A few years ago, a Christmas tradition started called “The Elf on the Shelf” where an elf doll “magically” moves from place to place usually at night throughout one’s home leading up to Christmas. I’ve seen some creative photos of elves on shelves, fireplaces, and just about everything else. My personal favorite picture of our elf was being taped to the wall surrounded by plastic little green army men. My kids always got a good laugh out of the elf stringing toilet paper all around the house and on the Christmas tree as well. They could hardly wait to wake up each morning and discover what the mischievous little elf had done while they slept. Recently, my seven year old son had the big idea of turning the security camera in the living room towards the Christmas tree to capture Santa in the act on Christmas Day. Shortly after he had positioned the camera just right, he moved it back. He said, “Ginger (the elf on the shelf) saw me move it and that’s not the right thing to do.” My wife and I laughed at his innocence and good heart.
I couldn’t help but try to spiritually capitalize on this event. As he was getting ready for bed, I said to him, “You know, Jesus can see every move we make…and He even knows what we are thinking” (Luke 5:22; Mark 2:8). His eyes opened really big, and he said, “I don’t want to do something wrong and make Jesus upset.” I thanked him for his desire to please the Lord and talked about honoring the Lord with our thoughts, actions, and words. I know one day soon, the “magic” of holiday elves and jolly old bearded men in red suits will end, but the TRUTH of the Savior will always remain. We have always worked hard to teach our kids the significance and truth of Jesus’ birth and Christmas. We have also not demonized every fun Christmas tradition either. All our kids are saved and love Jesus. While two out of three don’t believe in Santa anymore, they all believe in the reality of Jesus as their Savior.
While I’m not one to discourage Christmas lights, holiday decorations, or festive traditions I am one to over-emphasize Jesus at Christmas. Every year I think through presents, decorations, and traditions so as not to distract or diminish Jesus. Parents have asked me before, “Should we participate in Santa, Elves, etc.?” My advice is this: Prayerfully think through your Christmas customs and holiday happenings and whatever you do make sure you make much of Jesus!
Question: How could you use the traditions and decorations of Christmas to point to Jesus? How do you know if you’ve made more of them than you have of Jesus?
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.
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