CHRIST­MAS IS FOR KIDS

Activated - - NEWS - By Gabriel Gar­cía V.

At the heart of Christ­mas is the Child of Beth­le­hem, who was born into this of­ten cold, hos­tile world to warm us with His heav­enly Fa­ther’s love. It was a child who be­gan the first Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion, and it is chil­dren who keep it alive in their own spe­cial ways.

Adults know this. Christ­mas brings out our child­ish in­no­cence, we be­come ten­der, and our hearts beat with ex­cite­ment as when we were kids—with the car­ols, the lights, the gifts, the sym­bol­ism and fes­tive ges­tures. We as­so­ciate Christ­mas with chil­dren, and each year we like to re­mem­ber their sim­ple joy.

One De­cem­ber evening in the midst of the Christ­mas rush, my wife and I were re­turn­ing home after a long, tir­ing day. I felt dis­grun­tled, not just by the jostling bus ride, but by nos­tal­gia for warmer Christ­mases, less com­mer­cial, more mu­si­cal.

I was mus­ing on th­ese and other thoughts when a fam­ily with small chil­dren got on the bus. The kids were spunky, a good thing on a dull night, but the best was about to be­gin. Sud­denly I heard a pa rum pum pum pum! At first I thought it was just the nat­u­ral se­quence of my in­ner thoughts, but no—it was the chil­dren who had just got­ten on the bus. A live pre­sen­ta­tion of the “Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy!” With no prompt­ing from their par­ents, the two were singing with full force: Come, they told me Pa rum, pum, pum, pum A new­born King to see Pa rum, pum, pum, pum

Our finest gifts we bring Pa rum, pum, pum, pum To lay be­fore the King Pa rum, pum, pum, pum Rum, pum, pum, pum Rum, pum, pum, pum.

1 A few days later, we were in a coastal town we visit each year to bring good cheer, toys, and the mes­sage of Christ at Christ­mas. After an in­tense day of ac­tiv­ity, we were at the home of a dear friend who al­ways re­ceives us en­thu­si­as­ti­cally with open arms and tea on the ta­ble. On this night, though, the tired­ness of the day was ev­i­dent all around. We had used up all our phys­i­cal re­sources, and our hosts were also tired from a long work­day. How were we go­ing to spread Christ­mas cheer among th­ese weary hearts? Some­one be­gan strum­ming a carol on the guitar, and

we sang along. We were be­gin­ning to wake up a bit, but still not enough to get into full swing.

Who brought us out of our slump? A lit­tle child. We had ex­plained to Franco—a four-year-old res­i­dent of the house—that the best of Christ­mas was not the open present, but the open heart. So when we be­gan to sing the song, “Je­sus Come into My Heart,” Franco’s voice rang clearly over all the rest. He enun­ci­ated each word pur­posely as he sang, fully con­cen­trated on the mean­ing of this pow­er­ful mes­sage: Je­sus come into my heart, Fill me with Your love and light. Chil­dren ev­ery­where pray this lit­tle

prayer, Ask Je­sus in tonight.

2 Sud­denly, all of us were fully awake to wit­ness a true Christ­mas mir­a­cle—Christ born in the heart of a be­liev­ing child.

The fi­nal episode oc­curred on the last day of our visit when around twenty chil­dren were gath­ered for games and prizes. After they had raced row­dily and hap­pily up and down the lane in com­pe­ti­tions and re­lays, it was time to tell the story of the first Christ­mas—but would they set­tle down? To our sur­prise, they sat on the ground in a semi­cir­cle in front of us, tak­ing the song sheets in their now-sweaty hands, and with con­cen­tra­tion and rev­er­en­tial solem­nity, they searched for the right car­ols and be­gan to sing along. Their par­ents and all of us were in awe at this sim­ple child­like dis­play of wor­ship. For a mo­ment, it was as if we had a mirac­u­lous glimpse into the sta­ble on the first Christ­mas night:

Away in a manger, no crib for a

bed, The lit­tle Lord Je­sus lay down His

sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked

down where He lay, The lit­tle Lord Je­sus asleep on the

hay.

Be near me, Lord Je­sus, I ask You

to stay Close by me for­ever, and love me,

I pray. Bless all the dear chil­dren in Your

ten­der care, And fit us for heaven to live with You there.

3 Christ man­i­fests His pres­ence in each child who cel­e­brates His birth. May He also touch your life and home this Christ­mas.

Gabriel Gar­cía V. is the edi­tor of the Span­ish edi­tion of Ac­ti­vated and a mem­ber of the Fam­ily In­ter­na­tional in Chile.

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