As a kid I remember WAITING for Christmas. A few key family rituals helped with that. We had Thanksgiving decorations all over our house from early November on. Christmas music started playing in our home the weekend following Thanksgiving—Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, even Elvis Presley. On December 5 we put out our stockings for St. Nicholas day and found them filled the next morning. Shortly thereafter the tree went up in our home. All these helped with the waiting for Christmas.
As a kid I remember WISHING for Christmas. It started early in the fall with Mom and Dad saying, “what do you want for Christmas?” The wishing intensified as we went to grandma’s house and she gave my sister and I the J.C. Penny catalogue encouraging us to mark things in the toy section. Our wishing continued to soar as we saw wrapped presents begin to appear beneath the tree, none with our names on them. Only the gifts for other friends and relatives appeared below our tree before Christmas. Gifts for our family were hidden away until Christmas morning. That kept us in a state of constant wish.
Though your traditions might have been different I’m sure you can identify with WAITING for and WISHING for Christmas. What I don’t recall doing as a child much was PRAYING for Christmas. Honestly I can say I haven’t thought about that much as an adult either. As an adult I enjoy Christmas, but I don’t pin my hopes on it like I did as a child. So I wouldn’t really consider praying for it.
However, if Christmas is what the scriptures say it is, than it is something to pin our hopes on, and it is something to more than wish for, and wait for, it is something to pray for. That is what people throughout the Old Testament of the scriptures did. They prayed for Christmas. They didn’t call it Christmas yet. That’s our name for it. Christmas is our name for when God brought his salvation to our world in person. In all three major divisions of the Old Testament, the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms, people prayed for God to come and bring his salvation. In those prayers the faithful are asking for God to go with them into the next steps of their journey. They are asking for God to let his face shine on them so that their lives might bear fruit for him. They are asking God to rend the heavens and come down to save them from their own sinful lives, which keep continue to leave them in a host of problems.
We need God’s salvation in all these ways too and God wants us to pray for it; he wants us to seek it from him. When we do, we’re really joining the prayer for Christmas that’s been going on since the scriptures were written.
Now as we pray for it, we do so knowing that God’s salvation has a name, not Christmas, but Jesus. We pray for God’s salvation knowing that God has rend the heavens and come down in Jesus and that these prayers have been fulfilled. However just as Martin Luther wrote in his Small Catechism about the Lord’s Prayer, we are praying “that it (the answer to these prayers) may come among us also”!
Join us this Advent as we reflect on these Prayers for Christmas in the Old Testament and learn to pray right along with them.
Come Wednesdays at Noon or 7 PM, December 4, 11, and 18. Come early for supper at 5:30 pm.