Christmas Longing

  • Dec. 7, 2015
  • #8766

The strange longing we feel at Christmastime is a yearning for the savior to return and fulfill the promise of his incarnation.

Christmas Longing

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a Christmas memory.

I remember it as though it were yesterday, even though it was so long ago and I was only a little kid on our Maryland farm. There I was, rummaging through our garage one December afternoon, (pretty close to Christmas Eve) when I sniffed the unmistakable fragrance of new leather. I pushed around some things, and there it was behind a box – a brand new bridle for my pony. Right there it was an “aha” moment, because I knew Santa Claus had nothing to do with its being there. It was clear it came from my parents. From that moment, Old Saint Nick was dethroned. I didn’t believe in him anymore. Because now I had proof that all those gifts under the tree, well, Santa and his sleigh had nothing to do with them. So! No more 7-Up and cookies left on the mantelpiece on Christmas Eve. No more bleeding-heart letters to the North Pole. No more sugar for the reindeer. Carrots, either.

But somehow, standing there with that pony bridle in my hands, I was relieved. Something deep down told me the whole Santa Claus thing had all been a plot anyway and I was happy to finally know the truth. And honestly, I have to admit, that’s when Christmas became more, oh, I don’t know, more serious. No, not somber, just more important. I was only 6 or 7 years old, but from then on out, December 25th was a special day, a holy day. It wasn’t about Santa giving a bunch of kids gifts; it was about making much of Jesus and His birth. And for me, even the candlelight Christmas Eve service at our little Reformed Episcopal Church had new and deeper meaning. Almost overnight, Christmas Eve became one of those “silent nights” to ponder the miracle of Jesus.

Boy, did I love Christmas Eve services at our church from then on out. For one thing those services were always late; it was one of those 11pm services that ended at midnight. And for me, being so small, being allowed to stay up that late and well, even going to church all seemed so unusual, so mysterious. The sanctuary was dimly lit but oh, so warm. Up and down each pew, a candle was passed to light the one we held in our hands. When mine was lit, I cupped it and held it tightly, staring into the flame. I felt as though I were holding something holy. When I leaned on the kneelers to pray, I tried to make my prayer last as long as the little candle, as though that would be proof of my heart’s desire that this be an important night. I wanted Jesus to know how special I thought He was.

But always, always, as I sat back into the pew after prayer, I expected something else to happen, something to fill that strange longing inside of me. I kept waiting for something to occur as the hour drew close to midnight like: ‘What was I waiting for?’ It was like this mysterious pull to go beyond, and even step into the other side of Christmas. Looking back, I now know that I was deep into a Christmas longing. That aching that each of us feels this time of year – a desire to be home, to belong, to find fulfillment. That’s because on this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, but the story is not finished. Every Christmas is still a turning of the page until Jesus returns, and He is the answer to those deep longings. In closing, I’d like to share a little bit of Christmas with you today, so visit my radio page at joniandfriends.org and ask for a foldout of my Christmas paintings, something small you can tuck into a Christmas card to pass on the joy of this wonderful season.

Photo: morristowngreen.com

© Joni and Friends

 

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