By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
There’s just something different about Christmas morning.
It’s like there’s something electric in the air. As the sun rises on Christmas day, the light permeates our curtains and falls across our faces. When we blink ourselves awake, we aren’t as tired or groggy as we usually are. There’s a certain energy that Christmas morning brings to every man and woman.
But especially to the children.
I remember how it used to go:
My brother, my sister, and I went to bed around nine on Christmas Eve. But because of the excitement, I just couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I tried counting sheep. I’d even considered admitting defeat and just staying up all night, but then decided against it. Nothing seemed to work. I just couldn’t wait for Christmas.
Eventually, I fell asleep, only to be awoken by my little sister.
“Wake up! Wake up! Santa’s been here!”
My eyes shot open. I turned to the clock on my bedside table. It read: 5:23.
Santa’s early this year, I thought.
I followed my sister out into the living room where my brother was already sitting, his eyes as big as saucers as he looked at the heap of presents under the tree.
“Whoa…” I would say as my eyes mirrored my brother’s.
My sister pointed to the present in the corner, the biggest one. It was about as tall as she was.
“I bet that one is mine,” she said.
“No way. You were naughty this year,” I said, “It’s probably mine.”
Kyndra stuck her tongue out at me.
“See. You proved my point,” I said.
“Both of you are wrong,” Trent said, “It’s definitely mine.”
“Well there’s only one way to find out,” said Kyndra, “Let’s go wake up Mom and Dad so we can open presents.”
We all stampeded up the stairs to my parents’ bedroom and approached their bed.
“I don’t want to wake them up. They’ll be mad,” Trent said and pointed at me, “You do it.”
“I don’t want to make them mad,” I said pointing at Kyndra, “You do it.”
“No. You do it,” she said.
“No, you,” I said to Trent.
“I’m not doing it,” he said.
Suddenly a voice came out of the darkness.
“None of you have to do it. We’re already up. It sounded like a herd of cattle were climbing our staircase.”
“Maybe it was a herd of reindeer,” said Kyndra.
“Ha. Ha.” said my Mom, unamused.
Dad looked at the clock, “It’s not even six yet! Why are you guys up?”
“It’s Christmas,” Kyndra said, as if that was enough of an excuse.
“Go downstairs and go back to bed. Wait until seven. Then we’ll open presents. It’s too early,” said Dad, rolling over and putting his head under his pillow.
My siblings and I descended the stairs and looked at each other.
“I can’t go back to sleep,” said Trent.
“Me neither,” said Kyndra.
“What do we do then?” I asked.
We filled the time until seven o’clock by sorting the presents by the names on the tags (Kyndra got the big one, unfortunately). We each sat down with our presents and tried to guess what was inside. We shook them, sniffed them, and tried to peak into the wrapping paper.
Finally, we heard movement coming from upstairs. Our parents came down the stairs with heavy, tired footsteps. They plopped down in their matching recliners.
“Alright, who’s first?” Kyndra asked.
Dad held up a finger.
“First,” he said, leaning over and snatching his Bible off the end table, “We have to read the Christmas story.”
There was an inpatient “Ughh” from all three of us.
Unabashed, Dad began to read:
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”
Dad stopped reading and passed his Bible to Mom, pointing to where he left off. Mom read:
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”
While we may have listened to this story impatiently that year, as the years went on something began to happen. Every year my dad would pull out his Bible and he and my mom would read the Christmas story. But after a few years, listening to it before opening presents didn’t seem so grueling. Over time, that tradition changed us. The reading of Scripture molded us in a way that only God can do through His word. While they read, the anxiety that we were facing because of life’s situations deteriorated. Our worries vanished. Our problems didn’t seem so big.
Soon, the Christmas Story was more than just a story. It reminded us of a confident obedience that results from following the will of God, just like Mary had. It renewed our spirits in a new and fresh way. It strengthened our faith in a God who loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins. It brought us hope in the fact that not only did Jesus come but He is coming again, and soon all our tears will be wiped away.
There’s just something different about Christmas morning.
Parents: Read your children the Christmas story. Make it a tradition.