What do we really need for Christmas?

December 18, 2020


A modern-day poet of sorts, wrote, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find . . . you get what you need.” Although that ditty is definitely not in any hymnal I know of, the message rings true for the baby who was born 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. He wasn’t what the world wanted or had in mind for a Savior but was definitely what we needed. 

What was considered to be the very first Christmas didn’t fulfill our wants and many people seemed disappointed. “We,” as humans, wanted a royal king. We expected and looked for a warrior, strength and riches. Instead, we got what seemed to be a regular baby born to regular parents in a dirty manger with common animals. That wasn’t what we wanted at all. 

Studying the Sears Christmas Wish Book was an all-American pastime. We made our list and Santa checked it twice, deciding for himself who was naughty or nice. 

Someone would always spoil the fun by asking, “Do you really “need” it, or do you just “want” it?

It’s the time of year we’re encouraged to think of others, yet the tradition to make lists really taught us to think of ourselves. We learned it’s all about what we want. Do you want a hippopotamus for Christmas or is all you want for Christmas your two front teeth? Maybe you could slip a sable under the tree – for me? What do you want Santa to bring you? 

Me-me-me goes along with Ho-ho-ho. But then, we unwrap something that isn’t quite the right size, color or brand — or heaven forbid, a household appliance (don’t get me started). 

We’re polite but make a mental note to do a better job of hinting the next year. (Don’t worry, the pots and pans became a teaching moment for him). 

Sometimes God allows us to have exactly what we want, but other times, like in Bethlehem, he gives us what we need. 

In this age of turbulence, we want peace. Well, it just so happens, the baby sent to be our Savior specializes in peace. 

Staying home in quarantine has made us lonely, but Jesus has promised with him, we’ll never be alone. 

How about those who are angry about social issues or politics? It was the plan all along for the child in the manger to grow up and teach us all about love. 

Peace, hope and love were already given to us on that first Christmas, but we’re still crying for it now. 

I guess many of us dismiss the gift because we think we’re too much of a mess and couldn’t possibly deserve such a good thing, but the heart of Christmas is the offering of healing, forgiveness and beautiful new beginnings. The baby, so lowly and meek, was specifically sent to help us cope with the trouble and mess we’ve made, and then, take the punishment for us. 

The story of Christmas may not have been the one we wanted, yet in his wisdom, God knew just what we needed for Christmases past, present and forevermore. 

This story first appeared in Advance Publication newspapers in Alabama and beyond.

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