Nothing will put you in the Christmas spirit quite like the sound of your kids fighting with each other. Especially when they’re fighting over baby Jesus from the nativity set. Now that’s what the season is all about.
This weekend both of my sons have small parts in the children’s Christmas play at church. The oldest one has to say, “And the government shall be upon his shoulder.” I’ve spent the last month trying to convince him to say, “And the gubmunt shall be upon his shoulder.” He’s not having it.
“Dad, I don’t know.”
He’s afraid he’ll get in trouble.
I told him that I’m the pastor. And pastor’s kids get to do whatever they want. It’s in the Bible somewhere. I think.
It’s different with the youngest. My wife and I are just praying that he can make it through the whole play without disrobing and dancing like Iggy Pop. Our fingers are crossed.
When I was a kid the best part of Christmas was the week leading up to it. I loved the anticipation. And, no matter what I got, there was always sort of a let down when the 26th came. Everything always seemed to go by too fast.
Time still moves fast. Maybe even quicker than it did when I was a kid. And raising my own kids can be tough. Especially in those ironic moments when they fight over Jesus. I think that there were three times last week when I thought I was having a stroke. Is that normal? Good.
It’s easy to wish time away. To sort of will it to move faster. As strange as it seems, it can be easy to get our wish. All we have to do is retreat from the sounds of children fighting and hide in our phone or our work. Anything to get away from the sound of four-year-olds fighting over the baby Jesus. And the next thing we know, those four-year-olds are in their 30s and you’re wishing you could hold them again. That wish never comes true. You can’t go back.
That’s why it’s important to enjoy the moment. Even when it’s loud. Even when you think your kids are giving you a stroke. One day you’ll wish that you could come back to it. And you won’t be able to.
When my firstborn son was about two years old a church sent me a letter and asked my wife and I to come for an interview. They were considering me to be their next pastor. I was finishing school in Kentucky and we were broke. Needless to say, we were excited. The church was in Alabama and they offered to fly us out for the weekend. Just the two of us. Leave the kid at home. They didn’t want him to get in the way.
But aren’t our kids supposed to get in our way? There’s no one in the world better at reminding you what’s really important than your own kids. Usually they have to get in your way to do that.
I never took that trip to Alabama. There just wasn’t a good vibe. Instead, I interviewed with a smaller church in Georgia. We met at a restaurant. My kid was there with us. While we were waiting on our table he was growing restless. It was getting hard to keep him under control. Finally, I lost him. By the time I caught him, it was too late. He was crawling up on the lap of one of the people who would be interviewing me. But he wasn’t in the way. That’s when I knew that this was a good church.
This Sunday, before that same church, he’ll say, “And the government shall be upon his shoulder.”
And my other son will sing his song and maybe even end up dancing like Iggy Pop.
I just hope that he keeps his clothes on.