“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree“. – Roy L. Smith
Such powerful statements. I wondered what my next post would be about, but nothing ever came to mind. Right now I’m sitting in the office and it’s not the normal “hustle and bustle” that takes place here. Why? Some of my coworkers are on the road to meet with their families for Christmas. I had to step back and observe how I observe Christmas and what it means to me since I decided to stay here in Mississippi as opposed to going home to Tennessee.
This year was my first time participating in, or even hearing about, Advent (The Second Coming of Jesus Christ). I live in the Antioch Discipleship Community where a group of young adults live in a house to intentionally foster positive relationships, develop spiritually, and become disciples who make disciples. We meet weekly for group study with both the guys’ and girls’ houses and both groups respectively meet individually weekly. As a group, we learned about Advent and I thought that it was awesome. I really enjoy going into detail about God’s Word and drawing connections…it fascinates me. Some of my coworkers and I even led lessons for Advent to children in our After School Program. I taught the lesson on love and my goodness did those children have answers for what love was to them. (And with that being said, I’ve posted below something I found on Facebook)….
From a group of 4 to 8 year-olds….’What does love mean?’
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined
See what you think:
‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’
Rebecca- age 8
‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’
Billy – age 4
‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’
Karl – age 5
‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’
Chrissy – age 6
‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’
Terri – age 4
‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’
Danny – age 7
‘Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss’
Emily – age 8
‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents
Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)
‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate, ‘
Nikka – age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet)
‘Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.’
Noelle – age 7
‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’
Tommy – age 6
‘During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.’
Cindy – age 8
‘My mommy loves me more than anybody You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.’
Clare – age 6
‘Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford .’
Chris – age 7
‘Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’
Mary Ann – age 4
‘I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.’
Lauren – age 4
‘When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.’ (what an image)
Karen – age 7
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.’
Mark – age 6
‘You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.’
Jessica – age 8
And the final one…
A four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry’
…When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need.
Wow! Kids! My favorite one has to be the last one. Forgive me, my mind wanders and jumps from thought to thought so bear with me as I share with you, please. Love. I presented the lesson of love to the kids with a beautifully gift-wrapped big box and a small brown paper bag with a small ribbon tied around it. I asked the kids if those two gifts were under their tree on Christmas morning which gift they would be more excited to open. Well, my kids shocked me because the majority chose the brown bag…the unattractive, small bag. I think they read my lesson before I presented it (lol). One student said aloud, “That’s salvation”. I smiled at him with the assurance that he was correct and nicely asked him to not say it again. Another student said, “I would open the small bag because everything in the big box I don’t need. I may want it, but I don’t need it”. Thankfully, I was still able to complete the lesson although these kids already understood it. God’s gift to us, Jesus Christ, wasn’t nicely wrapped either, but it was and is the BEST gift EVER. Point. Blank. Period. Jesus was born to a virgin, His earthly father was a poor carpenter, and He was born in a manger. Humble and low circumstances Christ was born, and now He is the King of Kings. Talk about something turning around for good. God loved us, God loved me, so much that He gave Christ over to die so that we may have a relationship with Him. His Son! Could there ever be a greater act of love? This love is still too much for me to wrap my mind around.
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” In this holiday season, I do believe the celebration of Christ is our way of a greater outward abundance of sharing good cheer with those who have yet to come to believe in Jesus Christ and those who are just in need. However, this quote from Calvin Coolidge is true in every way. Can we not cherish peace and goodwill and be plenteous in mercy in our daily lives? I know that I am guilty of thinking more about volunteering during Thanksgiving and Christmas at a soup kitchen than any other time of the year. Sadly, I’ve spoken with a worker at a kitchen in Nashville some time ago and was told that there is always a long list of volunteers during these holidays. In fact, there are so many people that sign up to volunteer that many are denied opportunity to do so. However, during the “regular” year the kitchen can hardly find the “man power” that is needed. As Christians, we aren’t called to be seasonal. Surely, I don’t want to be called seasonal. But we don’t do things just because it’s the “Christian” thing to do. We share of ourselves, our time, our hearts, our finances, our smiles, our shoulders, our tears, God’s Word and who is and has been to us because we have been transformed from the inside out.
For you Will Ferrell fans, I just chuckled because I thought of sweet baby Jesus.
There actually existed, long ago, a sweet, innocent baby by the name of Immanuel… a true gift for God’s children saying that He will be with us. “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree“. My heart is filled with joy because I know that Christ is in my heart and the true meaning of Christmas is in me because Christ lives in me. I thank God for the best Christmas gift EVER!