I just emerged from the sanctuary after telling the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth to a flock of Nursery School children, parents and their grandparents. I did the same last Monday.
Something happens as we combine Christmas and children. The spirit of the Nativity finally breaks loose. They belted out the carols and listened with rapt attention. We adults have heard the story so often, we lose track how unlikely and remarkable it is. But they are not taking anything for granted, and have no trouble summoning appropriate wonder.
I eagerly anticipate our Christmas Pageant in the Parish Hall following 10 am worship this Sunday. Children–with spirits captive to no one, except whimsy–will likely re-style and embellish the Nativity in delightful and unpredictable ways. That’s why we dare not miss it. Some improvisation might occur on this age-old story that will be remembered for years!
Also, this coming Sunday we will celebrate the baptisms of two new children, Charlotte (“Charley”) and Edward (“Teddy”) Allen, with their new member parents, Anne and Gerry. Baptizing children at Christmas recalls God’s promises extended through the baby Jesus.
This much is certain. If you want to get in the Christmas spirit, if you desire the holiness of Jesus’ birth to lay hold of you in ways that might otherwise escape you, find a way to be around children. Being closer to baby Jesus in their lifespan, their kinship seems natural. And their identification with the tale and its trimmings brings passion we have misplaced.
Our little ones did that for us last Sunday as I told in my Children’s Sermon of Kakchiquel Indian children in Guatemala with no decent homes, living in shacks and hovels. I showed video of the birthday party we gave the kids at the end of our week. And then I showed footage of their cinder block homes in progress. “Where are you?” our children asked me.
The beaming smiles of those Indian children were contagious not only among our own children, but among all of us. How do I know that? Spontaneously, those in attendance gave another $2,000 to build homes for children in the Dominican Republic next month.
That means we have collected $16,000 so far, enough to build two entire homes through Habitat for Humanity. What do you say to three homes, or four? We can do it—easily. All we have to see is the face of poor baby Jesus in the faces of these charming children.
Habitat envelopes remain in the pews for those of you who missed last Sunday. And let me mention something I forgot to say last Sunday. According to the Habitat for Humanity formula, all families eventually pay for their homes. They can afford to pay for them over time, as Habitat charges no interest to the families. Habitat is a hand up, not a handout.
Even better, as the families pay for their homes, their payments go into a revolving Fund for Humanity that continues to build more and more homes. So all of the homes FCC donates continue to build more and more homes in perpetuity, as long as Habitat exists.
Finally, we pray for the families of the children who were lost at Sandy Hook last year. We will ring our church bells 28 times on Saturday to remember them and the brave teachers.