“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”Isaiah 9:6
Most concepts of faith and Christianity are difficult for children to comprehend. For parents desiring to impart a Christian worldview to their children, Christmas is the most logical and understandable place to start. Some of my earliest memories include Christmas plays where we acted out the nativity of Christ; Christmas songs where we committed the story to music; and family celebrations where we exchanged gifts. Looking back, I now appreciate those days even more, for it is in those early days that my parents gave me the greatest gift of all—an introduction to Christ and the hope that we have in Him.
Even now it is difficult for our feeble minds to grasp the depth of suffering Christ endured on our behalf on the cross. We cannot comprehend His death and burial, much less His resurrection from the dead. As we celebrate the nativity of Christ, we sing sweet songs about a precious baby. We marvel at God’s choice of the virgin Mary as she carried the promise and delivered Him to the world. We get a glimpse into the creativity of God as He uses shepherds in a field to spread the news. We appreciate God’s foreshadowing and provision in the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The entire Bethlehem experience sets the stage and gives tangible evidence of God’s entire plan—what was, what is, and what is to come.
As my family gathers to celebrate Christmas, we first read Luke’s account of Christ’s coming. We pray with thanksgiving for the great gift we received when the promise was manifested through Christ’s arrival. My parents always used age appropriate terminology so that we could each understand in our own way. Then, in our own time, as our hearts and minds connected the dots, we each placed our personal faith in Christ. We aligned ourselves through faith with the gift our parents had given us so long ago—an introduction to the Savior.
The greatest desire of every parent and every Children’s Ministry should be an effective partnership to introduce and to teach basic truths of faith, trust, and confidence in God, so that as the Holy Spirit draws each child unto Himself, the child is able to clearly see the promise fulfilled through Christ. That is the best and greatest of all gifts. Beyond the toys, games, clothes, or food, the greatest gift by far is Christ himself. While I can remember some of the gifts I received as a child at Christmastime, I will never forget the legacy of faith that was passed to me through my parents and grandparents. Their legacy of faith is still the best and greatest gift of all.
When we look at life and eternity through the lens of Christ, we see things much differently. In an upside-down world where chaos abounds and doubts arise, the hope that sustains us comes from Christ alone. He is the greatest gift we will ever be able to pass along to our children, to our neighbors, or even to strangers on the street. It costs us nothing to share the hope of Christ, but it could potentially provide everything to someone else.