Saturday, December 8, 2012

Counting days, preparing hearts

We’re ten days into our Jesse Tree. The branches are filling with clip art reminders that the Promised One has arrived. I catch myself staring at it, marking all the promises that God made throughout history that spoke of the coming messiah, Immanuel, God walking with us again.

We counted advent when I was a kid. Opened windows in a serene, cobalt-tinted cardboard Bethlehem. Daddy opened the Bible and read to us with every open window. Then Christmas Eve we tied the whole story together with a full reading of the Christmas story.

But it stopped one year. Maybe we lost the calendar. More likely, we fussed about the drudgery of repeating a story we could ‘recite backwards.’ I stopped counting advent in favor of shopping days after that.

As a married couple, we haven’t done an advent calendar. It didn’t seem important before we had children. We already knew christmas was coming, just look at the tree and shopping list and endless programs and parties. Of course Christmas was right around the corner. Why advent?

But this year, the girls need to learn the true meaning of Christmas, need to learn to build the excitement in their hearts toward the birth of the savior.

As we teach, I learn what I had forgotten {and I must remember!}. The everyday shared family scripture has calmed and quieted my soul as I wait. Not for sales or meals or sharing Christmas with my family. Wait for the star to top the tree... He is here. Run to worship him. The advent tree has helped my heart maybe most of all.

We use rituals to teach the girls, to shape their worldview. That we should speak of the commandments of the Lord when we sit in our house and walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise Deuteronomy 6:7. To pass on a legacy of faith to our children.

But ritual is just a practice, not faith. They aren’t learning from the tree. They learn from our example of faith. This story is important enough to Daddy and Momma to share it with you everyday, hang pictures to remind us of God’s faithfulness.

So what happens when they’ve learned the lesson? When they can recite the story backwards? Do we put aside these child-like traditions as tools to train a little mind?

Training our children can’t be the reason we celebrate; then we celebrate the god of godly parenting.

We celebrate Christ’s coming.

The counting, the advent plumbs the hearts of Daddy and Momma. When the girls are glib teens, we need our hearts righted more than ever. These child-like tools keep a child-like faith in parent hearts, show near-grown children that God is as important today as He was during childhood.

What do we lose as adults by forsaking the teaching tools we provide our children?

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