Born a child and yet a king
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine own sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne – – – Charles Wesley
I remember the good old days when excitement about the expected coming of Christmas was simply through the roof. Everything seemed to add to and point toward that growing excitement. Back then, if I remember correctly, the Christmas push didn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Back then we kinda did things in order. Didn’t hear about Santa in July or see Christmas ads or decorations in September.
I remember the Sears catalogue toy section and then later on the special smaller edition of the toy catalogue. That catalogue was the real starting point of big time expectancy for the coming of Christmas. We, as kids, would spend hours on end going back and forth through that book. We knew every page, especially the pages that had that special toy that spoke to us. We would circle those items we wanted included in Santa’s big old red toy bag. But that one toy that we just couldn’t live without, that is the one we circled with big bold lines.
I remember the one Christmas I wanted more than anything else a pair of roller skates. For those who don’t remember, these skates were medal and fit (by way of a skate key) on the outside of your street shoes.There were straps on the back of the skate to hold the skate around your ankles. I had told everyone I knew as often as I could. Everyone in the world knew I wanted roller skates. On Christmas Eve my family had made the trip to Madison to spend the night with my uncle Charles and Aunt Louise. That night, after supper and television, I was sitting in the floor beside the Christmas tree. I saw a box that had my name on it. Of course I picked it up and shook it. It sounded just like skates. I announced to my dad and uncle Charles that these were the skates I wanted. I just know it. I am absolutely sure. I went to bed knowing what was in that box.
What I did not know was that I had a tricky father and uncle. After I went to bed they went out into the garage, found a brick, put some nails in the holes of the brick and rewrapped that package. Christmas morning, I came running into the living room, snatched up that box, opened it and instead of finding what I absolutely knew were skates, I found a brick and nails. I know my jaw dropped, my expression changed to one of great confusion and wonder. What happened to my skates? FYI: I did get the skates before the wonder turned to tears.
The Israelites had been under oppression from foreign rulers of many years. They were not able to live out their faith except under threat of persecution. They longed for a Savior to come and set them free. This Savior had been promised since the time of Isaiah. People of faith knew that the time was near when this long-expected Jesus would come to set their people free. Oh, how we long to be free of those things that hold us in slavery. How we long to spread our wings and soar to the heights of faith.
Do we long for the Savior as much as I, so long ago, longed for those roller skates? If we shake the box we may not find exactly what we were expecting. However, as we receive the gift we will find everything we ever needed.
Dear Lord, who came to us so long ago in the birth of Jesus, the Christ, be born in us anew today. We offer our lives as home to you and ask for your grace and strength to live as your faithful, joyful, expectant children, always in and through Jesus. Amen.