Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 5, 2005
Don't tell the Christmas story – live it
Love stops cooking to love the child
Light One Candle
Last month, I found myself walking down the street mentally making lists of the things I had to do before Christmas. My list was all about holiday parties coming up; cards to send, presents to buy and travelling plans to make.
Before I reached my destination, I was already muttering about the stress of Christmas and I began to think that if stress and planning is the image of Christmas we present to children, no wonder we have difficulty getting them to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Most parents who celebrate Christmas have sat their children down for the "remember Christmas is about the birth of Jesus" talk. The children usually get this talk as they are making their Christmas lists or on their way to visit Santa. Their excitement and wants are growing as they see the store windows, the television ads and the catalogues coming in the mail.
In the midst of all of this, we take them aside to say that Christmas is really all about birth of Jesus! This has to seem like the proverbial "mixed message" to children. All of this planning and excitement is going on, and then we tell them that this is not what Christmas is all about.
It has to be difficult for a young one to grasp the idea that Mary's baby came into this world to save us. We tell them that this little baby - born in the most humble of circumstances, whose parents were a young girl and a carpenter - is really the Son of God.
We would add that he would live a little more than three decades before he would die on the cross so that each of us could be with God when we die. As an adult that's a pretty difficult idea to comprehend, so imagine what it must be like for a child!
Maybe the challenge for us is not to explain the meaning of Christmas to them, but to show them. In the process it's possible we can do a better job of showing one another about the true meaning of Christmas.
In the Dec. 25 reading of volume 39 of The Christophers Three Minutes a Day book we reprint an anonymous adaptation of St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians as quoted by Father Victor Seidel in his Christmas letter:
"If I decorate my house perfectly with strands of twinkling lights, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen, baking Christmas cookies and preparing gourmet meals, I'm just another cook.
"If I work at the soup kitchen and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing. . . . Love stops cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
LOVE NEVER FAILS
"Love never fails. Video games break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But the gift of love will endure."
It's possible that if we really spend time living the story of the birth of Jesus with the hope and love he brought to us, we will do a better job of not only teaching little children - and adults - but we may more deeply understand the meaning ourselves.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: email@example.com.)
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