"O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee, bow down Thine ear unto my supplication, For filled with evils is my soul, and my life unto Hades hath drawn nigh. I am counted with them that go down into the pit; I am become as a man without help, free among the dead, Like the bodies of the slain that sleep in the grave, whom Thou rememberest no more, and they are cut off from Thy hand. They laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness and in the shadow of death." -- Psalm 88
Hurried, hampered, and hollow the rituals of our Decembers, filled with the busyness of person, we march as a great herd of migration to the ATM's of our hope; seduced by the sirens of self-satisfaction, clamoring for the latest bargain and newest fad, feasting on the sparse rations of commercialism, while demonstrating to our children the DNA of our desires, we hurdle headlong into the eternal vacuum of our own wants. Seditious is the thought, entangling our conscience and consuming our imaginations. What do you want for Christmas?
Make a list. I always tell my kids to make a list. I remember when the lists were short and sweet. One year a B-B gun and a hat with a flower on it captured their imaginations. One year a copy of the Little Mermaid and a Ghost Buster photon pack. My best memory ... the purple lip stick and a rub on tattoo.
Make a list. What do you want for Christmas? Time has bigger pockets each year. Before they learned brand names, it was easy. Every package wrapped under the tree stood as a mysterious personality, waiting to be discovered and explored. Now the expectation is that the list should be the definer of each surprise, so that the surprise is not what's in the package, but what is not. Or what was ignored or sold out or not available or somehow, over looked. Or, like many, we just ran out of money.
Make a list. What do you want for Christmas? I am guilty of thinking of me and mine, and mine for me, too much. I hurry past the annoying ding-a-ling-a-ling at the store entrance, maybe tossing in the scrap change from my lunch, and want to complete my mercenary mission as quickly as possible so I can enjoy my holiday. Get in. Get out. Get done.
What do you want for Christmas? Haunting is the thought that this sentence did not exist two thousand years ago. Oh, maybe a frightened young virgin, about to deliver, thought some clean straw would be nice. Or perhaps a confused young semi-father-to-be wished for better light and a warmer corner. The wanting was base, stark, desperate in many respects. Unspoken, of course, the want to be healthy and whole in the delivery.
How loud does the pain have to shout at us, in our back-lit comfort and heat pump luxury? While we indulge our wanting, the bulk of the globe cries out in misery or hunger, tramps through the rubble of war and fear, or cowers amongst the shadows as human rats named victim.
So many are weeping aloud their list: "Stop the pain." "End the hatred." "Silence the guns." "Remove the explosive devices." "Dry up the booze." "Flush all the drugs." "Draw back his fist." "Bring my daddy home." "Make mommy stop."
Plaintive the cries: "I am tired." "I am afraid." "I am hungry." "I am alone." "Bow down Thine ear unto my supplication, for filled with evils is my soul, and my life unto Hades hath drawn nigh."
Laced with sarcasm, the lament of wanting for Christmas comes across for so many as an unimagined, unattainable reality other than the feeling that they are lost in the bowels of the forgotten. "Down in the pit ... in the shadow of death," the only real sense of feeling and the truth they know.
Make a list. What do you want for Christmas?
"O Lord God of my salvation, by day have I cried and by night before Thee."
And should it be that for me, and maybe for you, the list this year begins like this: that seen is the reality that the salvation for which this season stands is only, ultimately mine when your salvation is as important to me as mine is to me. That my plenty is but scorn to those who have none, that my safety is false when they are not safe, that my joy is shallow if their sadness is not touched, and that my hope will not be met unless I am willing to somehow be one who answers your hope. Amen.