By Ada Brownell
A disabled man who grew up in a Chicago orphanage during the violent prohibition era of the '20s and '30s gave his testimony at our church in Arvada, Colo. He told how the famous bootlegger and gangster, Al Capone, visited the orphanage every Christmas, bearing gifts.
Historians say despite his unlawful activities, Capone became a somewhat respected public figure because of donations to charities. I'm sure most orphans adored the man. Yet, at least one child discovered someone greater. He heard about a Heavenly Father who loved him, and God's gift to this boy was His Son coming to earth—for Jesus brought the gift of eternal life to anyone who would accept it.
The world still needs to hear the wonder of God becoming man that we might have life.
Death is why God came down. Sin caused death. Adam and Eve believed Satan when he said, "You won't die!" So they disobeyed, ate the forbidden fruit, and soon after had to bury a son.
The Father promised a Redeemer in the early pages of the Bible, Genesis 3:15, to restore immortality. Jesus, God's Son, was that Redeemer and He suffered on the cross to take away sin.
So, Christmas is about the cross as much as it is about the manger.
How can we share the true message of Christmas with our children and grandchildren?
- Memorize and talk about John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believed in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
· Don't talk about Santa as if he compares with the all-knowing, all-powerful God who is everywhere. No one is equal to God.
· Teach about the wonder of "God with us." Jesus has many names, counselor, almighty God, the alpha and omega, the lily of the valley, but "Immanuel," which means God with us, is most significant. Isaiah prophesied that it would be His name 700 years before the Messiah was born (Isaiah 7:14. Even now, God's presence is with us and if we open our heart to him He is in us "He dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (John 14:17).
· Teach about angels. We should never worship them, but according to Psalm 91, God gives angels charge over us to protect us. They also sometimes deliver messages, as Gabriel did to Mary, when he told her she would be the mother of Jesus.
· Teach about giving and gifts. It is more blessed to give then to receive (Acts 20:35).
· Talk about the stable and how Mary and Joseph were content in the humble place.
· Discuss the inn and the innkeeper. What would we have done if we owned the inn? One of the most dramatic Christmas plays I've seen was a children's Christmas musical, The First Leon. Ever since Leon discovered that his name spelled backwards is Noel, he's felt called to tell the world the true meaning of Christmas. But when he tries out for every role in the annual pageant, he finds that he's the only one who doesn't get a part. Rejected. Now Leon understands how Mary and Joseph must have felt when they heard the words, "No room" that night in Bethlehem. If I remember correctly, Leon breaks into the performance and the boy says even if others have no room, he has a place in his heart for Jesus and He wants Him to live there.
The night I attended the play, many gave their lives to the Lord—even adults.
That's good. Christ always needs to be in Christmas and celebrations in honor of His birthday.
©Copyright Dec. 13, 2013