By Tony Tench
The people of Israel were given wise counsel through the giving of the law in Deuteronomy to be sure to “talk about” the words and ways and commandments of God with their children all throughout the day. When they got up in the morning, when they walked through the day and when they went to bed at night, every opportunity was a chance to be taken to talk about the Lord’s word! (Deuteronomy 6*)
That being so, as we attempt to live into this same wise counsel, Christmastime is a great opportunity to talk to our children about the message of the birth of Jesus and the good news that it brings to us. Christmastime is a wonderful chance to make traditions surrounding the “telling” of the story and to share with children and grands the power of God’s word.
This is why, at First Baptist Church, we make plans to “talk” about the birth of Jesus in special ways. The lighting of the Advent Wreath’s candles, for example, allow us the chance to describe the hope, peace, joy and love that result in the coming of Jesus and in following him along life’s journey.
The art sale our youth recently put on for us (**) was more than a fund-raiser because it gave them a chance to talk about the message of Jesus’ birth and even to remember that he was born to face all that we face in life and even to die to conquer sin and the grave.
So, with the children who are a part of your life, make a plan to “talk” about the message of Jesus the Scriptures tell.
This past weekend, Janet and I were glad to take care of our grandchildren for the evening. We had, mid-day, enjoyed lunch with them and their parents and witnessed what is their normal evening ritual moved up a few hours since Mom and Dad were going out of town.
Sometimes we think it’s ok to wait to teach kids because they are so little and can’t understand everything but the reality is they are “sponging up” everything we say and learning at every interaction with us. And, very often, their understandings are far more spiritually astute than we expect to hear!
So, at lunch, Matt and Erin read the story from an advent devotional book entitled The Names of Jesus Ornament Book. With each story an ornament pops out of the book. And Mattie, having heard the meaning of the name of Jesus, put the ornament on the tree.
Then, they turned to the Jesse Tree ornament for the day. The Jesse Tree, modeled after the Isaiah verse Dr. Canoy recently read in worship (Isaiah 11:1-10), describes how Jesus came as the root of Jesse – He came from a long line of God’s interaction with his people. Matt read the Bible story for the day — about Noah and the ark — and highlighted the way that story can be seen in Jesus’ life and then Mattie placed that ornament on the tree.
Later on in the day, after Mom and Dad had headed out on their journey, and just in the midst of play with her grandparents, Mattie walked over to the Jesse Tree and held the Noah ornament and looked at it and said, “I really like my Noah ornament. I love how God promised not to destroy the earth again with a flood.”
“I love how God promised”Mattie girl
At four years of age, she is soaking up the good news and processing it honestly and thoughtfully. She has witnessed her parents’ faith in God’s word to them and she has caught on to the good news that is offered to her. When she uses those words, “I love how God promised,” my heart is thrilled by her look to the very heart of the Lord’s interaction with us. She is learning daily that God’s love for us is real and makes a difference in every part of our lives.
So, as God has promised his grace for our lives, let’s look for every opportunity to “talk” about it — teaching our children this grace and living it before them at Christmastime and always…..because they are learning from us at every step.
(*These verses from Deuteronomy were so important to the people of Israel that they literally wrote them down and kept them on the doorposts of their houses as a reminder to talk about God’s commandments going out and coming in!
**Thanks to our FBC Youth’s art sale for missions nearly $500 was raised for our Christmas Offering for Missions.)