Tools to Help Build Your Child's FaithJan 23, 2024
Last week the little town I live in put on a Christmas Extravaganza! The Middle School and High School Student Councils (which I am one of the advisors of) and the town businesses came together to create a night to remember! We enjoyed a light parade, light decorating contest, lighting of the tree, carolers, dancers, hot cocoa, and, of course, Santa! We all felt like we were living our own Hallmark movie!
Every elementary student wrote a letter to Santa. They either hand-delivered it to the big man himself downtown or had it picked up by one of his elves (my student council kids) and “mailed” them to the North Pole (my office).
I have had the privilege of reading all of the dear letters to Santa, filled with hope and wonder. Many letters have made me smile and chuckle at their lists and plans for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve. Others have left me a little sad as their wish list includes things that can’t be wrapped and put under a tree.
The common thread found in all of the letters, however, was hope. It wasn’t filled with the wishful kind of hope, but the powerful EXPECTATION kind of hope. (You can read about the difference between those two kinds of hope here.) Children don’t have to be taught how to have faith and hope. They are born with the innate ability to trust and believe. It has been refreshing and uplifting to tap into their hope surrounding Christmas.
One of my favorite verses as a child was Luke 18:16-17. Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Jesus was talking about the innate trust and belief that children have. I love how He took time from the adults who had gathered around Him and focused His attention on the precious little ones who were beaming with hope and faith in who He was. Jesus acknowledged their faith and taught their parents and others surrounding Him to observe and copy the kind of hope and faith that these little children exemplified.
As parents, it is crucial to take the lead of Jesus and strengthen the faith that children have in us as parents and, ultimately, in God. I remember when my oldest child, who is now almost 22, questioned me about Santa Claus. He was only 5 but was very thoughtful and wanted to know the truth. So, I told him the truth - that the Spirit of Santa and Christmas is genuine, but it is because of the real reason for Christmas - Jesus. Then we told him to, of course, play along with his younger siblings so that they could enjoy getting ready for Santa.
Now, some may think that I should have “lied” to my son so that he would believe in Santa a little longer. However, what I didn’t want from that conversation with my son was to give him a reason to ever dis-trust his father or me. He asked an honest and serious question about where to put his faith (he was a deep thinker). It deserved a sincere and serious answer about where he should place it. Now, not every child would need that response, but it was the correct and needful answer for him.
If you are a parent or grandparent, it is fun to build up the excitement for Santa to come on Christmas Eve. However, are you building the same excitement and hope (earnest, intense, expectation) in Jesus - the reason for the season?