As a new father, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how my daughter will experience Christmas. My own family was pretty light on holiday traditions. Honestly, there were a few years the lights never went up on the house and we didn’t get around to doing a tree. One year the lights just stayed on the house for the whole year. We just sort of went with the flow. Sometimes people were just too busy to do things, and that never really bothered me.
But of course, you want your own children to experience some of the “magic of Christmas” and have all of those warm, soul-filling feelings about the season that you remember fondly.
So we fill our homes with the scents of evergreen and cinnamon and peppermint. We make gingerbread and hot chocolate. We prepare meals that make our taste buds dance. We listen to Tchaikovsky and Bing Crosby and the Chipmunks… maybe some Mariah Carrey, in moderation.
But how do you make the story of our Savior’s birth come alive for young minds? It’s not a sensory thing. It’s more than good storytelling. Why do hairs stand up on the back of my neck when I read the angels’ words, “Hosannah to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.”? It has something to do with conditioning, no doubt. I am sure there are people for whom the Christmas narrative produces none of these feelings.
Even knowing that the scriptural record of Christ’s birth is not only contradictory, but in large part, fabricated to fit the purpose of the writers of Luke and Matthew… Nothing can diminish the magic of the telling.
Is that the Holy Spirit?
Is it that small piece of the supernatural that survives intellectual deconstruction? If so, I want my little girl to feel the Holy Spirit. I want the extra-sensory to have a deeper and more significant impact, than all of the sensory trimmings of Christmas.
I guess that’s what I crave from the church. That intangible little magic. I know it was important to me, and I know for a fact, that I’m incapable of manufacturing it for my daughter. So here’s the rub:
Does losing faith that the church is all the things it claims to be, mean we lose some of the ethereal rewards of faith? If it isn’t as real to me, will it ever be real for her? Will she feel the love of a God who gifted the world his only begotten son? Will she hear in the words of the scriptures, the joyous news of coming redemption? I don’t know. That is a fear I have. I imagine some of you share it.
“Then took he [her] up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” -Luke 2:28-30