“Tell me a story from when you were a kid?!” my sons like to ask. I don’t have as many high school shenanigans to re-play as my husband does, so I often punt to him. He’ll tell them about the time his buddy threw a whole pizza out the sunroof and it landed right back in the driver’s seat … or the time he and his friend took Josh’s grandma’s convertible through a car wash … or the time …
Our kids clamor for stories. On the surface, it’s just for giggles. But under all the fun they show their longing for belonging. Your stories become their stories. This is the principle at work in Deuteronomy when Moses commands the Israelites to “Remember the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.”
This ancient story of deliverance was the Israelites’ story. In Christ, it is our story too. Advent – the four weeks leading up to Christmas – is a precious opportunity to tell The Story to our sons and daughters. As Pam Rhode reminds us, our Christmas preparations involve a posture of watching and waiting for the Hope of the Ages. Last year our family assembled a Jesse Tree to trace The Story through the Old and New Testaments. It consisted of paper ornaments hung on a vertical strip of garland. It was not very complicated, and the kit included Scripture readings for each day of Advent. This gave us the opportunity to explore different books of the Bible together.
Through this daily rhythm, I realized that while training our sons to “think” about what God has done in Christ is central, there are truths they will “catch” just by the very act of gathering after supper and pinning up scraps of paper. (James K.A. Smith explores this power of habit in You Are What You Love, which Morning Star faculty read together in 2016.)We could call it habit, rhythm, or liturgy. A life of devotion means routinely giving praise to God. We bring a sacrifice of praise not once, but evening by evening.
Because Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us,” a regular family devotional life together will reflect that reality as we gather in person. We might read a Psalm of praise, take turns offering prayers of thanksgiving and petition, or read aloud from a devotional book … yet all of these things do more than impart knowledge. Moms and Dads: Remember that our preparation and patience are critical elements of being present with our kids in this rhythm. We model life in Christ’s kingdom by what we do, not just by what we say.
So let your family’s Advent tradition of paper doors or ornaments or countdowns be a springboard into a new year of daily gatherings. The ordinary habits of your family life will form your child’s heart and remind them that The Story is not only true, it is beautiful. And it is daily bread.
You Are What You Love: