It’s time to celebrate

Why are children so excited about Christmas?

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It’s almost Christmastime! In case you haven’t realized it, our kids are incredibly excited about this fact. This season is wrapped in things children look forward to all year: visits with family and friends, delicious food, and (of course) presents. In the church, children have opportunities to sing carols and decorate cookies, serve meals and read stories. It is a wonderful time to celebrate together as the body of Christ.

Working with young students, I find that children have a deeper spiritual connection with Christmas than other holy days. I don’t believe it is because of the “toot bags” or the candlelight in our Christmas Eve services. It’s probably not even because we find meaningful ways to give our time and money as a Sunday school class. Children love Christmas because this is the time we get to see Jesus grow.

Throughout the liturgical year, pastors and teachers spend time talking about the ministry of Jesus. Much of the recorded history about Jesus occurs in his adult years—from his baptism to his resurrection—and very little is known about his childhood. Which is why the story of his birth brings such delight to our children who realize, “Jesus was a kid like me!”

Many children have wondered out loud what life looked like for Jesus as he was growing up: Did he have friends to play with? Did he have required chores at home? Did he fight with his siblings? As an adult, I was brought to a place of wonder when a first grader helped me realize that at one time our Savior had dirty diapers that needed to be changed.

Last year at North Fresno Church our students took the opportunity to lead our congregation in a vibrant celebration of Christ’s birth. Our youth band played, and our younger students sang carols and read Scripture. There was a silly skit with angels anticipating the arrival of Jesus, all of them running around to make sure everyone was ready for the big announcement.

When the time came, our halo-clad actress ran forward and raised her hands as she loudly declared to the pews filled with grandparents and neighbors: “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the City of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:11-12).

Our sanctuary filled with applause and shouts of rejoicing. The third and fourth grade shepherds raised their staffs, and the preschool barn animals mooed and baaed. We praised God for this fragile newborn baby; a King who needed to be cleaned and fed, a Savior who had to be carried.

This season, may you and your congregation remember the hope that Jesus brings through his life as a child: A baby birthed into this world, raised in a community, who physically grew up. Just like all of us.

Caitlin Friesen
Caitlin Friesen is a native of Fresno, California and a graduate of Fresno Pacific University. She has a passion for Jesus and a heart for children, both of which has been put to use as a backpacking guide, camp counselor and most recently as associate pastor of children and family ministries at North Fresno Church. In September 2017, she and her husband, Ben, moved to Topeka, Kansas, where Ben will serve as lead pastor at Cornerstone Community Church.

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