I am glad that my two youngest grandkids are learning the Christmas story. I don't mean Santa Claus, and I don't even mean gift-giving. They are learning the true story of Christmas, and they are fascinated with the story of Baby Jesus.
Last year we gave a children's nativity set to Austin (who is now 3 1/2) and to Leah (who will be 3 in January). Both of them immediately became fascinated with the manger scene and the characters in the story. In fact, last year when he first explored his nativity set, little Austin – without any prompting at all – picked up Baby Jesus and kissed him! Where did that come from? Did he sense our own family devotion to Jesus? Is there some innate knowledge within a little child about the meaning of Christmas? I don't know, but it melted my heart.
This year both kids are older and even more fascinated with the Christmas story. Last night I had the pleasure of sitting with Leah (and other family members) during the live nativity program at St. Luke's UMC in Indianapolis. Their indoor program is mostly done by children, and it is complete with a donkey, sheep, a goat, and two camels – yes, right inside their beautiful sanctuary. Well, Leah was fascinated with it all in from our excellent view in the balcony, and during the program she cried out, "There's baby Jesus!"
Leah also wanted to pet the camels after the program. I suppose because she has seen photos of both my wife Marsha and me riding a camel during one of our Holy Land trips, Leah even asked the man handling the camel, "Can I ride him?" The man looked a bit taken-aback, but he quickly responded, "This is not a riding camel." Leah accepted that answer (thank goodness), but her fascination with the camels and the characters in the nativity was obvious.
Besides bragging about my grandkids, I share these stories for a reason: we need to make sure our kids, grandkids, and our neighbor kids know the story of Christmas. I am not opposed to the gift-giving and the charities of this Christmas season, and I try not to be a "bah-humbug" kind of person. But come on ... whose birthday is it? What is this all about?
Let's tell each other the story, for it is the story of God's love and our redemption. Let's kiss Baby Jesus and even pet the camels. Let's honor Mary and Joseph for their faithfulness, and let's learn from them. Let's sing with the angels, and let's wonder at the wonder of it all. Let's live in the true Light, for we have been in the darkness long enough.