Summary: Story sermon for Christmas Eve Communion: God has given us what we have always wanted, but it must be shared.
John had first learned about Nintendo games at the home of his friend David. David was the kid who always had everything first. All the other kids liked to go over there and mess with David’s stuff, so they could go home and whine until they got it too.
John thought Nintendo games were the coolest things out there. Nintendo games, for those of you who are even older than I and are not among the initiated, are games you can play on a computer. You can while away hours doing imaginary battles with assorted villains, escaping all kinds of incredible obstacles, leaping tall buildings with a single bound, and, you hope, coming out at the other end alive and well in Nintendoland.
For months John hounded his parents about getting one of those games. Did I say he hounded them? He did more than that. He pleaded, he begged, he cajoled, he threatened, he hinted; he left copies of the catalog lying open at the dinner table, having courteously drawn a big red arrow to the right spot on the right page. John wanted that Nintendo game so much he could taste it!
John’s parents, more or less to get him off their back, promised that the object of his desires would be forthcoming at Christmas, if ... Parents, you know, are very big on ifs. If he would behave, if he would eat his spinach, if he would clean his room, if he would get good grades. They laid down a lot of ifs. They made it clear they would make that list and check it twice, which Santa Claus cannot do anymore, since labeling anyone "naughty" or "nice" is no longer politically correct!
The biggest if of all: if he would share things with his sister. John had come to that stage in every child’s life, maybe I should say every person’s life, when the most important thing in the world is to have "mine". Mine, mine, and not yours. Mama may have, and papa may have, but God bless the child that’s got its own. So John’s parents told him Nintendo could be his, if he could clean up his act and learn to share.
As the year wore on closer and closer to Christmas, there were some lapses along the way. Try as John might, it wasn’t easy to keep things together. But he didn’t think it was always his fault. His grades sagged a little in October, but you know Mrs. Brown doesn’t like boys. The bedroom was sometimes out of control, but John argued that he was still using all that stuff.
And most of all, John’s fights with his sister continued. Nearly every day there was some kind of squabble over who was going to get to use what. Mom, she started it! You can’t blame me for taking back my own stuff when she took it first!
By mid-December John was getting worried. He tried to salt the dinner table with catalogs again, but dad just said, "What is this garbage on the table?" and threw it away without even looking at it.
He took the direct approach and wrote a Christmas wish list to give to his mom. The list said, “Things I really, really, really, very want for Christmas. One, Nintendo. Two, Nintendo. Three, four, five, ninety-nine, a hundred, Nintendo." But mom glanced at it and handed it back, saying, “We’ve already finished our Christmas shopping."
John was desperate. So desperate that one night, after mom and dad had gone to bed, he got up, went to their bedroom door, squatted down to put his mouth to the keyhole, and invested fifteen minutes chanting in his best imitation-of-a-dream voice, "Nintendo, Nintendo".
Three days before Christmas mom put all those gorgeously wrapped gifts under the tree. John, of course, began his inspection. There were a couple of packages which could only be new sweaters. Those John threw behind the tree, not worth a second thought. But there was one package just about the right size and shape, and it had his name on it. The tag said, "To John, from Mom and Dad, because we’ve always loved you."
John was beside himself with both worry and anticipation. It was a gift, of course, and it came with that unusually affectionate tag, "To John, from Mom and Dad, because we’ve always loved you." Pretty hopeful! Sounds promising!
But John was also worried, because he knew he had not kept up his part of the bargain. He had not done all that was expected of him. He had failed or forgotten a whole lot of things. And sharing! Oh, my, sharing ... with that sister! John knew, deep down, how often they had fought over things. And he knew too that a whole lot of the time he just wanted his own stuff, that’s all. He just wanted it! That wonderful awful, beautiful ugly, glorious terrible, package sat there three long, slow days, silently accusing John. "You didn’t share. You didn’t share."