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Summary: Joseph thought he knew what he wanted: freedom from embarassment, a normal life, a few friends to support him. But in listening to the Spirit he found that what he really wanted was to love and to be loved, to be significant, and to be understood by God.

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What do you want for Christmas? I hope there’s somebody

in your life who is asking that question. I am not one of those

curmudgeons who thinks we should do away with giving gifts

at Christmas. Yes, it gets out of hand. And yes, it’s all very

commercial. But still, gift-giving is a part of the joy of the

season. Let’s not throw it away. So, what do you want for

Christmas?

Those of us of a certain age can remember when the answer

to that was framed in a silly song, “All I want for Christmas is

my two front teeth!” Remember that?! Sung by a six-year-

old moppet trying to figure out what had become of her

choppers. “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my

two front teeth .. “ What a classic! And you think popular

music today is empty and pointless? That’s your opinion,

from the generation that gave us not only the “two front

teeth” song, but also such inspirational wonders as “Rudolph

the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and that profoundly spiritual

number, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”! So who says

they don’t write music like they used to? Thank goodness

they don’t!

But, now, really, what do you want for Christmas? I have

never been good at answering that question. I have a hard

time figuring out what to give for Christmas, but I have an

even harder time deciding what to ask for for Christmas.

Long about December 20th or so, despairing of any hints from

me, my son, my daughter, and my wife call each other up

and ask, “What does dad want?” They just despair of ever

figuring out what I want, because I don’t know myself. Part

of that is that I was trained early on not to want things we

couldn’t afford. I got introduced early to the peculiarities of

Santa Claus’s budget; I learned in my childhood that Santa

had thousands upon thousands of boys and girls all over the

world to take care of, and so his budget was suspiciously

similar to the budget of a postman trying to keep the house

warm and put clothes on his growing boys. There were no

frills in Santa’s budget! So I learned early not to want

something that was out of reach anyway.

What do I want for Christmas? One year I tried to go super-

spiritual. I said to my family, don’t give me anything. There

is nothing that I need and nothing that I want, so take what

you would have spent on me and put it in the International

Missions Offering at the church. Just give it to missions, and

I will be happy. Well, that was a struggle. First, they didn’t

think I really meant it. They knew that we say things that

sound spiritual, but we don’t really mean it. And second,

they felt that I had to have something to open, something

under the tree. A slip of paper saying we gave a hundred

dollars to missions just didn’t get it. No, they said, that won’t

work. That’s what you say you want. But come on, what do

you really want for Christmas?

Isn’t it true that what we say we want may not be what we

really want? What we think we want at the moment may not

be what we ultimately, bottom line, really want. We may find

out that down deep, beneath the surface, there is something


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