Christmas is for Children
24 December 2016, Christmas Eve - Alyeska
“Christmas is for Kids”
Isaiah 54: 13
Deuteronomy 4: 9
Matthew 18: 3
Matthew 19: 14
Mark 10: 15
Luke 18: 17
Isaiah 9: 6
Luke 2: 10-11
A long time ago, just like our children here tonight, I was in a Christmas Pageant. It is one of my earliest memories and, although I cannot remember the whole event, I can remember the costume I wore that night and continued to wear in the days after the event. My mother had made the costume, as many mothers do, and the wings had been fashioned with wire coat hangers and a type of fabric mesh. Elastic bands held the wings over my shoulders and I wore them with pride as I danced around the house. I was decked out in green from head to toe and I crouched and hopped playing my part perfectly. Yes, I was a grasshopper in the Christmas Pageant. Afterall, what would the nativity be without the all important grasshopper.
That is the nature of the Christmas Pageant though. There is room for all to be involved and, as parents, we thrill in the delight of seeing our children play a part. When there are many children, sometimes parts have to be added, and the animals around the manger include ladybugs, bumble bees, and energetic grasshoppers.
As adults, we cherish the innocence and vitality with which the children play their parts. We enjoy watching the older shepherds wrangle the younger animals. We laugh at the tilting crown on the wise man’s head. We applaud the angels and their crooked halos and bent wings. We are moved by the care that Joseph and Mary watch over the baby in their midst. We always keep our eyes on the baby’s mama wondering if she is going to be okay with her baby amidst the tinderbox of contained chaos.
Through all of this something is happening, though. A truth is being revealed. A story is being shared. “For unto us this night, in the city of David, a Child is born. He is Christ the Lord!”
For little Jaxson, who played Jesus, this is the first time he has been a part of this story. But for others, it could be the fiftieth time they have seen the story play out. Each time, no matter whether it is the first or the fiftieth time, we have the opportunity to look upon the birth of Jesus with the wonder and anticipation of a child. We know that something transformative is taking place and that love is being demonstrated. Our inclination is to dig deeper and to find out why this is happening and how to get this feeling to persist. The question of who God is and why Jesus was born rings as loud as Christmas bells in our head. But, it is hard to shake the feeling of love that permeates the air tonight.
We are in the season of darkness. The longest night of the year was this week, but with the birth of Jesus a great light has been brought back into the world. That is truly no mistake. For in our lives the darkness was our separation from God and the consequences of our sin. But, God in infinite power and wisdom, found a way to enter our hearts and free us from the darkness. This God of might and without limitations, through great humbleness, became human in the frailest and most vulnerable of states, an infant. It was an act of love that is inconceivable, perhaps unbelievable, to us. Yet, it is the truth of this celebration and it is the joy of this night. We are no longer lost to darkness and we have love, hope, joy and the promise of peace because an extraordinarily, ordinary boy was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Maybe we want our children to be part of this Pageant because in the center of the chaos of costumes, pictures, and forgotten words to a simple song, there is a manger. In this manger there is a baby that represents the greatest Christmas gift we have ever been given. Through this baby our lives would be restored in the grace of our creator. This baby would grow into a man that would tell his disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) On this night, with the Spirit of Christmas, let us all look upon the manger with eyes like a child and receive our gift of life in the Kingdom of Heaven.