Let me tell you, I was a little shocked this year when I started seeing my children less interested in the meaning of Christmas and more concerned with what may be laying under the Christmas tree. I figured it was time to break out once again with the birth of Jesus story.
As I was reading to them from Luke in the bible, I found myself choking back tears. This has been happening to me lately when I hear Christmas carols too that truly honor the birth of our king. The story of Christ goes as such: An angel came into that dark field where the shepherds were up watching their sheep. They were terrified. It doesn't just say they were hanging out in a dark field, but they were keeping watch at night. It was were they lived vigilant, even in darkness. God chose to reveal this to them at this time for a reason! It is the picture of our lives now. We are living in a world that is dark but Glory be! Jesus is the light!!
So back to the story.
I can only imgaine the light from the angels was so bright as they carried the true Glory of God! Nowadays we have so much artificial light but back then they had never seen anything like that, the brightest light they could have been exposed to was the sun. Then the glory of the Son of God comes and their eyes must have been lit on fire, they weren't just scared, they were terrified!! Then to really top things off a whole bunch of angels joined them on earth and began a break out worship service right there in the field! I bet the shepherds were on their faces weeping. I would have been. That would have been a life changing moment. When I hear the lyrics of "OH Holy Night" I sense the true "Spirit of Christmas"
- A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices,
- For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
- Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
- O night divine, the night when Christ was Born;
- O night, O holy night, O night divine!
- The original lyrics, written in 1842 by a French Poet, state the meaning even more clearly.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!
So I decided to find out what the word Christmas meant. Apparently the word itself means, Christ suffering death. The word Mass was used in the church to mark the death and suffering of Christ.
You can clearly see the importance of this day. This is the translation from Luke that just rocked me, normally we hear a different version, but really think on the wording. It brings tears
"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The Lord's favor rest on me. He came to bring peace and that peace rest on me because I am favored!! Praise God!
This leads me back to the conversation I had with my son about good ole St. Nick. I have never allowed my children to "believe" in Santa. I never did growing up and I survived! They can watch the movies, make ornaments and generally enjoy the lightheartedness the jolly man's legend brings, but I under no circumstances would lie to my kids, or even trick them for fun especially when the real meaning of Christmas, (Christ suffering death) is so weighty and glorious. Don't get me wrong I do not think everyone needs to think like me. We each have to do what God and our conscious tells us. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. This is one way we serve the Lord in our house.
I was a little taken back when I discovered, despite my best efforts my eldest son believed that a bearded, red clad man brings presents to boys and girls based on their behavior. Thank God this legend is not prevalent in Ethiopia where they sustain the real meaning of Christ suffering and death. If that were the case millions of African children were just naughty this year. I tried to tell him this and to appeal to logic. I know the majority of people will think I am a monster for this) But he was still confused. Then I realized the two sidedness I face each year for my beliefs. I work hard telling my kids that St. Nick was a christian man who helped the poor, but only God knows the heart of man and he is the one and only judge to man. Personally I think St. Nick would be appalled and in absolute horror that his name was attached to this legend in this way. He loved and understood the sovereignty of Christ.
As we go out into the world my kids are faced with well meaning adults asking them what Santa is bringing for Christmas. Then they go to school and Santa visits them, and tells them he is real and he believes in them even though they don't believe in him. They are told they have to write notes to Santa asking him for things. Then they get into trouble with adults because they are ruining the fun for the other kids when they say they don't believe in Santa. Why does my 8 year old have to behave anything more than an 8 year old who is telling the truth? Don't get me wrong, I tell my kids that they need to be respectful of other peoples beliefs and how other people manage their families. But occasionally there is a slip up like when Nettie told the whole kindergarten class that Santa was dead. She wasn't trying to be mean, just telling the truth because in a sense that is what I have taught her. (although not in those words) Recently when Mason got in trouble with his teacher for saying he doesn't do Santa in his house she was under the impression that we didn't celebrate Christmas. My kids are very confused. It seems the burden lays on me to keep my kids quiet. It is like the Christmas mafia mentality.
This is what I told Mason the other night. Afterward he reached out his little hands and scooped up the air and gestured as if he were stuffing something in his heart. He said "Mom I get it, I am taking it all in"
Mason, the point is faith. It comes down to that. Faith is hard for even the most faithful. It takes a level of a child's faith to believe in Santa Clause, it also takes a level of faith to believe in God. I am not going to waste the precious gift of faith believing in things that are not real. Our focus is that God came down in human form and lived and died for all of us. Christ Masse. We worship God with all of hearts, without distraction from the shiny lights and silly traditions of man. We turn our gaze willingly on the King and his sacrifice for us. I wouldn't want you to share that gift of believing in the unseen with anything but Jesus.
He seemed to get it.
In the end it boils down to this. Parents tell their kids something that isn't true. I doubt it will destroy them or their faith but for us even sharing the glory with any man over God that is asking too much from me.
So please society honor my feelings to tell my kids the truth. I am not a monster, I am not a grinch. I haven't ruined Christmas for my kids. The magic isn't really magic. The truth that makes Christmas special is the wander and awe comes from knowing we have favor on earth with a God that adores us and has laid upon us peace through the birth, death and resurrection of his only son JESUS. It does not get any better than that!!!
To be honest there isn't a magic show in town or fun legend I would trade for holy, sanctified wander.
People kneel down and wait for your deliverance!! Christmas Christmas HERE IS YOUR REDEEMER!