Grace is Christmas Morning


When I was little, every year at Christmas I would sit next to my Uncle John at my Memaw and Pepaw’s house at their upright piano as he played Christmas carols. He’d play hymns and other Christmas classics (like “Silver Bells”), and for me there was always one song that stood out above the rest. It was our song, and he knew it was the one song that he couldn’t get away from playing so long as I was sitting next to him. So he’d pull out the old sheet music from beneath the piano bench and he would play “Nutin’ for Christmas.” It’s a great song and one of the funniest Christmas songs out there. Here are the lyrics:

I broke my bat on Johnny’s head
Somebody snitched on me
I hid a frog in sister’s bed
Somebody snitched on me

I spilled some ink on Mommy’s rug
I made Tommy eat a bug
Bought some gum with a penny slug
Somebody snitched on me, oh

I’m getting nuttin’ for Christmas
Mommy and Daddy are mad
I’m getting nuttin’ for Christmas
‘Cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad

I put a tack on teacher’s chair
Somebody snitched on me
I tied a knot in Susie’s hair
Somebody snitched on me

I did a dance on Mommy’s plants
Climbed a tree and tore my pants
Filled that sugar bowl with ants
Somebody snitched on me


So you better be good, whatever you do
‘Cause if you’re bad, I’m warning you
You’ll get nuttin’ for Christmas

Still today after all these year’s that’s one Christmas song that I always look forward to hearing. Whoever was singing that song was one bad little boy. Surely we can all agree that he really shouldn’t be getting any Christmas presents! If there is any kid who deserves to be on Santa’s naughty list, it’s that kid! This song puts to words all our feelings about what’s right and just. Good boys and girls get presents. Bad boys and girls don’t.

And yet, that’s what makes this song explode with the truth of the gospel, because at its heart, the song and the sentiment isn’t the gospel at all! The gospel is the reckless and wild message that God has given the greatest gift of all to all of us, boys and girls alike, who have spent our entire lives on the bad list and who deserve absolutely nothing good.

The nativity is not a serene symbol of our worth, our deservedness, our good efforts, or our spotless behavior. No, instead the entire angelic chorus of Christmas screams with the truth that we are so bad, so rebellious, so hopeless, so lost, so evil, so violent, so unworthy, that our deepest problems could only be fixed by the impossible thought of God turning himself into a baby and invading our darkness by being born in a chaotic world amid a manger seeped in the stomach turning stench of manure.

The message of Christmas doesn’t tell us that we’ve all been good and so God gives us good presents wrapped in shiny bows. Instead it sings to us the surprising and scandalous truth that in spite of who we are and what we have done God, Jesus Christ, because of his great love has stepped forth to do the only thing that could be done. So he has given us the best gift in the entire universe, not wrapped in a shiny bow but instead wrapped in a bloody burial shroud that quickly becomes abandoned because its wearer wakes up one Sunday morning and no longer has need of it.

Christmas TreeThat is the hope of grace that the whole heart of Christmas is all about. At the cross Christmas morning has come, and to our astonishment all of us who deserve coals, ashes, switches, and a whole lot worse, are given God, Immanuel, “God with us,” instead, so that like the Magi before us, when we are awakened out of our dark sleep of sin we finally get to rejoice exceedingly with great joy (Matthew 2:10).

The gospel is really good news. We don’t deserve to get anything for Christmas. But the message of Christmas, because it is the message of the Christ is that we really have been given everything.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours,


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1 comment
Cathy Donahoe says December 23, 2013

thanks Cade

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