We walked with a crowd into a quaint and decorated downtown store. A woman stood at the entrance with a large bowl of Christmas candy asking the children one by one, “Have you been a good or bad ____ this year?”
My eyes widened as I realized what was happening!
My seven year old son was asked the same question, “Have you been a good or bad boy this year?”
There was no answer.
He hung his head and looked at his feet.
We waited a little before other children exclaimed “Yes, I have!” or “Definitely!” and grabbed their reward from the bowl.
Really. This was no little question to ask a child in exchange for a piece of candy.
How would you respond if you were asked the same thing?
I went up to the woman and said, “Oh! Hi! Thank you! He’s clearly thinking hard about what you asked. Christmas isn’t about getting what we deserve but instead what we don’t! Haha!”
I LAUGHED. In my nerves and frustration, I laughed.
Then I looked at my son and said, "Hun. You can have a piece of candy. Let’s go.”
I handed him a candy.
My cheeks were red with anger. I was about to go ‘Jesus in the marketplace with a whip’ style.
I get it! I get it! I probably overreacted.
And yet, it was the complete opposite message we celebrate at Christmas and for the New Year.
We are not “good for goodness sake.”
We don’t have to “watch out” for our sins not to be revealed to the big guy upstairs.
We may just have a good cry looking back at our difficult year. And that’s ok.
We don’t have to perform to gain God’s favor, a Christmas gift, or a piece of hard candy from last year!
As we walked to the next store I asked my son about what happened and how he was feeling.
I have to remind myself on the regular not to make everything a sermon. Kids are in danger of “Jesus talk” lecture burn out just as much as we are!
However, this was an opportunity to remind my son (and myself!) why Jesus came at all.
I remembered the Bible passages my son memorized for our Christmas program spoke directly to this.
We said them together:
We talked about what the word “wages” meant again. The payment for our sins must be death. Jesus came to die, yes, but not to stay dead.
The gift of God is heaven! Jesus came to raise us from the grave - to live with Him forever!
Following our little chat, instead of walking with our heads down, we were marching with our heads high!
Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!
We can look back at this year with confidence and walk into the New Year with Jesus’ assurance.
We ARE forgiven.
We ARE saved.
We ARE more than good.
Jesus made the sacrifice once and for all. This is the GIFT OF GOD we share!
So my message to my son and you at this Christmastime and New Year is this.
Hold your head up high!
Take that piece of candy. Enjoy the sweet taste of forgiveness.
And if anyone asks if you’ve been “bad or good”, tell them “PERFECT!”
They might want to know your secret.
Share the gift!