Twas the week before Christmas
And all through the house
The children were arguing
About who'd be left out.
Their stockings were hung by the fireplace with care
And the middle child sat with her hands in her hair.
Her sister had told her that she would get coal
In place of her presents, since most children know
That Santa has pretty high standards to face
If you're naughty at Christmas, there just isn't grace.
But Mom interjected--she wasn't amused--
She reminded her kids, who were clearly confused,
That Christmas is not about who can obey
Not even if you obeyed every day
Since no one is good, No, not even one of us
That's why we give you those presents at Christmas...
We celebrate Jesus, the best gift of all
Who came to the world to save great and small
He came to save children, and moms, and dads, too,
He came because we deserved death, yes, it's true.
It's not about who can be naughty or nice,
Because all of our best would never suffice.
His life is the gift that we need to survive
And when we receive it, we're fully alive.
Concerning the coal-talk, Mom called the bluff,
She said, "You're getting gifts 'cause you weren't good enough."
Yep. True story from my house this morning. Couldn't help putting it to meter. (Thanks to my mom, I have a must-parody-everything disease). But for real, my kids have been taunting each other, every time one of their siblings is disobedient, saying, "You're only going to get coal for Christmas because you're too naughty."
It's been a daily conversation, really. And I've reminded them again and again that we don't do Christmas that way in our house. We don't measure our gift-giving by behavior. Not even close.
We give gifts because we're celebrating the greatest gift God ever gave, given to the world when He gave us His Son. And the truth is, not a single one of us deserved it. Not a single one of us was good enough for God.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8).
God loves us so much--wants us to be with Him forever so much--that He gave up His beloved Son. Jesus took on the same kind of flesh that we wear, He took on the challenges of life one day at a time, and He took on a horrible death in our place so that we wouldn't have to die. And then, He conquered death and came back to life. To offer us life. This Jesus--the baby in the manger--He didn't stay in that manger. Jesus came to bring us back to God...to give us the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.
That's why we give gifts at Christmas. And it's why we give them generously. Because we want to remember the gift that was so graciously given to us. The gift of love that we couldn't ever have earned. We never could have been good enough for it. That's why we needed it. That's why it's such a great gift.
I'll tell you, my friend, there's been plenty of naughty in our little house. But to my sweet little ones, I'll say it, as many times as they need to hear it (and really, couldn't we all use good reminders of God's never-ending grace for us, in our over-and-over messing up?): there won't be any coal. There won't be any of this, "You don't get good gifts because you weren't good enough," talk.
In fact, you're getting gifts BECAUSE you weren't good enough.
That's the grace that we remember at Christmas. Jesus took our coal to the cross.