Every Christmas morning of my childhood I had the same thought. “Today the world gets new again.” I loved it. I could imagine all over the world new and better changing the world into a happier and more magical place. Old toys replaced with magically untouched wonder in a wrapped box. Technology children could scarcely believe. I’d run all over the neighborhood, carrying my favorite item to show off, while knocking on doors, breathlessly pleading with Ricky Valdez, Larry Dittberner and Bruce Miller, “Come on, what’d you get?!” What was there’s would be mine, for they’d need someone to play the game or toy with them. So there was little jealousy, only community property. Christmas was about as socialist as it gets! For the rest of the day we’d move from home to home, playing each other’s games, until we broke them or lost interest.

I remember getting a walky-talky on my 10th Christmas. A space-age device that would actually allow two people to talk with each other-from anywhere!! I couldn’t believe I would ever hold such futuristic sci-fi during my lifetime. It worked so well in our living room on Christmas morning, I was certain it would allow my friends to chat all night, from our own beds, across town, miles and miles away!

…35 feet was the actual range. Unless there was a wall between you. Speaking normally without one, you could hear another more clearly than in those static boxes with antennas the length of a pool cue. I was so bitterly disappointed; my parents feared I’d need counseling most of my adult life for their bad gift choice.

Christmas morning for a kid is like the next new “Lets get serious about our faith” book for an adult. Some clever pundit giving you a way to really care more, enough, be better, get your game on. You have such hope. You’re all excited everything is going to change. And for a little while it actually seems like it does. You and your friends are convinced “This is it!” You’re giddy with pious hope. “This guy really is telling it like it is. Wow, he doesn’t mince words. It’s about time somebody really stopped called out those half-hearted lazy people who call themselves Christians. I’m gonna care more and I’m gonna be better and God and I are gonna be closer!”

…And then you discover it has a range of about 35 feet. Because its tough talking, shame mollifying, flesh appealing sin management can never transform anything! It just gets you fired up, full of new discipline and promise, and then leaves you more discouraged and more full of shame. Or it drives you into moralistic hiddenness, pretending you still like the new game.

This Christmas, there is a Cure. But its not new. It’s the Original gift. Hopefully what I wrote doesn’t sound trite or too cloying, for you might dismiss it and miss it. And you do not want to miss it. For it will not let you down, or disappoint, or fail. It will give you the gift of freedom and joy and intimacy with the God you have often tried to worship from afar. It will give you a way to know and love others and be known in their love. And you don’t have to wait for a relative to give it to you. It’s yours. Your God purchased it. You just have to be tired enough, weary enough of your own righteousness to receive it as a gift. Full righteousness, on your worst day, without a catch. People actually live this way.

Merry Christmas deeply loved ones, already changed ones.

Look for  a new youtube video from us before Christmas, and share it with friends this season

John. One of the Three Amigos, part of the ever-growing neighborhood of grace