I urge you........Teach the Tree!
("Wow, Sheri has finally lost it! Teach the Tree?! Just how confused IS she?")
Not confused at all; just incredibly aware that we must be intentional in our teaching. Christmas is one of the most natural and powerful teaching moments we encounter all year long.
Please, don't waste it!
I picked up a magazine this past week that's written for parents. It offers all sorts of wonderful, creative ideas for helping the average family have fun. Useful, especially for parents with small children and smaller budgets.
As I flipped through the pages of this well-written circular, I became somewhat alarmed. The December issue had not one single solitary reference which identified Christmas as a religious holiday.
Thinking that surely I had missed it, I slowly turned each page for a second time. Surely I would find an article, a listing, an advertisement.......something to address the truth that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ.
But there was nothing!
I stopped and read one advertisement that used the phrase, "Joy to the World." But the ad only showed children eating cookies. An empty call for joy to the whole world!
There wasn't even so much as an innuendo about angels being the ones who first proclaimed "Joy to the World" from the skies over Bethlehem.
Angels came to sing about a baby born to save the world - not about a cookie!
I sat in stunned silence for several moments pondering the implications of my discovery. Christmas is so much more than Santa, Frosty and Rudolph. (Although I enjoy a rousing rendition of "Frosty the Snowman" just as much as the next guy!)
Those in charge of the spiritual education of children can definitely use help with creative ideas for most matters. But we don't need help explaining Christmas.
The most wonderful time of the year practically teaches itself, if we take the time to express what we see. We are their first teachers. Our words and the things we highlight will take on importance for them.
No need to be preachy. This classroom requires no desks. And there's no final exam.
"Look at that wreath, sweetheart. It's just like God - no beginning and no ending." (This simple statement is made while helping the child re-create the circle, round and round.) "The Bible says, '..in the beginning God was. And of His kingdom there will never be an end.'"
"Do you see the red berries on this holly tree? Their color reminds us that Jesus shed His blood for us, doesn't it?"
Placing the manger and Christ child into the pudgy hands of your toddler........ "Isn't it wonderful that Jesus came to earth as a baby? He wanted to experience everything about growing up here on earth that you experience. That way, He can help you when you need help."
"Oh, do you see the beautiful flower on this Christmas cactus? It blooms out of this old cactus plant to remind us that beauty can come out of ugly things; just like real life. Isn't it neat that God designed them to bloom right at Christmas time?"
It doesn't matter if they're too young to fully understand; trust me, they're hearing you and processing. Eventually, the repetition will become so natural to them that they won't have any trouble embracing your words as truth when the light of understanding does dawn!
One of our favorite teaching tools is our Christmas tree:
Covered in lights - Jesus is the Light of the World
Evergreen boughs - Jesus brings life everlasting
Tree itself - Trees stand tall to point our attention toward Heaven
- A tree was used to create the cross Jesus died on
Star ornaments - A star led the wise men to Baby Jesus
Red beaded garland - Jesus came to shed His blood for our sins
Apple/fruit ornaments - We want the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives
Instruments - He plays a symphony with our lives if we make Him director
Bells - Ring loudly to announce God's Love on Christmas Day
The Angel - Proclaimed the good news of Jesus' birth!
Keep it natural; light; fun.
One of my life-time friends (Martha) taught me the importance of this lesson. I watched her make Kristin laugh by patting her baby hand in her own to tap out "Jesus Loves Me."
Please don't miss the opportunity to train your impressionable little ones while the annual object lesson from Heaven is going on all around you.
- Google the words to two of your favorite carols and race to see who can memorize them first. (Christmas carols are chock full of scripture truth!)
- Do you know the story behind "The Twelve Days of Christmas"? Let your pre-teen read it aloud for the family then everyone sing together.
- Act out the song "Drummer Boy" with two spoons and a coffee can.
- Purchase a nativity scene the children can touch; play with them.
- Before the frenzy of sharing gifts, remind everyone that three astronomers (wise men) started that tradition by bringing gifts to a Baby King.
- Re-inact the account in Luke 2 as a family. (They'll love dad being the donkey!)
- Play charades using titles of Christmas carols
- Sit down together and watch "It's a Wonderful Life!"
- Find recipes that illustrate scriptural truth.
- Create an Advent Wreath for your own home.
Oh dear friend, I challenge you over the next few days - Teach the Tree!
(I'd love to hear about the object lessons your family has incorporated over the years. Post it below so we can all benefit from your idea. Thanks!)