Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child
When I was growing up, most churches had some sort of a Christmas pageant every year. The average-sized church could pull together enough grammar school-aged kids to be the cast and fill all the roles: shepherds, wise men, angels, the innkeeper, and the various animals that we assume were in the stable that eventful night. The plum roles, of course, were Mary and Joseph, given to a couple of the older, more dependable kids.
It was quite a production! Shepherds wore sandals and bathrobes with towels on their heads; multitudes of little angels donned white choir robes with halos of gold tinsel and gossamer wings. I’m sure some adventuresome churches would use a live baby to play the part of Jesus, but most just laid a doll in the manger. Cutting-edge churches would run an extension cord to the manger with a light bulb on the end to bathe the Jesus doll in a soft glow of light in an otherwise darkened sanctuary.
I read about one church that used the light-bulb-in-the-manger arrangement. Things were going well until someone offstage tripped over the extension cord—unplugging it from the wall. When the light in the manger went out, one of the shepherds, in a much-too-loud whisper, looked in the direction of the cord and hissed, “Hey! You just unplugged Jesus!”
Children “Get It” Much Easier Than Adults
It wouldn’t be a Christmas pageant in church without a goof or two along those lines. And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the innocence of children who seem to “get it” much more easily than we adults. They believe readily, and they speak readily. They have no guile, no cynicism, no commercialism. If you tell a child that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, they’re completely fine with that.
One family I read about had a tradition of setting an extra empty chair at their Christmas Day dinner to symbolize the presence of Jesus at their family’s birthday celebration for Him. After all the presents had been opened on Christmas morning, the grandmother asked her little granddaughter, “Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas, dear?” The little girl replied, “Well, no, but it’s not really my birthday.”
On the other hand, I heard about a small church that had the following message on its sign out front: “Remember Who is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas!” The pastor received a call from a lady in the community who was perturbed about the church’s sign. The gist of her complaint was, “I just don’t think the church ought to try to take over every holiday!”
Children and the Wonder of Christmas
What a difference there is between children and adults at Christmas! I know, children aren’t perfect. There are plenty of Christmas morning tantrums—they’re human, after all. But when it comes to the joy and innocence and celebratory part of Christmas, children are our best examples. The pressures of life often cause us adults to forget such things. I believe every adult’s Christmas would be better if they would spend the season thinking more like a child and less like an adult.
Not only did God the Father send God the Son into this world as the very first Christmas gift to His creation, He continues to give good gifts all year long in an outpouring of His generous grace. The apostle James calls them “good and perfect gift[s]” (James 1:17). And Jesus Himself pointed out how God gives us just what we need. When we ask for bread, He doesn’t give a stone. When we ask for a fish, He doesn’t give a serpent. What father would do such a thing? Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).
Despite all the threats of “coal in your stocking,” little children don’t expect to get “bad” gifts from their parents. Our kids trust us! They believe we have their best interests in mind. Could there be a better opportunity than Christmas to convey to a child how much his heavenly Father loves him and that He has a lifetime of good gifts to give?
Be excited, be playful, be as extravagant as you can, and be a model of the excitement God has when He bestows gifts on us. And if you’re feeling blue this Christmas, find a kid and brew up some hot chocolate or reach out to a disadvantaged child—you’ll discover afresh the joys of Christmas.