We love the Christmas season in our family and enjoy all the traditions that come along with it: decorating our home, putting up the tree, shopping for gifts, wrapping all those gifts, looking at Christmas light displays, baking Christmas goodies, attending Christmas parties, singing Christmas carols, worshipping at church, watching Christmas movies, reading advent devotionals each night with the kids in anticipation of the celebration of Jesus' birth.....the list really could go on and on.
I've had a lot of conversations with friends and neighbors this holiday season about the absence of Santa in our holiday celebrations. In fact, our kids don't even really get the whole point of Santa because *gasp* they know he's not real! I know some think I'm completely nuts and that I'm robbing my children of the magic of Christmas. But, you know what? I don't believe in magic at Christmas. I believe in a miracle...a miracle in the form of a baby that was sent to save the world. The miracle of Jesus is what Christmas is and that is what I want my kids to find joy and hope in each and every holiday season as well.
Are we Santa-haters in our home? Absolutely not. In fact, at Ben's Christmas work party, each of our kids had a fun time chatting with Santa...and our four year old even sat on Santa's lap and told him that she celebrates Christmas because that is Jesus' birthday. We watch Rudolph and Frosty and we laugh at Will Ferrell's depiction of a Christmas Elf. And when the warm-fuzzy Hallmark movie tries to tell my kids that Christmas is all about family and togetherness, my nine and seven year old are the first to jump out of their seats and proclaim the truth of Christ's birth.
We've had tons of fun this Christmas season already...and we've done it without believing in Santa. I'm thankful for our church and for the many ways it helps our kids keep their focus on Christ throughout the month of December...beginning with a Bethlehem marketplace at the beginning of the month and ending with a manger build and birthday party for Jesus last week.
I'm also thankful for the many opportunities we've had this month to share Jesus with our neighbors and friends...inviting them into our home and yes, even having those awkward conversations about why our kids don't believe in Santa.
As I have been studying the life of Moses through BSF this year, I am struck anew at the miracle of Jesus Christ's presence in the world. In Exodus, the Israelites were given specific instructions to build a tabernacle, a place where God was to dwell among His people. God desired a relationship with His people and continually provided guidance and a means for reconciliation to Him. He pursued them regardless of the Israelites' continual disregard for His instructions and outright disobedience of His commands.
I am not that much different from the Israelites, consistently falling into sinful patterns of self-reliance and pride, forgetting about God more often than I'd care to admit. There are no tabernacles today, but God still desired a relationship with us. John tells us that "the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a baby that would lay down his life so that I could have a relationship with God. Jesus came to dwell among us, to die, so that we would have life.
We will have fun this Christmas. We will laugh and we will celebrate. But, we will do it all because of Jesus!
For to 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
PRINCE OF PEACE.