Summary: An open letter to God at Christmas

Christmas Eve December 24, 2003

Micah 5:2, Luke 2:1-20 Trinity Lutheran Church

All the Small Things

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2

An open letter to God at Christmas:

Dear God,

I’m writing to you this Christmas in hopes that this letter won’t end up in the same place that most of the letters to Santa end up in the post office. It’s not that I’m a skeptic… or a Scrooge… but maybe just a little jaded, and tired, and in need of a little more faith. I guess I’m writing to you rather than to Santa mainly because this, after all, was your holiday, your holy day, first… before Santa and his elves and the mall ever got a hold of it!

The thing about Christmas, Lord, which really strikes me, is how big everything seems to become around Christmas. To hear Luke tell it in your Bible, Christmas is really about how you made great things small, so that we could comprehend them. Most of the time, for me, though, it’s about how I make small things so big! I take this one day on the calendar and make it the largest event of the year! No other date on the calendar comes close, especially if you’re a kid (or in retail)!

My expectations always seem to grow to gargantuan proportions at Christmas. Remember when I was ten, and just had to have that microscope? Or when I was thirteen and my life would be complete if only I had that .22 rifle? Or when… well, you know the rest, all of those small things that I dreamed would make all the difference in the world if only I could have them. I suppose my expectations have changed regarding Christmas, but they haven’t shrunk! I still expect more contentment, more satisfaction.

Maybe this Christmas my kids will be so overjoyed at the first present they open that they’ll actually forget the other packages lying under the tree, and they won’t throw it into the pile as they reach for the next one. Yeah, and maybe monkeys will fly out of my pants. Maybe if I buy this thing for this person, it’ll make up for the way I treat them, or ignore them, or take them for granted the other 364 days of the year. Somehow, Lord, I manage to put an awful big weight on one small gift.

My expectations get so big, Lord! I expect my kids to be especially well-behaved, my wife to be a mind reader and all things familial to be sweetness and light… as long as I don’t have to change… much.

But it’s not just my expectations, or my Visa card balance that gets bigger at Christmas, and you know it. For some reason, Lord, this time of year always seems to tempt me into making huge the things that ought to be small in their proper perspective.

My anxieties grow larger, as I look at my kids and wonder if I’m being the kind of parent I need to be for them. (I forget, sometimes, that with the gift of these babies you also promised me the gifts to care for them.) In the dark of late December, Lord, I get to thinking about another year gone, and the fact that I’m already this old, and what have I done with these precious years and is this where I’d imagined I’d be at this age… and it’s all going by so fast!

My pains and my losses always seem more magnified this time of year, too. Lord, why is it that every loss, every failure, every shortcoming seems to grow in my consciousness at Christmas? My lost loved ones, my failed relationships, my propensity toward selfishness, my fear of weakness and old age, my lack of trust in you… I have a way of making them big to the point of overwhelming, when in fact they should be so small in light of what you’ve done for me and all you’ve given me.

I know this all might sound sort of whiny to you, God, and I apologize for that, but I want to be honest with you. My intent in writing to you this Christmas wasn’t to depress you, but rather to thank you. Specifically, I want to thank you for Christmas and all that it means. My tendency to make small things huge isn’t your fault, and all of that garbage would overwhelm me if not for the fact that you, in your infinite wisdom, decided to make great things small… for me.

You, the creator of all things, came into my world in the smallest of places, Bethlehem, a backwater wide-spot-in-the-road out in the middle of nowhere. You, the Ancient of Days, came to a working-man carpenter and his teenaged bride-to-be, people of no greater importance or stature than me. You showed yourself first to shepherds, men of no real social station, with the stink of the field on them. Most importantly, you wrapped your infinite self in the fragile, very mortal flesh of a baby. When you did that, coming to me in the smallest, most vulnerable form imaginable, you made it possible for me finally to receive you.

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Peter Junor

commented on Dec 22, 2006

This is a terrific sermon. A very helpful, accessible way for people to join in on a reflection, thoughtfully based on Micah 5:2. Thankyou for this blessing!

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