We just put up our Christmas tree a few days ago, before Thanksgiving, mind you. Something just doesn’t seem right about that. But I digress. A few weeks prior to this, I drove by a house that had put out a menagerie of Christmas icons prepped to light up that night. This was right after Halloween! I peruse Facebook and see friends’ photos of their Christmas decorations with their comments of how they are finally done as if they had just run a marathon.
All this got me to thinking of how much we do to prepare for Christmas. We take hours to pull all the Christmas decorations out and make sure they are placed just so. Some families go all out and their Christmas decorations seem to escape the interior of their home to occupy their yards. And families have certain traditions that must call for a shopping spree or at the very least something handcrafted, such as, that yearly ornament that best describes the year or reminds us of something significant, or some other tradition that helps build Christmas memories. Now, I am not complaining about decorating for Christmas. In fact, I like the festive change, and hey it reminds me that I am about to dish out a load of money for gifts. But again, I digress.
Seriously, my point is this: we take time to plan, prepare, and decorate the interior of our homes with all the festivities of Christmas, as well we should. But I asked myself this convicting question: how much preparation are we doing to decorate the hearts of our children with God’s story?
That is, God’s promise to send a Messiah, the fulfillment of His promise, and why He had to do so. As we decorate our homes, we must prepare to decorate the hearts of our children with the wonder of our God. I am not talking about simply reading Luke 2 on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a tack on to Christmas gifts. And much more troublesome, our children have heard the “story” of the birth of Christ at home, at church, or in a movie, to the point that they begin to see it as a nice but trite story. When, in fact, the story of Jesus’ incarnation is much richer than simply the event of his birth. It begins with a promise in Genesis! We want to lead our children through God’s Story of His promise to send the Messiah, to the fulfillment of that promise in His Son, Jesus, and how we fit within that Story! The wonder of Christmas is God’s purpose of rescuing us from sin and restoring us to Himself. Oh, the wonder of it all that He should do this for me! Christmas is a season of wonder! Jesus needs to be at the center of that wonder in our hearts and in the hearts of our children. I have to confess that I have not done a good job at this throughout the years, and as a parent I want to change this, and I encourage you younger parents to start now while your children are young.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will lay out for you a tradition that started in the middle ages called the Advent Celebration. It involves Scripture reading, greenery, candles, and fire (your kids will really love this part). I will have some ideas too on how for example; you can use your nativity scene to help teach your young ones the Story of our promised Messiah.
I encourage you as you prepare the interior of your home with Christmas decorations to also prepare the interior of your child’s heart with the wonder of Jesus Christ and His Story!
If you have a tradition in which you are able to teach your children about Christ and the reason for His coming please post here and let’s share ideas with each other. I think it would benefit many parents who are just starting or for parents who want to add a new “ornament” into the teaching of God’s story to their children.
Parts 2 and 3 will include practical suggestions, so look for these on Monday, November 21 and on November 28.