I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:4
In the coming weeks, millions will sit down in front of their TVs and watch one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time. It’s simply entitled, A Christmas Story.
A Christmas Story is set in the 1940’s, and it centers on a nine-year old boy named Ralphie. Ralphie’s dream is to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Or, in Ralphie’s words, “A Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle.” Ralphie’s life takes all kinds of twists and turns throughout the movie, but on Christmas morning (spoiler alert), he receives the gift of his dreams.
The next time the movie happens to be on, pay close attention to its closing moment. The narrator for A Christmas Story is a man by the name of Jean Shepherd. The movie is based on his childhood, and as the narrator he’s speaking as the adult Ralphie looking back on this perfect Christmas. The closing moment of the movie shows young Ralphie fast asleep in his bed, holding his beloved Red Ryder in his arms. It is then that the voice of the narrator—the adult Ralphie—says this. “[It was] the greatest Christmas gift I had ever received, or would ever receive.”
One cannot help watching and hearing that moment without feeling a small clutch in the throat. “[It was] the greatest Christmas gift I had ever received, or would ever receive.” In those few words, Jean Shepherd—the real-life Ralphie—was acknowledging that the Christmas joy he’d felt, at nine years old, had never come back.
There are times when that truth can hit you and me pretty hard. As adults, you and I may think back to a particular Christmas when—as Jean Shepherd said—“all was right with the world.” But because of your sin and mine, such moments are rare, and they are fleeting.
And that’s why you and I can be thankful beyond description for what God gives to us in Jesus Christ.
Through faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, you and I possess full forgiveness, peace, and eternal life. Because we do, we now possess a Christmas joy not only that is undying, it is also a Christmas joy which promises that the very best is yet to come.
And so, savor this Christmas season. And if this Christmas is far from perfect, that’s all right. In Jesus, joys beyond our comprehension are on the way.
Lord Jesus, my Christmas this year will be far from perfect. But remind me of the joy I have in you, and the perfect joy that is yet to come. Amen.