“Does our family believe in Santa?”
That was the question posed by my friend’s six-year-old son when he came home from school one day. My friend knew it wasn’t wrong for her child to enjoy Christmas traditions, but she also knew that Christmas promises a much deeper, lasting joy. She wondered how she could help her child start asking bigger questions like, “What does our family believe about Jesus?” “Why is His birthday a holiday?” “Why did He die?” “What does it mean that He lives with us today?”
When I was a girl, we did not talk about God or Jesus in our home. We did go to church. We did have a Bible. And we certainly celebrated Christmas! I can clearly remember the Christmas I was ten—I was so excited. For some reason, the nativity scene we set up each year suddenly intrigued me. I opened the Bible and found Luke 2, and the story of Jesus’ birth took hold of me. Like many curious kids, without even realizing it, I memorized those verses.
Years later, Jesus gave me the gift of faith. I believed and received His life into my heart. I then realized that as a child I had known the Christmas story without knowing Jesus. I missed the most vital questions—who is Jesus and why did Jesus come? Many children and families need help to ask those questions. The good news is, children are ready and waiting for the answers.
God gives parents an awe-inspiring assignment—to build a home where the entire family learns about (and, we pray, comes to love) Jesus. What happens when we realize that our deepest love and greatest effort cannot transform our child’s heart? We rest in God’s all-sufficient power to do what only He can do. And we fill our kid’s lives with the transforming truth of God’s Word. Seize the moment! Your family is ready and waiting.
What Is Advent?
Advent means arrival—the coming of Jesus Christ. Advent marks the time when God the Son—who has always been—came into the world as a human being. Today, as God’s people, we eagerly await His second coming. While we wait, how are you preparing your child’s heart? What if your child knows the Christmas story without knowing Jesus? How will you help with the answers to your child’s biggest questions: “Who is Jesus?” “Why did Jesus come?” and “What gifts does Jesus give us today?”
Advent is a time to press “pause” on our busy life—to really think about and treasure Jesus. It’s a time to remember Jesus’ birth—the arrival of God the Son as a human being into our world. And with hope-filled joy to look forward to His return—His second arrival to rule and reign.
If you are not familiar with Advent you may question this 1500-year-old tradition. But Advent helps us prepare our hearts to fully rejoice in Jesus’ coming to our world. Advent officially begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Why so long? One day (December 25) is way too little a time to take in the gift of our salvation. Each day of Advent adds another piece to the puzzle of Old Testament prophecy pointing to Jesus. Day by day, the gospel account widens our view of the birth of Jesus. By the time Christmas arrives our eyes and hearts are open to see that Jesus truly is our greatest treasure.
How Does Practicing Advent Help Us Understand the Gospel?
As a child, my family Christmas was all about Santa, so when my husband and I trusted Christ we wanted our family to enjoy the truly Christian traditions I had missed out on. But there was a problem . . . we started Advent with more traditions than we had time or energy for. In our “crazy busy” lives, we struggled to get it all done.
So we made changes, and for our family, Advent became a time to slow down and remember what’s important. We stepped back and asked: “How can we make our goal at Christmas cultivating a deeper love for Jesus?” Simplifying Advent begins with letting go. Looking back, the Christmas traditions that have mattered most to our family are the simplest. We worship at home and church. We celebrate Jesus with our family through reading Scripture, discussing life-giving truths, and singing our favorite Christmas hymns. We found a better, simpler Christmas—a time to celebrate Jesus, our treasure.
Jesus—God’s Amazing Gift
Many parents today ask, “How can I fit everything in?” “What can I leave out?” “What will make my life easier?” But what if we asked ourselves and our families bigger questions? Questions that will help our kids stop and think of the beauty of the gospel like, “Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus come to live with us? What gifts does Jesus give us today?”
Advent helps us choose not to let December fly by. And even though this year’s Advent season is well underway, it’s not too late to join in the celebration. On Christmas Day do you want your children to be left with a bigger, better view of our Savior?
Gather the family around. Open up the Bible. Get ready to celebrate the amazing gift of Jesus. The blessing He brings us at Christmas lasts year-round and forever. Nothing and no one is better. Every day until Christmas, you have the opportunity to immerse your family in something better than the business of the season. Advent is a time to look at the wonder of the gospel.
Author’s Note: There are many good options for Advent devotionals. I’ve written two: A Jesus Christmas and A Better Than Anything Christmas. Each offers twenty-five special days to nourish your child’s heart with the good news of the gospel. Every day you’ll look at a passage from the prophets and the Gospels. Each day’s questions will help you guide your kids, no matter what their age, to the heart of the gospel. The fun journaling space will help each family member reflect on Jesus—our greatest treasure. And each day you’ll see how the gifts Jesus gives are far better than any other gifts we receive—even at Christmas!