Monday, December 20, 2010

A YouTube Advent Calendar: December 20

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.

-      Isaiah 11:1-9

What do you want for Christmas? I hear adults ask children this question all the time. It’s an innocent enough question; I’ve asked it myself on a number of occasions.

But I wonder … could we be asking our children better questions? Deeper questions? Would it not be better to draw on their deepest hopes and desires, rather than on their shallower instincts? Would asking such questions awaken something in them that might not otherwise awake?

Of course we’re going to give gifts at Christmastime. We give our children Barbie dolls and trucks and Polly Pockets and Legos because, through their play, they learn about the world. They learn the wonder of story and the structure of science.

But what if we didn’t stop at asking which toy is their heart’s desire? What if we found out their real heart’s desire? In so doing, maybe we’d find out they’d really like there to be no more war in the world. No bullying at school. No hunger. No tears. No cancer. No divorce. No HIV. No loneliness. Maybe we’d learn they feel guilty about something and would like forgiveness. Maybe we’d learn they don’t want to be afraid of death. Maybe we’d learn that they want to know God loves them and cherishes them and will take care of them all their lives.

If we help make them aware of their longings, maybe we can begin to point them in a direction where they can dwell on those longings and start to make real decisions about what kind of people they want to become.

That sure would beat, “I want an Xbox more than anything else in the world.” Really? More than anything else? Wouldn’t you rather have Daddy home from Afghanistan? It may seem at first like a downer, but I think we adults can handle downers if we can also help children get in touch with their own feelings.

This year, let’s take our children seriously, and lovingly, and gently meet them where they really are—not where we would feel comfortable for them to be. Let’s give them the Xbox, if such a thing is possible, and then spend more time with them in conversation about what’s really important. This is how wisdom is taught.

Here are the Goo Goo Dolls with “Better Days.”

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