"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Luke 2:10-12 (KJV)
This is a busy time of year. People are shopping, planning, decorating and wrapping. It is the time of getting together with friends and family, exchanging gifts and sharing memories. Stores are watching their bottom line and hoping that the sales for the season will be high. Employees in every field are hoping for a Christmas bonus to help pay for all they have spent to make the holiday a happy one.
As adults are rushing to get everything ready, children are making lists and writing their letters outlining what they want the jolly old man in red to bring them on Christmas Eve. Images of elves and flying reindeer fill their minds as they hang their stockings by the fireplace and help in hanging ornaments. And as they dream of waking up on that special morning, their hearts are full of anticipation and their minds focused on how much fun they are going to have.
Seasonal music is something I look forward to. There is something about it that touches me like no other tunes I listen to. And I never miss the television specials, even if I have seen them every year since I was a child. I allowed my daughter to believe in Santa Claus when she was young. It had been magical for me and I wanted her to experience that. However, I also made sure she knew that Christmas was about Jesus' birth and that without Him there would be no Christmas. When she asked if Santa was real, I told her this, "Santa is real as long as you choose to believe in him. When you stop believing, he stops existing. Jesus, on the other hand, is real whether you choose to believe in Him or not. Jesus is not just a story. He is living and with us all the time. He is the one that stays with us and loves us and forgives us when we do something wrong."
I, like any parent, have made many mistakes. It is sometimes difficult to make the perfect choices for your child. Many moms and dads choose never to allow their young ones to believe in a man from the North Pole who makes toys for good girls and boys and delivers them by coming down the chimney. Personally, I don't find fault either way. The most important thing we can do for our offspring is to teach them what the Bible says and introduce them to the Savior. They will outgrow fairy tales but the Truth will stay with them all their lives.
It is our job to make sure they know the difference between fantasy and reality. Of course, the very best way to do that is by modeling what we teach them by living authentic Christian lives. They need to attend church with their parents and they need to hear them praying at home. They need to witness us reaching out to those in need and to know that we rely on the Lord for our own needs to be met. They need to be shown what gratitude truly is and to know the difference between charity and greed. Scripture should be a regular part of their daily intake. Just as they need a healthy diet physically, so they need to be raised spiritually healthy.
Last week my message was about Mary and what she actually knew as she held her holy newborn. We can't know for sure, but we do know how we feel about our own children. When I became a parent I experienced love greater than I had ever dreamed possible, and I have felt pain much more deeply as well. No matter what gifts I put under that tree for my daughter each year, the greatest legacy I can leave her with is the knowledge that her mother loved Jesus with her whole heart, mind and soul and to have done everything possible to develop that in her as well. To point our sons and daughters to the Lord and equip them as best we can to live a sincere Christian life is undoubtedly the greatest gift we can bestow. God bless.