As I’ve said in the past, I’ve struggled in recent years with the Christmas season. And I’m making an effort to stay positive this year. This past Sunday I had a beautiful glimpse of what I think the season is about, or should be more about if anything.
After Thanksgiving, we had the chance to go to church with some dear friends of ours whom we lived with in Nashville who now live in Iowa. On the first Sunday of Advent they had their three children dedicated at the church they attend. They have three wonderful, beautiful free-spirited little ones whom they love.
I think typically most of the kids our in the nursery during the service, but that day they had their three kids and we had our daughter all in the service. As you can imagine they didn’t sit still and silent the whole time. During the singing, the lighting of the advent candle, the children s sermon and more, the kids wandered around and explored, smiled, said “hi” to the person behind us and grunted in frustration at times. My initial instinct was concern for being polite and respectful of those around us and making sure my daughter kept quite and out of the way.
Fortunately, the Christmas singing set me straight. I don’t know what song it was but some line about baby Jesus reminded me that we are celebrating a birth, we are celebrating a child, hope for humanity comes to us packaged in a whiney, messy, crying, smelly, wandering, giggling, antsy, tired, noisy, lovely little child.
And I was able to sit back and let the kids enjoy themselves. I think God must have smiled and cried a little as She* watched that scene unfold in Bethlehem 2000 some years ago. It brought a tear to my eye that day as I watched the kids run around, in many ways my hope for humanity is tied up in their lives.
I don’t mean that as an encouragement to shower kids with presents or take frequent trips to see Santa in the mall. I think instead we need to be reminded that what we celebrate this season is that the hope of humanity came through a child, and it is carried on through us (children who have grown to love our neighbors and raise the next generation of children to do the same). Remember, this season is about the children.