The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)
Is there anything more amazing than coming to know Christ as your personal Savior? The answer is a resounding “no.” Nothing in all the world compares to the moment we step from darkness—darkness we may not even recognize—into sheer, all-consuming light. Every single detail about our lives changes in that moment. Every decision we make is no longer filtered through the world’s lens, but that of the Gospel. And as we walk in this magnificent light, we long for others to see Him radiating through us. Of course, as parents, we pray, we teach, and we show our children the way and long for the day they may walk in it with us. Now, during this season of Advent, we have the perfect opportunity to say no to chaos and yes to the peace Jesus longs for us to experience in Him.
Last night, after we decorated our new artificial cashmere tree in all its easy set-up grandeur, my family and I settled down in the room where the only decor gracing the table was our Advent wreath and wooden calendar. The wreath is not green—it’s actually a crown, and when I saw it, I knew it was the right one for our family. Not only do we get to talk about the first coming of Immanuel, but we get to talk about crowning Him with many crowns. The pictures of birth to eternity surrounding this centerpiece are astounding—especially in view of sharing what that means with my children.
Like the wreath, our Advent calendar is a treasure all its own. I was so tired of finding only secular calendars, so when my mom told me she found a hand-carved one depicting beautiful scenes of that first Christmas, I was ecstatic. This is what I want my children to see. While elves are cute, they are not the legacy I am looking to leave. And, while I was not physically present for that first Christmas, when I look at our calendar, light the candles, and read through Scripture, I can picture myself there, amidst the darkness of night, with a baby wrapped not in fine linens, but in bloody cloths, fresh from the womb, crying out for comfort. I can imagine what Mary and Joseph must have been feeling—elated they were all safe, yet terrified at what this meant for their lives and this newborn King. These moments when I am so overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit are moments I want to share with my children, so that they too will more vividly see who Jesus is, and so that Scripture will come more fully alive in their minds and hearts. Here are a few reasons I believe Advent is a time to treasure and embrace.
- I want our children to want the only gift that matters! Most people are consumed with getting and giving, but they are not consumed with getting and giving the gift of Jesus. Where there should be peace, there is often chaos. Where there should be a nativity in churches, there is only Santa (sadly, I’ve witnessed this). As parents, we must spiritually battle for our focus to remain rooted on embracing the Prince of Peace in the midst of all the “shop now and save” signs greeting us at every turn. Since the world is sending our kids strong messages about filling their hearts with objects, we need to consistently and even more strongly send them the message that we are not celebrating Christmas to get objects. We are celebrating Christmas because the greatest gift was already given, and nothing comes close to being captivated by Immanuel, God with us!
- I want my relationship with God to go deeper. Walking through this season reflecting on the darkness that existed before the Light of the world became flesh reminds us of how much He changed us. When the room is still and night surrounds us, the match being lit for the candle(s) shatters everything. Lighting a candle is such a simple act, and it requires no special skills, but when the flame comes forth, we see things we did not moments before. I love that it is a reminder of when we first truly saw Jesus, and the unknown was made clear.
- I want to pass on traditions to my children. When my kids grow and leave the nest, I do not want them to look back at Christmas and remember a mom most consumed with consumerism. I want them to remember a mom most consumed with helping them know there is a God who loves them immensely, and that their mom did everything to make Him more tangible to them. I want our traditions to have a purpose.
Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
From the time babies are born into this world, they are learning who they are and how they fit into the grander picture. What they can specifically learn during this time is that God loves children so much, He came to earth as a baby and grew up just like them. He had parents, too, and Jesus, like all children, likely cried out when He needed something. Now, we cry out just like a newborn because we are in need of Him. We never stop being in need of Him. So during this season and always, let’s show our children how we are preparing room in our hearts to meet Him. Let’s show them that, instead of digesting all the ads trying to sell a “life-changing product,” our families digest all of Scripture to be changed by the Giver of life!
In passionate pursuit,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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