December 2, 2011
Christmas is Christ
Karen reminds us how important it is as a mother to teach our children what Christmas is really about:
"Tell me about the shepherds again Mommy. It is my favoritist part!" three-year-old Mitch pleaded. It was the week after Thanksgiving and we had started our nightly December ritual: reading the Christmas tale chosen from a basket perched beneath our twinkling tree.
We'd collected dozens of colorful storybooks that illustrated the account of the nativity story. Mitch's favorite part was always the shepherds. Ever since his chubby little fingers could grasp the pasteboard pages, he'd pause and stare at the portraits of rough and tumble men wandering in the wilderness, watching over their flocks by night.
My son's fascination prompted me to dig further into the lessons I could learn from the shepherds.
That first Christmas night these humble guys, often looked down on by society, were busy going about their daily tasks: feeding and watering; prodding and protecting; nursing the injured and encouraging the timid. They were also watching out for hungry predators that might harm their precious lambs.
When the shepherds heard the heavenly chorus, their lives changed forever. Yet the sudden interruption may have been a strange inconvenience at first. After all, sheep need constant supervision. Taking their eyes off them for even a moment might have been detrimental.
Little did these shepherds know they were about to encounter the Great Shepherd, secretly wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
I think women, especially those with children in our lives, can sometimes feel like modern-day shepherds. We certainly do our fair share of feeding, watering, prodding, protecting, nursing, encouraging and watching out for anything that might harm our lambs. At times our job is also dirty, and sometimes unpleasant, with very few "atta girls" or social recognition. Yet it is also significant.
Even moms raising kids who are almost ready to leave the fold still have important work to do.
Our children are never too old to be reminded of Christmas's core message: Christ came to earth to offer hope and new life for all who turn their hearts to Him. Perhaps we begin with storybook illustrations and later transition to opportunities to live the message.
As our own kids have grown, it's been a thrill to join them in reaching out at Christmas with the good news of Christ. Helping in soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Adopting a Christmastime family we serve with food or gifts. Shoveling driveways or assisting a widow with the tasks of the season.
What else could we do to live out the timeless message; the one my little lamb enjoyed hearing year after year?
In the midst of this busy month, let's stop. Put down the tinsel; discontinue the decorating. Turn down the Christmas carols and get alone to be silent.
Let's allow God to interrupt our daily routine to introduce us once again to our Good Shepherd. Let's pause, ponder, and like the shepherds, tell those in our family about this remarkable Christ-child. Then together we can help echo to others this enduring hope...