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What I want for Christmas

December 23rd, 2008 Posted in encouragement, holidays, Pastor's corner, sermons

I have always believed in the promise of Christmas. There has always been something special to me about this time of the year, going back to my earliest days of childhood.

What is it that we love about Christmas, once we get past the initial trappings?

I think it is the sense of wonder, beauty, and anticipation. It is the music, the look of surprise on a child’s face, and the amazing food. It’s the companionship of family and good friends. It is also the absence of strife and meanness (that is, with the exception of the crowds on “Black Friday” at Wal-Marts in New York state).

Does Christmas deliver on its promises?

But how often does Christmas really deliver on its promises? A little bit here and there, but by and large, it ends up being the endless drone of mind-numbing ads on TV.

It is the friction and pressure that comes when we are obligated to purchase gifts for people we barely know. It is the expectation put on us by others and sometimes even ourselves.

The post-Christmas letdown

Then there is that big post-Christmas letdown. The letdown of expectations that can never really be met.

We were not able to give what we really wanted to give, or what they really wanted to receive. Or you yourself did not get what you had hoped for. Then there are those bills that come due . . .

Christmas at its worst

So what is Christmas at its worst? It is a crass, commercial, empty, exhausting, and very expensive ritual that drags on endlessly for months at a time.

Christmas at its best

What is Christmas at its best? It is a glimpse of things to come–the beauty, the worshipful music, the adoring angels, the love, the warmth, the promise, the hope . . . all things promised to us in a life to yet come.

You see, Christmas is a promise. It is a promise that has not yet been fully kept.

Christmas cannot be all that we want it to be. It’s only a holiday. Christmas cannot bring harmony to your home. Christmas cannot bring peace on Earth. Christmas cannot bring happiness.

But Christ Himself can do all of this and more. That is really what we are longing for deep inside.

  • Not Christmas, but Christ.
  • Not merriment, but the Messiah.
  • Not goodwill, but God.
  • Not presents, but His presence.

Anything or anyone short of this will disappoint. But God never will.

That’s what I want for Christmas–Jesus Christ.

So Merry Christmas!

11 Responses to “What I want for Christmas”

  1. Mariana says:

    Hi, Pastor Greg!

    Hope you had a very Merry Christmas this year, more deeply enjoyed for the things you’re now more looking forward to, in spite of the temporary separation from your son.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I just read this post and loved the last part. I also read all of the comments so far and really liked the poem Lori shared, and am saddened and happy with the rest of the people who posted. I guess there just more reasons to pray for, so I will.

    Big hugs for you and your family, and all of have posted so far.

    God Bless You all.

  2. Matthew says:

    What a poignant observation, Greg. Or maybe it’s just that you’re willing to say what everyone is thinking. Either way, you express our human condition so well and yet I love how the your blogs and the story for Christians never ends with the all too disappointing truth. I wonder how those without hope ever see Christmas as anything more than the sum of its sad realities. But I know that God puts that hunger there for Him.

  3. Gayle says:

    Greg,

    Some years ago, the late E.V. Hill said, “It is not your birthday.” In other words, it is not about the presents or the festivities associated with Christmas, but the birth of a Savior who came, died, and has promised that He will be coming soon–and that day may be sooner than we think.

    Greg, thank you for putting this in perspective because we as Christians especially need to pause, take a breather, and realize what this holiday is all about.

    I’m thinking about you, Cathe, Jonathan, Brittney, Stella, and little Lucy as you spend your first Christmas without Christopher this year. I know that the love of God and those who support you with our thoughts of love for you and your family are all over the blogosphere.

    You and your family have a blessed Merry Christmas and enjoy your time with your family.

    (((Hugs to all)),

    Gayle :D

  4. Lori says:

    Dear Pastor Greg and Family.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    In His Grip,
    Love
    Lori

    I saw this poem and thought about Christopher.

    “My First Christmas In Heaven”

    I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
    With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow
    The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear
    For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

    I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
    But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas
    choir up here. I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices
    bring. For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

    I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
    But I am not so far away, We really aren’t apart.
    So be happy for me, dear ones, You know I hold you dear.
    And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

    I sent you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above.
    I sent you each a memory of my undying love.
    After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold.
    It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

    Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do.
    For I can’t count the blessing or love he has for each of you.
    So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear
    Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ
    this year.
    Author
    Unknown

  5. Nikki says:

    This too is my first Christmas without my daughter. I truly do need Christ, the Messiah, God, and his presence.

    It was too hard for me to put a tree up this year and I am giving gifts unwrapped, because my daughter wrapped all the presents. This year, I am baking a birthday cake for Jesus.

    I am praying for your family all the things I know you need, for I need them too. Thank you for focusing on the real meaning of Christmas. It is because of God’s gift that I have a promise that I will be with my daughter again.

    Merry Christmas

  6. Deanna says:

    Thanks! I really like the bullet points of alliteration at the end, and the reminder that Christ is what fulfills all the longings and hopes we place on Christmas. It also makes the holiday easier to enjoy, because then you are not expecting anything from the holiday but reflecting on Christ. Then you can enjoy both! :)

  7. Debbie says:

    Pastor Greg,

    My husband, like many others, worked for a company for 20 years but no longer has work. We let our house go and in a lot of ways we are starting over as we head into our 50s. Yet I am thankful for our health, for our family, and for my job that is, for now, secure.

    Pastor Greg, that is all I want for Christmas, too: Jesus, and to be thankful for the life he gave and the lives he has blessed me with.

    Thank you for sharing. May Jesus hold you extra close these next few days.

    Sincerely,
    Deb Long

  8. Linda says:

    Thank you for the post on Christmas.

    My son always experiences an incredible sadness for the holiday season. I am sad alongside him.

    He is hurting because he just had a reunion with his dad, whom he had not seen since he was 7 years old. He will turn 20 in January.

    My son tends to get angry in his emotions, similar to how Raul used to be. My hope is in God that someday soon, he will will return to his Lord and Savior.

    I am sad right now. He is mad at me and does not even quite know that it is his emptiness trying to live without Jesus in his life. It really really makes me sad. He is not talking to me, and he is blaming me for not being a good mom because i am not rich in finances. Even if I had the money, I would not dish it out. He is trying to bully me into getting his desires.

    Please pray, thank you so much.

  9. Kelly says:

    That’s what I want for Christmas too! Beautifully said Greg.

  10. Teri says:

    Me too! That’s what I want for Christmas also~Jesus Christ! Pastor Greg, you really have a gift of expressing the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you for your gift to all of us, Amen. Have a Blessed Christmas with your loved ones.

  11. Ard says:

    Dear Pastor Greg,

    I really enjoyed your post on the promise of Christmas. You always seem to express the whole spectrum of what Christmas can be and what it is for so many of us. Yes, Christmas is the promise of hope for all of us that someday we will actually be in His actual presence where never a tear will be shed again. Thank you for expressing the human side of the season so well.

    Oh, I was taking time to enjoy the new calendar last night. I see into July as my favorite month! The photography is awesome!

    Have a blessed day Pastor Greg. Thanks for giving only the best for the Lord that we may be blessed as well.

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