I recently read a portion of a book written by Noel Piper (John Piper’s wife; he’s pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN). In it, she talks about their own personal practice of excluding Santa from their celebrations.
She explains why they did it – her reasons made sense to me. Things like presenting confusing or mixed messages to the children: it’s about Santa! + it’s about Christ! Parents often expect their kids will be able to figure out what’s real and what’s not….
Rather than comment on Noel and John Piper’s practice (which is theirs to do as they please), how about Christmas Symbols?
I began our family Advent devotions this morning after I spent some time considering the stockings hanging from our mantle….What do we do with them? What do they mean? What do I want my little ones concluding about them and why they appear there yearly? I think I owe my children a framework to understand all the symbols – they need to be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff, no?
Let’s begin where I began with them: what’s the deal with all the Christmas lights? A buddy cornered me yesterday and said, “Dude, have you seen my house?” Um, not recently. “I’m telling you, you’ve got to see what I’ve done with the decorations!” Keeping up with the Joneses? “Crushing the Joneses, dude. Seriously, take a look!”
So, fully loaded with 14 eager eyeballs, we drove by his place. We found a resplendent display of white Christmas lights! I think he might’ve even had some lights not on but the ones that were lit were beautiful. This morning, then, I asked the kids about Christmas lights – what are they for? What do they mean?
Once I got past the typical responses (which were correct but…you know me…) I asked them about symbols. “What does a stop sign represent?” I asked. My middle one said, “safety” (Ah, music to my ears…). RIGHT! It symbolizes safety when it is obeyed; even potential death when it is not. I pointed out that many, many things are symbols of other things. “And Christmas symbols mean special things.”
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life – John 8:12
“What does light represent? It is a symbol of what?” Jesus!
Have you ever noticed how we wrap lights all around the Christmas tree? Now, I’m not sure why I’ve been doing that all my life, but my wife has as well – maybe you do, too. One could conclude that it is this way so that there is never a place you could stand and fail to see light. Since light symbolizes Christ, the implication is that He can never be obscured – He can always been seen by those who look for Him.
I concluded the devotion by telling my kids that it isn’t just Christmas lights that represent Christ. It is light, period. Street lights, bathroom lights, oven lights, flood lights, stadium lights, sunlight, car head lights – any and every light is a reminder of the One who is the Light of the world.
Think about it.
Tomorrow, maybe trees and stockings.