I don’t care if my kids see Santa Claus this Christmas season….
But I will be devastated if they miss seeing Jesus this Christmas! I fear too many kids miss seeing Christ at Christmas!
I know that most families are making plans for their kids to see Santa. With a 2 ½ year-old and a 4-year-old, most parents would make seeing Santa a priority. My kids do talk about Santa and certainly are looking forward to presents on Christmas morning. There is a good chance that they will see Santa (I hear he will be at the library event that we plan to attend), but I am not actively making plans for them to see Santa. If they see him, that is fine. If they do not this year, that is okay too.
However, if in the midst of getting ready for Christmas, my children miss Jesus, my whole celebration will be ruined. To be honest, it much harder to see Christ at Christmas than it is to see Santa. For starters, Jesus is not out at the malls or at town events. Every year there seems to be even less pictures and cards with Jesus than there were the year before. Since Jesus is no longer on the earth, there really is no way to physically see him this year.
But there are many ways to be certain that we “see” Christ during our Advent and Christmas celebrations. Here are some of the ways my husband and I will work to make sure that the girls see Christ.
We will continue to talk about Christmas being Jesus’ birthday. When Santa is mentioned, I will add that he gives gifts because on Christmas we celebrate the greatest gift that God has ever given us – the gift of God’s self. We celebrate God coming into the world and living with us. Sure my daughters will not really understand this yet – in fact even after 43 years of life and 4 years of seminary (not to mention many years of preaching), I don’t fully understand it either! But they will hear it and begin to realize how important Jesus’ birth really is.
When our tree is lit, I will remind them that Christ is the light of the world. I will tell them that Jesus is the light of the world and that in the darkness, the Christmas tree reminds us that God’s light and hope are always with us. I will pray that when they have dark times in their lives that they will see the light of Christ and know that no darkness can overcome the true light.
Instead of only buying presents for family and friends (people from whom we expect to receive gifts), we already went shopping with other church youth and bought presents for children we do not know. We will later go caroling to give some hope and light to homebound church members and others in nursing homes so that we are reminded that Christ did not just come for us but for all the world.
On Christmas Eve and on the Sundays before Christmas, my husband will drag them to church. They will hear the story of Jesus’ birth. I of course will be there but let’s be honest, I will be up front and have to arrive early so it will be in my husband’s hands to get them out of the house and to church to worship. During worship, they will hear that Jesus is with us. They will see the Body of Christ gathered to hear God’s Word.
At home we will continue to add pieces to our new Advent calendar – a cloth nativity scene – and talk about how we look forward to Jesus coming into the world. We will not only have a Christmas tree decorating our house, we will also have at least one nativity decorating to remind us why we celebrate.
My prayer throughout the season of Advent will be that my children will see Jesus. Hopefully they will see Christ in the love of neighbors and family. Hopefully they will see Christ when we gather at the Lord’s Table for Holy Communion. Hopefully they will be so focused on Jesus’ birth that Santa will only be one of many stories that they hear near Christmas.
My wish for you and your family is that you see Jesus this Christmas! So make it a point to come to Bethlehem with the shepherds and see Christ, the baby wrapped in bands of cloth laying in the manger (Luke 2). Then look out in your own streets and see Christ in the love and hope that surrounds you this Christmas!