This may seem like a strange question to ask at this time of year. Yet, it is crucial to not only how we view Christmas, but also how we relate the truth of God’s Word to younger generations throughout the year. The problem is that many of our grandchildren’s generation believe the Bible is irrelevant, or even, to quote one young person, “a dangerous book of religious dogma used for centuries to oppress people.”
So, how do we help our grandchildren understand the life-giving power of God’s Word for all of life? The truth is that God’s Word is living and effective—it is able to judge “the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). What can we do as grandparents to teach the Word and show it to be what it claims to be? Here are three suggestions:
“For unto a child is born, to us a child is given…” Isaiah 9:6
(Reprinted and revised from Dec. 2010) It’s true, Scrooge is as alive and well in the 21st century as he was in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. A brief visit to the internet will reveal an abundance of Scrooge attitudes (“Christmas is for fools!”) among bloggers and people who feel the need to express their enlightened opinions. I doubt there has been any time like today where the abundance of Christmas humbugs exist with a platform for them to express their ignorance.
As discouraging as it is to hear these attitudes expressed, I remain encouraged by glimmers of hope expressed among many of our young families today. In fact, my wife and I just returned from a Fatherhood CoMission conference where we were blessed by young fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers who are passionately intentional about teaching and training their children to know and walk in the truth. It was encouraging to hear the testimony of Jim Bob and Michelle Dugger (19 Kids and Counting)
After observing another year of Black Friday madness (now Thanksgiving Thursday madness) I find myself wondering if there is anything really left of what Christmas used to be. Was there ever a time when Christmas was about Christ, and nothing else? Where did this strange holiday really originate? Is what we call Christmas today anything like what it was intended to be?
There is a lot of confusion today about the traditions of Christmas—where they came from and what they mean. I know that as a child Christmas held a special intrigue and anticipation for me. The lights, the decorations, the Christmas songs and Christmas Eve Candlelight Service were a huge part of Christmas in our home. And admittedly, so was Santa.
But how do we sort through the confusion and the merchandise marketing of today to drill down to what Christmas is really about? Allow me to give you a quick crash course about the origins of Christmas. Perhaps something in this overview will be of help to you as you try to make Christmas for your grandchildren something more than filling Christmas wish lists and Black Friday frenzies.
Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales and Jelly Telly, has just released a new DVD called Buck Denver Asks…Why Do We Call it Christmas? Phil seeks to provide some answers for families about some of our modern traditions. For example, he clarifies the origins of our modern concept of Santa Claus and how it has changed through the years.
Originally, the Church celebrated Christmas simply as a religious observance of the virgin birth of Christ, and as surprising as it may seem, Santa was not part of it. Christmas was entirely about worship and celebrating the miraculous incarnation of God into our world to provide for our salvation. Christmas pointed to Easter. Easter, as Phil Vischer suggests, was the ‘superbowl’ of Christian celebrations—not Christmas.
Furthermore, as difficult as it may be to imagine today, the idea of gifts was never part of the earliest Christmas celebrations. That was something that came about because legends surrounding a fourth-century Greek Bishop named Nicholas (St. Nicholas in the Catholic Church).
Several of you shared comments about my previous posts on Preparing Your Teenage Grandchildren for Success. Thank you for the comments, and for reminding me that what I am sharing for teens ought to be intentional practices for younger grandchildren too. Without question, if we start early, it will be a lot easier when they are older. At the same time, for you who have teenage grandchildren and you did not do these things when they were younger, it is never too late to begin doing what we can to help our teenage grandchildren walk in the truth.
This is my last post on this subject. As we wrap up this subject matter, there are two more things I want to challenge you to intentionally practice with all your grandchildren regardless of age. These last two practices are vitally important for their success as adults. If your teenage grandchildren have never had anyone work with them in these areas, I urge you to find a way to do so. Don’t wait any longer.
Before discussing these two things, here’s a quick reminder of the first three:
1. Help build a strong work ethic by challenging them to higher expectations.
2. Expose them to things that will help them discover potential skill areas they may not realize they have.
3. Help your teen grandchildren vanquish a sense of entitlement.
Now let’s zero in on #4 and #5 intentional practices the can help your teenage (and younger) grandchildren succeed: