Summary: Don’t neglect your children’s spiritual well-being - give them the gift of knowing what they are really celebrating – Jesus’ birthday.
TEACH THE CHILDREN THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
The arrival of the Christmas season brings with it thoughts of decorative outdoor lights that turn yards into a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors. During this time of year we also think of evergreen trees with their enchanting scent of pine needles. We are reminded of Santa Claus and his reindeer, of candles, bells, stars, wreaths, ornaments, hollies, candy canes and presents. But, sad to say, the most important reason for celebrating Christmas seems to have been left out of the celebrations – Christ Himself.
Some of us make it a practice to set aside one evening of advent a year to cruise the residential areas of the city or town we live in and admire the unique display of Christmas lights. I am overwhelmed by all the work and money that goes into some of those elaborate outdoor Christmas displays. I sometimes wonder how many of the occupants living in those houses, decorated with hundreds and hundreds of lights, have actually seen the inside of a church at least once in the past year. Are their efforts all just for show or are they really and truly expressing their love for Christ in their own particular way through this medium? It seems that for many people the most important part of what Christmas is all about is missing from their celebration. People have become so caught up in the materialistic aspect of the season that they leave out the real reason for the season.
Now, I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with adorning our homes with lights, trees, ornaments and all the other festive things that occupy our thoughts during advent. But they should be placed in their proper perspective. Our outward and visible expressions should bare a relationship to the event. You might ask, what then is the relationship of lights and ornaments and gift giving to Christ’s birthday?
Well, there is a Christian connection with all of things we think about at Christmas including gift giving and Christ’s birthday. We give gifts because we attempt to humbly imitate God the Father who gave His Son as His gift to us on that first Christmas morning. Gifts were also brought by the Magi. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were presented to the Baby Jesus at the stable in Bethlehem. Gift giving is part of our Christian heritage. They are nice to give and they are nice to receive. But, our main focus should be on the holy season – the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Gift giving should not be a ransom to regain our children’s love and respect from months of neglect.
Some parents, in their attempt to appease their children, have spent dollars upon dollars buying their children’s love and respect with gifts. Yet, they have neglected to teach them the true meaning of Christmas.
Over the past few years there have been many e-mail messages that have ended up in my “inbox”. Recently I received an e-mail which dealt beautifully with the true meaning of Christmas. The theme of the message focused on children and was entitled, “Teach the Children.” Let me share it with you this morning. This is what it said:
“I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.
He placed his finger over my mouth so I wouldn’t cry out. “What are you doing?” I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.
He then answered me with a simple statement. “TEACH THE CHILDREN.”
I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, “Teach the children! Teach them the old meaning of Christmas - the meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten.”
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before the mantle. “Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven.”
He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. “Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.
He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. “Teach the children that the candle symbolizes Christ who is the light of the world. When we see this great light, we are reminded of Him who displaces the darkness.”