My wife Louise and I have 9 children. Louise and I both love to read. So our kids had lots of stories read to them and told to them. I confess that Louise was by far the main reader and teller of stories. We read a wide variety of stories to our children. When it came time to read or tell a Bible story, I would say a few things to the child before and after reading the story. I would say something like the following when reading the Christmas story.
This is a story from the Bible
Many adults have problems with the idea that the Bible is one big story made up of lots of bits and pieces, and that some of these bits and pieces are stories. Some foolishly believe that this diminishes the Bible; that it would be better if you just had facts and maybe some theology with a Creed thrown in. But this is just a hangover from modernism and scientism.
A story powerfully communicates truth and meaning at a deep level and is usually better at keeping your attention. Be that as it may, at the end of the day, you can complain all you want that the Bible is a big story with lots of small stories and claim that your way would have been better. The Triune God chose to reveal Himself in this way. The wise way forward is to accept that He is wiser, and read, mark, learn and inwardly digest what He has done since He brought the Bible into existence and had it recognized and preserved.
This is a true story from the Bible
Lots of stories are not true. Children know this. I did not want to read “The Cat in the Hat” and then “The Christmas Story” and act as if they were the same. I would tell the child very simply that this story is a very different type of story than the others that me and mommy read to them. This story is true.
Why is it true?
Because the Triune God is the ultimate author of this story. He acted in history, and He also made sure the right words were written so you can understand what truly happened and what it truly means.
This is a true story from the Bible about God
Years ago I did a wedding for a man getting married for a second time. During the rehearsal, his 17-year-old daughter got up to read the Bible passage. She started to read in a very solemn voice. She paused. Closed the Bible, and then said, “I don’t want to read this, I want to talk about Me!” Her father’s face fell. She giggled, walked over and kissed him on the cheek and said, “Don’t worry Daddy, I’ll do it right tomorrow. I just wanted to see the look on your face. It was priceless.”
The Bible is for you. The Bible helps you know who you really are. But the Bible is not about you. It is about the Triune God. It reveals Him, and it is only in light of Him that you can begin to truly know yourself.
This is a true story from the Bible about God becoming human
The Christmas story is boring and irrelevant if this is not grasped. Sometimes the child would ask me how the great big God could fit into a tiny baby. I would not tell the child to read the Athanasian Creed for the answer, but I would put into my own words what that Creed teaches.
I would say, “It isn’t about God getting squished into a tiny baby, it is about a tiny baby being fit into God, and God has lots of room, but with all that room, the baby fits perfectly.”
This is a true story from the Bible about God becoming man to save men and women, boys and girls
It is important to let even a young child know that the Christmas story is an early story in the set of stories that culminates in Jesus dying upon the cross as the Saviour of everyone who trusts in Him.
Your child does not need to be told that one day when they are older they can make up their mind for themselves. Do not be misled and say “I don’t want to push my faith down the mouth of my child.” Do not think “My child is beautiful and perfect and does not need a Saviour.” Your child needs Jesus to be their Lord and Saviour.
Your child needs to hear you say to them as you snuggle, “Jesus is my Lord and Saviour. I love remembering the story of His birth. I pray you will believe in Him as well. Let’s read the story now.”