I love seeing the holidays through the eyes of my children. They possess wonder, excitement, hope, and joy. They have been making people and each other gifts since before Thanksgiving. They have also been circling items they hope to receive on Christmas in just about every ad and catalog we get in the mail. Christmas music can pop up at just about any time throughout the year in the Zelenka house, but it is a staple throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. To my kids, it never seems to lose its appeal. Decorating is something they look forward to and no matter how much we put up, they still want to do more.
Their joy-filled and hope-full anticipation is both palpable and contagious.
Oh, to be a child again.
In today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us that even those of us who have grown old should hold fast to being child-like, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will" (Luke 10:21).
Outside of trying to embrace the spirit of the season, how else might we be childlike in the ways that Jesus intended?
First, part of the wonder of the season for children is that they believe what those who they trust have told them. The magic of gift-giving on a single night is coupled with the wonder of the greatest gift that we've all been given: Jesus. Despite their attempts to ask clarifying questions about either, they have faith that the stories they've been told are true.
For those of us who have grown in age if not also understanding, may we still be childlike enough to believe. Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, God's only Son, yet still God Himself, came to earth and took on human flesh. He was born at a specific time, in a specific place, for a specific purpose: to bring us to fullness of life. Jesus called Himself the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and He entered our humanity so that we might become more like the humans we were created to be.
Lord, help me to believe like a child again.
Second, children allow themselves to dream. From what they hope will be waiting for them under the tree to what they want to be when they grow up, they can see the world as they hope it will be, not just as it is. For those of us whose hearts and dreams have been broken by reality, may we embrace a childlike ability to hope that the best is still yet to come. If we have breath in our lungs and a new day to live, may we realize God isn't done with us yet. We - all of us - were made for greatness, built for holiness, and destined for sainthood.
Lord, let me dream like a child again.
Third and finally, children love. We are all made in the image and likeness of a Triune God who Himself is love. Therefore, we are made to love. We are also made to be loved. For those of us who have been rejected enough to question our lovability, causing us to both withhold loving others and hold off being loved in return, may we be childlike enough to love again. Send a card to someone even though they didn't send one to you last year - just be sure to send it out of love and not spite! Offer forgiveness. Reach out to someone in need of a friend. Give, not out of abundance, but out of love.
Lord, inspire me to love like a child again.
Lord, this year, all I really want for Christmas is to be like a child again.