Unfortunately things kind of went down hill when the party ended. All the kids and adults piled into the three vehicles they had carpooled in then headed home. All except Michael. He was apparently not quite ready to leave when it was time to go and was still in the play area as the gang boarded the cars. Michael’s mother assumed he was with his grandmother and that he went home with her. It wasn’t until the next morning when she talked to grandma that she realized he was missing. Employees at Chuck E. Cheese found Michael wandering around the place alone at 10 P. M. and called the police.
So yes, by all means, let’s keep Christ in Christmas. But what does that mean? Does it mean that we ought to be sure that part of our Christmas celebration, maybe a key part, involves worshiping him with other believers? That would certainly seem appropriate. Does it mean that we ought to pause during our present giving and feast eating to honor Jesus and give thanks to him for what he has done for us? Absolutely. Does it mean that we should remember those less fortunate than us and give to them as a way of honoring him? Makes sense to me, since Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” So yes, whether it be serving meals or giving gifts or money to the needy as a way of serving Christ, surely we are keeping Christ in Christmas by such acts.
These are all good things and we should surely do them as a way of actually celebrating the birth of the Messiah. But as good as those things are, and they are things we can do to honor him, they are not the thing that Jesus would want most from us. What he most wants from us is our heart. He doesn’t want us to just keep him in Christmas, he wants us to keep him in our heart every day of our lives. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said the greatest commandment, the most important thing in all of life, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
I make life a bit difficult for my wife at this season of the year. She asks me what I want for Christmas and inevitably I fire blanks. I can’t come up with any good suggestions. In past years when my body was still cooperating and allowing me to be involved in more active sports I could ask for a baseball glove or hockey equipment or some other “fun” item. Nowadays about all I can come up with is “I guess you can give me some clothes. I could use a new shirt.” She knows very well that I’ve never been very excited about getting clothes, but at this point I can’t think of much of anything else. However, I know that whatever she gives me I will love it. I will love it not because it’s such a cool thing but because it’s from her. It’s an expression of her love. That’s what matters to me.
However, if she expressed her love to me by giving a gift at Christmas, then the rest of the year ignored me I’m pretty sure I’d find that to be very hurtful. It would be the source of continual pain. What I most want, and what I most rejoice in, is that she loves me every day of the year. She expresses it in a myriad of ways 365 days a year. And this is what Jesus wants most from us. Because we love him just about anything we give him at Christmas will delight him. It’s not the gift he cares about, it’s the love it represents. But what will most delight him is when we rejoice in being with him, when we care about and make every effort to do whatever will please him, when we express our admiration for him and our joy in him, when we give to him, when we serve him, when we trust him and when we tell others about him every day of the coming year. In short, what most delights him is when every day of our lives we love him with all that is within us. Yes, certainly, let’s keep Christ in Christmas. But more than that, let’s keep him in our hearts always.