was making THE way to satisfy ALL our deepest longings and yearnings.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story Woodrow Kroll tells about a wealthy man and his son who loved to collect rare works of art.
They had everything in their collection, from paintings by Picasso to those by Raphael. Father and son would often stroll together through the mansion and admire all these great works of art displayed on its walls. When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous. In fact, he died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. When the father opened it a young man stood there with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day. He was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man he had rescued. The father stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. He was so drawn to the way he had portrayed his son’s eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture but the young man said, “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. A few months later the father died and news spread that there was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. As the auction began the painting of the son was placed on an easel and put on the platform. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice shouted angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs and the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?” he cried.Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the father and his son. He said, “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.
The auctioneer said, “We have $10, who will bid $20?” No one responded. Finally someone from the back impatiently said, “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” But the auctioneer asked again, “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting on the second row shouted. “Finally! Now let’s get on with the collection!” But the auctioneer laid down his gavel and said, “I’m sorry, the auction is over.” The man asked, “But what about the other paintings?” The auctioneer said, “I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
Well, our Heavenly Father has made a similar stipulation hasn’t He?
God gave us His Son 2,000 years ago—sending Him to earth to die on a cruel cross. And, much like the auctioneer, His message to us today is this: “The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?” …because you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything. Whoever accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord gets ALL he or she wants…for Christmas.
Each Christmas Eve we observe communion to remind us of this truth. And as we do so tonight, let me invite all Christians present to partake with us. Even if you are not a member of this church….If you are a Christian…if you are His, this is Yours.
THE ORDINANCE OF COMMUNION