My Prayer For You This Christmas
~By James Dillet Freeman
At Christmas it is easier to see the wonder of things. I am not sure whether the wonder wells up closer to the surface and things actually have more of a glory or whether things look the way they do because we are looking at them with more wonder in our eyes.
Is the wonder in the things, or is it in us? I would say it is in both. Certainly, things take on a special wonder at Christmas. With candles at our tables, with wreaths in our windows, with holly at our doors, with our houses festooned with colored lights, with the lampposts hung with fir boughs and bells, with mailbags bulging with greeting cards, with every shop window a window dresser's triumph, with the downtown streets alive with noisy, jostling crowds of joyous people all bent on bringing happiness to others—it is as if at Christmas God gift wraps [the] world.
Christmas has power to quicken our sense of wonder because it turns us into children. Children have a wonderful sense of wonder.
So tonight, before you fall asleep, lie still for a moment, shut your eyes, and think back to the Christmas of your childhood. Or better yet, feel for the wonder in your heart.
Can you remember what waiting for Christmas was like? It is hard to find words for that feeling.
Hope? Hope sharpened into ecstasies of expectation!
Desire? A longing so intense you could but half-believe the day of consummation ever would arrive!
Excitement? What a willowy word! A fever of the mind, so hot it was likely to produce a fever of the body!
Dreams? Dreams spawning dreams, proliferating fancies, a sweet delirium of snow, Santa Claus, toyland, reindeer, fruitcake, bicycles, bonbons, and ten thousand other delectable items stirred into the brain until it was a brain no more, but one stupendous plum pudding of imagination, set ablaze!
I remember the doubts that were sowed in my mind too. I was told if I misbehaved, I would find when I rose on Christmas morning, coal in my stocking instead of gifts.
Since I had always misbehaved and knew, if I got my just desserts, coal it would be, I always took down my stocking with dread mixed in with my hope. But always when I upended it, the Christmas stocking spewed into my greedy fingers not coal, but oranges, apples, nuts, jackknives, toy boats, tops, and as many other small surprises as could be crammed into its expandable depths.
Perhaps this is one small reason I believe in a God who is infinite forgiveness and loving-kindness. ...
And under the tree there were not all, but enough of the things I had hoped for, wished for, thirsted after, and written Santa Claus about to make me still certain these many years later that Christmas is a wonder and Christmas morning a dream come true.
I do not mean that Christmas just has meaning if you get things. I remember one Christmas when I got nothing. No gifts. No tree. Not even a piece of rock candy. Nothing at all. I was pretty heartbroken. But later in the day my sister and I went downtown to the Mayor's Christmas Tree Party. Thousands of boys and girls were there. We got sacks of candy and nuts. She got a doll. I got a little mechanical man who danced on a box when you wound him up. But I wound him too tightly, and by the time I got him home, he could dance no more. But this Christmas like all the others, happy or troubled, is part of the wonder. Christmas, even for a child, is much more than getting things.
Christmas is not getting things, because Christmas is not things at all. Christmas is a wonder. And it is for wonder.
Christmas is believing.
Christmas is hoping.
Christmas is dreaming.
It is a holiday holy to humanity's dreams and hopes.
That is why Christmas is, first of all, the Christmas story. Christmas is the birth of Christ. The birth of Christ is the birth of humanity's best dream and highest hope. It is the birth of God in humanity.
Take time this Christmas to read the story again.
Because there was no room at the inn, God was born in a stable. There Mary the Mother bent over the manger, watching her Baby asleep in the hay. The beasts in the stalls—were they wiser than humankind?—knelt down, says the legend, and worshiped the Lord Jesus.
Shepherds came from the fields roundabout. They left their flocks and lambs to tend the Lamb of God. Wise Men came from lands far away. They followed the brightest star that has ever shone in earth's night. Angels sang in the skies by the stable, though only the shepherds paused to hear. They sang of peace to an earth without peace. They sang of goodwill to all people.
Is my mind not a stable? Is my heart not a manger? They, too, can hold the wonder of which the angels sang.
The Christmas story holds hope for us all. For in the story—remember!—both the shepherds and the Wise Men found their newborn Lord.
The childlike shepherds came from near at hand. The Wise Men came from afar. It was after a long, hard journey that they found the Christ.
Angels sang for the shepherds.
The Wise Men probably were too wise to believe in angels. But they followed a star—and it, too, led them to the Truth.
When the shepherds came looking for God, they brought only their wonder, for this was all they had.
When the Wise Men came looking for God, they brought their gifts.
If you are a shepherd, God asks of you only your wonder.
If you are a wise man, God asks of you only your gift.
God reveals Himself alike to shepherds and to Wise Men, to all who come looking for Him.
If you are a wise man, you may have to come by a longer road than if you are a shepherd, but the Christmas wonder, smiling like a newborn child, lies waiting for you to find it.
So if you have a wise man's mind or if you have a shepherd's heart, come take a look at Christmas, and be filled with the wonder of God.
This is my prayer for you this Christmas:
May there always be room in your heart for divinity to find a birthing place.
May you be holy as the angels were,
faithful as the shepherds were,
humble as the cattle were,
wise as the Wise Men were.
May you have the compassion Mary had
and the understanding Joseph had,
and may the blessing of the Christ child be yours,
not because of His birthnight long ago,
but because His love is born in you today!