Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Every which way you can

Advent is not to be confused with advertisement.  But in the retail rush, the 70 percent off sales before Christmas sales, the decorations and weight gain, somehow baby Jesus gets lost in the shuffle.

Teach your children the story of Christmas every which way you can.  Learning of any kind is secured through use of many dimensions.  Read it, sing it, recite it, act it out, cook it, talk about it when you sit in the family room, stand in the kitchen, and walk through the grocery.

We are surrounded by conversation starters.  Every Christmas light proclaims the Star, and the evergreen trees reveal the life He brings. This week, our grandchildren found a box of candy canes in our pantry.  And on the back of the package was written about the significance of the shepherd's crook, representing those who witnessed the glory of the angels over the grandest birth of all.

More than thirty years ago one December, we were invited to a friend's house for dinner.  And what welcomed every guest to their home was a nativity set, just inside the front door.  "Always, front and center," my friend indicated.

I have always remembered that.  My friend's nativity display was not a decoration, but an intentional focus.

Yesterday, when looking for another activity for our visiting grandchildren, I pulled out the Fisher Price nativity set purchased last year.  Maggie and Howie immediately started playing with it.  "Jofus!" two year old Howie squealed as he recognized the Joseph figure.  And of course, baby Jesus was placed lovingly front and center.

Our own girls totally messed up our unfinished basement one year, putting on their own Christmas pageant, complete with bathrobes, the Little Tykes plastic playhouse serving as the Inn, and a blanket-covered tricycle playing the part of the donkey carrying Mary.  They knew the story.  And they knew that the story was real.

Earlier this week, I posted a picture of a "gingerbread" log cabin, constructed of pretzel rods and corn chex.  Yesterday, the roof collapsed.  And as I was viewing it today, it occurred to me that the imploded structure looked a bit like a stable.

Next year, a gingerbread nativity is in the offing.

We have a basket of books that illustrate the Christmas story in a variety of ways.  But nothing beats the account in Luke 2, appropriate for reading, reciting and memorizing.  It is not just a story.  It is the real thing.

And as for our two and four year olds who are visiting for the week?  Along with their mom and dad, they have memorized Isaiah 9.6, word for word.  Jesus did not just happen.  Jesus was promised.  He is not just another baby, but Savior of the World.

And believe me, there is nothing sweeter than hearing a two and a half year old reciting,

For to us a child is born,
for to us a son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulders,
and his name will be called
"Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace."

                    Isaiah 9.6

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