Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child?
Christmas music has been close at hand in our house these days. I’ve given my children no shortage of memories of their mother belting out Christmas songs in the kitchen. The other day, I listened to a modern Christmas song wax on about the beauty of seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child. This turn of phrase pops up often around the season in tinsel-coated songs, emotion-filled commercials, and cheesy Hallmark movies.
I get the sentiment. The busyness and cynicism of adult life can, in fact, steal the opportunity to revel in childlike wonder. Yet Christmas isn’t merely about vague ideas like belief and wonder. We wonder in someone concrete—the incarnate Son of God. We believe in something tangible—the baby who came to take away our sins. Because of this, it’s not children who see the most out of Christmas. For the Christian, the passage of years will only make Christmas sweeter.
Of course, this sweetness of Christmas isn’t necessarily in the outward circumstances. Often, the opposite is true. Every turn around the sun brings the opportunity for another holiday filled with more grief. Family members are missing from the table. Grandmothers who used to host a gathering eventually feel forced to pass the reigns to someone else. Our own bodies feel the wear of less energy and strength every Christmas season. For Christians living in a sin-torn world, each year brings a host of new problems like sickness, conflict, and loss.
Though outwardly we waste away year by year, this isn’t the whole story. While our bodies fail and the curse of sin swirls around us, inwardly God renews his children (2 Cor. 4:16). Time inches on and the Holy Spirit grows our understanding, draws us closer to him, and sanctifies us bit by bit (2 Cor. 3:18). Consequently, the birth of the Christ child becomes sweeter each year, and often this is precisely through those very difficulties in our lives.
Those aches and pains in our diminishing bodies force us to look anew at the Savior in the manger who took on the same limitations when he took on flesh. The loss of family members stirs us to remember that the baby’s cries in the manger ushered in the renewal and resurrection those loved ones will one day experience.
The weeks and months of loneliness, grief, and isolation make the proclamation of Emmanuel, God with us, a greater comfort to our aching hearts. Another year of news stories filled with wars and terrorist attacks props up the treasure of the simple name: Prince of Peace. Every betrayal, injustice, and hurt we’ve seen and experienced gives weight to the righteous branch of Jesse whose birth we sing about Sunday morning. The exhaustion of a life spent in sin and grief provides new understanding as we read about Anna and Simeon finally placing their eyes upon the promised Messiah.
Along with the circumstances around us, our own inner growth causes the birth of Christ to take on greater meaning. The more we learn of God’s holiness, the more we marvel at the Almighty who condescended to be born with his people. As the Holy Spirit helps us to more deeply understand our own sin, we stand in greater gratitude of the Lamb of God, born to take away our sins.
Christmas isn’t only for children. In fact, the good news only grows with age. The people who’ve walked in 10, 30, or 50 years of darkness get to see the bright and burning light of Christ with greater intensity.
He has come. We cry it out louder with every Advent that passes, and we wait expectantly for the day we’ll get to proclaim it anew.