When my children were little, I remember long days, full of diverse conversations. Invariably, mixed in with all the questions about food, friends, and fun, there were a few serious questions, especially during the holiday seasons. One of my favorite questions was related to Christmas. My children, usually around age three or four, would ask me, “Mommy, what is Christmas?”
Such a great question, and one that I loved to answer.
Because for me, Christmas is not just about exchanging of gifts or eating wonderfully homemade meals, but Christmas is really about the celebration of hope, love, truth, and peace. The traditional noble ideas of Advent.
To answer such a great question, I usually took my children to the Scripture. We would turn to Luke 2 and begin to read the account of Jesus birth. While there, we would focus on each person involved and really discuss what each one must have been thinking or feeling.
We began with Mary, the mother of Jesus. She recognizes the reference to the Davidic promises, and to the virgin birth spoken of in Isaiah. And she knows that this is the promised One, the Messiah who will reconcile all things. And so her heart worships, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit is rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has regarded the lowly estate of his maidservant. And behold all generations henceforth shall call me blessed, for he is mighty who has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
And then Mary keys in on the promises of Isaiah. Those are not lost on her as well. “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, exalted the lonely, filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent away empty. And he has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy. As he spoke to our fathers to Abraham and to his seed forever.” Mary understands all the clues. She has put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
We then talked about the shepherds who saw angels for the first time in their lives. These angels tell them good tidings of great joy. Their savior has been born in the city of David.
We would marvel at how the shepherds know exactly where to go. They go straight to Bethlehem. How did they know that? Their fathers and grandfathers have passed down the clues to them.
Then a man who has waited all his life for the consolation of Israel and was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, this man Simeon actually gets to hold in his arms his own God and Redeemer.
Simeon knows what this means for the world. Simeon says this child will be the light to the Gentiles, the glory of your people Israel.
And of course, there is Anna, Joseph, the magi, and so many more. It really is true that the story of Jesus’ coming and birth is full of wonder and awe. So the next time a little person, whether a child, grandchild, neighbor, friend, or Sunday school student asks you, “What is Christmas?”, take them to the Scripture. Fill their little hearts with truth that is eternal and evokes amazement and joy.
Copyright Kerry Beck, 2010
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