My family was leaving a Chinese restaurant after lunch on Christmas Eve in 2006. A little boy about 9 years old asked his Mom if he was Jewish? She said “No!” and the boy shouted back “RATS!”
He then asked “What I am?” Mom’s reply was too soft to hear. It was a teachable moment as we backed our car out of the parking lot. I asked our daughter the same question — “Who are you?”
I knew even before she answered she would say “Child of God,” because over the years we have sought to share our Christian faith and heritage with her, so that she may know she is fearfully and wonderfully created by God. The map to who we are, where we are and come from, must be communicated to our children, our neighbors, and our coworkers, those in our spheres of relationships as well as others who are not.
The Christmas season the world offers is a Retail Christmas. Though exchanging gifts brings great joy, without Christ at the center it will not lead us anywhere closer to the true essence of Christ and His message, but become a distraction at the very time of the year we set a day aside to celebrate Immanuel — God with us. Bumbling along in a haphazard existence will give our children a life with no identity, no sense of who they are, and open them up to other’s values and beliefs, man’s way and not God’s way. They will not have a map of life.
In Barbara Tompkins Mom’s Class last year we made Jesse Tree‘s ornaments. Our family systematically read through the story of Christ and hung ornaments on a small pink feather tree as our Christmas decorations were all packed and ready for our move the Texas the next week. It was a comical tree with a serious message in those Jesse Tree ornaments, the story of God found in the Bible, a message of
God’s love and provision of redemption found in Jesus Christ.
We are all unpacked this Christmas, and instead of the pink feathered tree, we are back to our home-grown artificial tree as we again tell the story of who we are in Christ by telling the story of God and his redemptive plan of salvation. Each ornament symbolizes an accompanying Bible story that, with the help of the book The Advent Jesse Tree, Devotions for Children and Adults Preparing for the Coming of Christ Child at Christmas (Nashville: Abington Press) directs us to a daily story from the Bible and provides songs of praise to sing as a family.
As Christmas arrives our anticipation is toward the greatest gift God has given the world — the birth of Jesus the Christ, God’s own Son, Immanuel — God with us. The Scriptures read throughout the month show us The Way, providing a clear and concise map of who we are, the identity we have in our Lord Jesus, the hope of glory.
Resting in Him,