There is something about a good story that really can work a person’s imagination, help process through difficulty, or just leave us with a smile on our face. Stories are powerful.
I am very thankful for the “Little People” that Fisher Price puts out—especially the biblical ones. My father-in-law recently got my daughter Claire the Little People Nativity Set and she loves it. I can tell because they all are covered in baby slobber half the time. Baby Jesus is currently in a cocoon of solidified saliva.
Fisher Price has done a good job of creating these cute, little people. The facial features, outfits, and color design—they all do a great job at setting the scene. Yet, the toys in and of themselves don’t communicate the story. They are the cast of characters, the set, and scene. There still needs to be a storyteller.
Since we got this Nativity set, my wife and I sit with Claire and tell her the story of Christmas. We grab the camel, 3 Wise Men, and have them talk to one another. We pick up the Wise Men and have them give Claire kisses so that she can see that they journey to share love to the Christ child. We take Joseph and Mary and have her stare at them and tell her (with made up voices) “Jesus is our precious child and we love Him this much…” This line is followed by Mary and Joseph kissing Claire all over and we don’t stop until she smiles. Next, comes baby Jesus with His painted golden halo and saliva cocoon. “I came into the world, Claire, for you! I love you so much…” More kisses, more smiles from Claire.
As a Youth Worker I am saddened to see how many of our young people either don’t care or are bored by the story of the God who became man. In the last 13 years, I’ve realized that our young people don’t care or are bored by the story because we have stopped telling the story well. There is a lack of excitement, joy, and wonder in the telling of this story.
The storytelling has become dull. Think about it. How many times have you heard people talk about the Christmas story as if it were just another of BuzzFeed’s top 25 list, a matter of fact type thing that just is. “God became man. Can you pass the potato salad?”
Claire smiles and laughs when baby Jesus kisses her—she is introduced and becomes a part of the story. My wife and I change our voices, we place Jesus on top of the couch, sometimes He is on the Christmas Tree, or on the dog’s head. The story must be told with new ardor, new methods and new expressions so that it captures her attention. It is and will always be the same story, but the listener needs to hear it in fresh new ways. The ardor, enthusiasm, passion, etc. must be palpable. We are talking about the GOD who BECAME a MAN!! This story and the time uncle Willie used poison ivy at camp to clean his backside should not stand toe-to-toe with each other. The method and expression in which we share the story has to be fresh, especially for those of us who have heard the story so many times that it really doesn’t do anything for us. This doesn’t mean we change the story—we cannot—but, the way in which we tell it should be new. Paint/art, music, film, food, etc. are ways to tell the story. Humanity is so creative (click on the blue text)! We can come up with new methods easily; we just need to use our imagination and talents.
Claire will outgrow the baby Jesus kissing method and expression. My wife and I will need to come up with other creative ways to tell the story. Let’s face it, reading it from Scripture to her at the age of 1 or 2 isn’t going to capture it for her. The story must be told over and over again. When our children begin to show that they do not care or are bored with the story of God becoming man, it means we are not telling the story well.
May this story never seize to capture the imagination of our children. May you and I never seize to tell it well, because it is the greatest story ever told.
Merry Christmas to all of you and your loved ones.