Christmas Day: An Opportunity for Spiritual Formation

The Christmas lights are lit. The wrapped gifts are under the tree. The family is together. Expectations run high. Excitement is off the charts. It is Christmas and Santa has come! Three cheers for Santa! He has done it again. Amazing! The gifts are unwrapped and smiles abound. Photos are snapped and video is captured as children and grownups alike share memories for posterity. The scene is idyllic; warmth fills every heart. As the fire crackles in the fireplace, hot cocoa is passed around, along with sugary confections. The aroma of the Christmas turkey dinner fills the air. All is right in the home. Almost.

For there is one thing that would make it truly right. You know what it is. Perhaps you did it in your home this morning, along with some or all of these other celebratory practices. You remembered Jesus Christ. And you told the story again. It was not an afterthought, or an addon filler to make time for last minute party planning. It was the center piece. It was the whole purpose for this day, and you knew that. So, you gathered your children together, along with all the adults present. You shared the story, starting with the announcement by the Angel Gabriel to the young, frightened Mary. You traced the events as they happened, briefly perhaps, but faithfully. The initial shock of Joseph and then his determination to take Mary as his wife. Their journey to Bethlehem to abide by the census requirements. The desperate search for a room in the inn, only to the taken to a smelly stable. The appearance of the angels to the shepherds. The journey of the magi. The birth of Jesus Christ, Immanuel. The humble beginning to our salvation.

And as you told that story, it became clear to all present that Christmas isn’t simply about pretty giftwrap and twinkling lights on a beautiful tree. Nor is it simply about Santa, as fun as it is to enjoy the songs, or even to remember the origin of his legend. Ultimately, it is about Jesus. God with us. The Savior of the world. And in your telling of this story as truth, you took an opportunity to spiritually form your children, and all those present, including yourself.

Long after your children grow up and begin to recognize that Santa is pretend, not real, they will likewise have opportunity to gain deeper faith in Christ. The key will be the emphasis you put on Christ in proportion to the focus on Santa and all the make believe fun which our culture has come to associate with him. As the parent, you have the responsibility, the authority, and the power to influence the tilt of your children’s belief system concerning Advent. Sobering as this is, it should also fill your heart with joy to know that God will strengthen you to create healthy boundaries, establish foundations of truth, and still have fun in the process. Off you go. Your children want to hear more about Jesus. And yes, you can still enjoy the legend of Santa Claus in its proper place and proportion to the real meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to my kind readers. Be blessed this Advent season!

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