For over 40 years, Russ Blowers served as the senior pastor of East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis. One afternoon, at the local Rotary Club, he was asked to introduce himself. Instead of the predictable, “My name is Russ and I’m a minister,” he said:
Hi, I’m Russ Blowers. I’m with a global enterprise. We have branches in every country of the world. We have representatives in nearly every boardroom and parliament on the planet. We’re into motivation and life transformation. We run hospitals, feeding stations, crisis-pregnancy centers, universities, publishing houses, and nursing homes. We care for our clients from birth to death. Our original Organizer owns all the real estate in the universe. He knows everything and lives everywhere and determined from the outset that our product would always be free. Our CEO had a nondescript upbringing. He was born in a hick town, worked as a carpenter, and didn’t own a home. He was misunderstood by his family and hated by his enemies. He was put on trial for crimes he didn’t commit and condemned to death, but later arose from the dead. I talk with him every day.
Now, you tell me, do you think anyone there ever forgot Russ Blowers?
I was reminded of this story, recently, when someone asked how I would explain the Christmas story to a child. To be honest, I was surprised how difficult it proved to come up with a helpful response. But then I realized, Christmas, in its simplest form, is about God making a first impression.
We have four biblical books that tell us about the life and ministry of Jesus, which means in a sense we have four “first impressions” of him. John lets us know that the God who created everything loves the world so much He chose to become part of it. Luke gives us the most historical data about the first Christmas, reminding us that God cares about facts and figures. Matthew begins with, of all things, Jesus’ family tree. He reminds us that Jesus came to a broken world and was even born into a broken family. And Mark technically doesn’t tell the Christmas story; he gets right down to the business of why Jesus came.
Each of these introductions can prove helpful in Jesus in explaining Christmas to a child.
>> According to John, Christmas lets us know God is near.
>> For Luke, Christmas tells us God is true.
>> For Matthew, Christmas shows us God is gracious.
>> From Mark, we’re reminded God is active in the world.
All four of these are lessons any of us, child or adult, need to hear. In fact, when it comes to the Christmas story, children may have an easier time believing than adults. G.K. Chesterton once said, “The world will never starve for wonders, but for the want of wonder.” Children, naturally, embrace the wonder of the Christmas season while many adults fall into cycles of bitterness and cynicism. As a parent, you have the wonderful opportunity to introduce your child to the Christmas story. Relish it. But as you explain Christmas to your children, let their wonder help explain it to you.