Leighton Ford column: What does God want for Christmas?

Do angels see what’s going on here on earth? And do they talk about it? Dr. Luke tells us they do. (Look up his story of Gabriel and Mary in his Gospel account.) Also Oxford professor Novelist C.S. Lewis in “Screwtape Letters” has devils conversing; presumably angels are at least as eloquent as demons.

So imagine the following.

Two junior angels are assigned to view and report back on recent happenings. When they return, a senior angel has some questions.

“What did you see?” he asks the first junior angel.

“Thanksgiving Day was my watch,” he says. “Mostly I saw people stuffing themselves with too much to eat, and half sleeping as they watched big men hit each other on the TV. I didn’t hear as much thanks as I hoped.”

“And you?” the senior queries number two. “What did you note?”

“They call it Black Friday for some reason,” the junior responds. “I never saw so many anxious faces, rushing around, buying cartloads of stuff, pulling and punching to get what they wanted. And then they were pretty worried about whether they got what those they were buying for really wanted. It was, actually, pretty black.”

“And what about the Father?” asks the senior angel. “Did many of them stop to ask what he wants?”

The two juniors look at each other. And glumly shake their angelic heads.

At Thanksgiving I asked family and friends, “What do you think God wants for Christmas?”

I also posted this question on my blog and got more responses than most anything I have written recently. Here are a few.

• All his kids coming home for Christmas.

• Our whole-hearted love.

• To be recognized when he shows up.

• To begin satisfying our deep-seated hunger for justice.

• For us to be his partner in every effort for goodness.

• To re-gift the grace he gave to us.

• To feed his sheep and look out for the least of them.

• And (a surprise one) “a pony”!

I like these from our family gathering:

• To care about him and not the presents (granddaughter Leighton).

• To know his son (granddaughters Christine and Anabel).

• To have tender hearts to listen to him (son-in-law Craig).

A friend answered the question in one word: “Me.” (Actually it was a typo, but it spoke realms of truth). God wants me. And you. And what does he want with us? For us?

Remember what those angels sang when Jesus was born? “Glory to God in the highest, peace on Earth among those he favors”?

Two centuries after Jesus, Irenaeus wrote: “The glory of God is a human fully alive.”

God showed his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, the “image” of God. In him the invisible God became visible, full of saving grace and truth. When we receive him, God makes us truly alive, with life in all its fullness. And through Christ he gives us the Spirit to make us what Luther called “little Christs.”

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote,

Christ plays in ten thousand places,

lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

to the Father through the features of men’s faces.

This, I believe, is what God wants for Christmas – for us to unwrap and receive his most amazing gift, the transforming spirit given us in Christ, so that when people see us, seeking justice, practicing grace, they will see at least a small but true reflection of Christ.

Then there will be glory to God! And, by God’s favor, a larger measure of peace on earth.