I was sitting with my grandfather, one Christmas, playing checkers. “Joy to the World” played on the stereo.
“It wasn’t always filled with joy, when I was a kid.” he began, as he moved one checker forward. “Each Christmas Eve, we would set out our plate, anticipating gifts on them by morning.”
My grandfather grew up in a poor family on the Prairies; both physically and spiritually poor. They were never taken to church, not even on Christmas Day.
“I remember one chilly Christmas morning,” he went on, “we jumped out of bed, and ran to the kitchen. All we saw was one small apple on each plate! Disappointed, we headed to the barn to do our chores. The next Christmas, again we dashed to the kitchen! This year was different than any other. Our plates were empty!”
Joy at Christmas for children is so significant, yet so fragile. Even today, as we shop for gifts, we fear a lack of joy when the wrapping is torn away.
How can we offer children a sure joy; joy that does not disappoint?
I tried it this summer at a few Bible camps.
I loved the joy on one camper’s face when in the middle of speaking in chapel, I pulled out a candy cane and handed it to him. Then came more joy when I pulled out a box-full and promised one for each camper.
As the chapel filled with the sound of peeling plastic wrappers, what a greater joy I had to share another gift that brings everlasting joy. It is a gift for each child who receives Jesus as simply as they received the gift they now nibbled. It’s Jesus’ promised joy that we offer to each camper.
“…these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” Jesus promises in John 17:13. “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 15:24).
Reach out your hand this Christmas toward a child in your life. Offer not just a gift that will be nibbled away, but the eternal joy that is for all through our Savior, born more than 2,000 years ago!
You might think, “I’ve never shared the Gospel with a child!” Here are a couple great tools from One Hope Canada that will help you do just that this Christmas.
Throne: An Object Lesson on Making Jesus Number One
Substitute: An Object Lesson on Jesus Taking Our Place on the Cross
Roland McQuade serves as a missionary with One Hope Canada; he creates and teaches training courses for the mission and speaks at children’s Bible camps.