Jesus came to our small group Christmas party. He just showed up. Everyone was so excited to see Him in the flesh. After sharing a wonderful meal together, we all took turns sharing our answer to the question: What does Christmas mean to you? It was embarrassingly obvious that everyone was trying to impress Jesus with their answer. One guy’s clever answer was, “To me, Christmas is about Jesus, and I really sense His presence tonight.”
It drew laughs from all around the room. But Jesus was quick to reply, “Any more corny jokes like that and you’ll sense His absence.” Then He reassured the jokester with a smile.
The question made its way round the group as four or five others shared their perspective on Christmas.
The lady next to Jesus said, “I hate to sound holier than thou, but I truly do feel closer to the Lord than anybody else in our group.”
“That’s it! I’m outa here!” Jesus rose from His chair and started moving toward the front door.
“No! No! Stay! Please! Don’t go! No more jokes, we promise! Staaayyy!” we all begged.
Jesus stopped two or three steps from the door and turned around, “I’m just kidding.” He went back to His seat and sat down, “I’d never leave you nor forsake you, especially at My birthday party.” He smiled and everyone laughed.
It’s Your turn,” several people reminded Him.
Jesus looked across the room into the flames in the fireplace. Then He gave His much anticipated perspective:
“To Me, Christmas is like Heaven. In the beginning of the season, the parents tell the kids, ‘We’re gonna celebrate Christmas in a few weeks!’ The kids get so excited. As the days go by, their anticipation grows. Eventually, it’s all they can think about. Their parents give them hints about their coming gifts. The kids can’t wait. Will they really receive what they’ve asked for? It’s a lot! Could life really be that perfect for them? ‘Only one week ‘til Christmas!’ Mom and Dad remind their children. Then, ‘Can you believe Christmas is in two days!?’ The kids feel like they’re in Heaven! Christmas is so awesome! And it’s almost here! Then, on Christmas morning, one of the kids wakes up before the rest of the family. She jumps out of bed and runs through the house shouting to her family, ‘It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!’ Her little brother comes romping down the hall behind her, “Let’s go downstairs and see our presents!’ They’re down the stairs in a jiffy, almost flying like angels. ‘Look! I got it! It’s just what I wanted!’ ‘Me, too! Look at mine!’ The kids run to their parents’ bedroom, screaming to them what they’ve gotten for Christmas. ‘That’s great honey!…Wow sweetie, that’s so cool!’ is all Mom can get out before fading back into her Christmas morning coma with her husband. Eventually, they get out of bed and make their way downstairs where the kids are dancing and shouting and jumping, exploding with joy. The whole family looks at the kids’ gifts. It’s the most perfect morning.”
After the party and the last of the guests had gone home, Jesus and I were cleaning up the kitchen. He was washing, and I was drying.
I couldn’t resist, and worked up my courage, “That was a great story tonight about Christmas. But will You please explain it to me? I’m not sure I completely understood it.”
“You didn’t understand that story? How, then, will you understand any of My parables?” He cut His eyes at me and curled up one side of His lips into a half-smile. Then, full of grace and mercy, came His explanation:
Thousands of years ago, God announced that Christmas was coming; He spoke it to Adam, and to Eve. Then he foretold it to Abraham, then to Moses, and then to David. Through many prophets He told of the Christmas gift – where and how He would come. Finally, God sent word to Zechariah, to Mary, and to Joseph. Then on Christmas morning, the first Christmas morning, Heaven was so excited they could hardly contain themselves. Angels burst through the night sky, announcing the Christmas gift to shepherds near Bethlehem. Heaven shouted and praised God as earth received her King. The shepherds went to see, and then ran down the streets announcing what they’d all gotten for Christmas. It was Heaven’s gift to earth, and the greatest gift ever given.
Jesus washed the last pot, gave it to me to dry, and said, “Gotta go.”
I dried the pot, bent down to put it away, and turned to see Him standing facing me with arms spread wide. I stood and we embraced.
“Merry Christmas.” He whispered into my ear.
It was all I could say…