One of my favourite films is the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye, the Dairyman, asks the question: “And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!” They had traditions for everything – How to sleep, how to eat, how to work, how to wear clothes. “You may ask how these traditions get started? I’ll tell you – pause – I don’t know. BUT, it’s a tradition!”
Traditions, habits, or customs can be instruments in our grandparents’ toolbox as we seek to be a disciple-maker in the lives of our children and grandchildren. Intentional Christian grandparents can create teachable moments to pass our faith in God to the generations that follow.
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Psalm 78:4
“One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts …” Psalm 145:4
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice …” (2 Tim. 1:5).
At Christmastime, our family tradition is to gather as Papa reads the story of Christmas in Luke 2 to our children and grandchildren. When they were toddlers, this happened through a picture storybook. In addition to reading from the Bible, we are also reading “Good News! It’s Christmas!” by Glenys Nellist for the youngest members of our family.
If your family is like ours, the ages of our grandchildren are wide-ranging – which also means there is a wide-ranging attention span. But take heart! Amid all the wiggles and squiggles of the little ones and their delightful presence, they still have the remarkable ability to listen and learn.
This year, we will add to our Christmas tradition by using the back story and music of some of our favourite Christmas hymns.
One of my favourite Christmas hymns is “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.” Written by Emily Elliott, who was involved in philanthropic work to rescue missions and Sunday School work in England in the 1800s, this song was used to clarify the meaning of Advent and the Nativity to children. Read the words of this traditional hymn carefully and think about its message.
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
[Refrain] O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for thee.
Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying, “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
I am moved to tears as I contemplate the message: Jesus Christ left the majesty of heaven and the splendour of the heavenly choir only to find there was no room in the inn for his miraculous birth. A stable to shelter the animals and a rough-hewn manger was his birthplace; what a dynamic word picture placing the poverty of Jesus’s birth in contrast to the magnificence of heaven he left for us. That babe in the manger was God’s only Son who came to pay sin’s debt for us on the cross of Calvary. And He’s coming again one day to take us home to be with Him! Love transcending! What joy! What hope we have in Christ our Lord and Saviour! How I desire my children and grandchildren to make room in their hearts for Him this Christmas season. Let us, as grandparents, make room for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in our hearts so that our children and grandchildren will be reminded of our sincere faith in Christ.
Consider sharing the words and music of your favourite Christmas song this year with your loved ones! Many hymns fall under the public domain for use without obtaining permission to do so. And YouTube has so many beautiful recordings of Christmas hymns that we may enjoy. Listen to this beautiful rendition of Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4Bf0IowI3k
If your grandchildren live away from you, consider using your phone, text, Messenger, FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype to connect with them. If you need to learn how to use internet-based forms of communication, ask any kid for help. Our youngest generation is fantastic with technology!
This Christmas season begin a wonderful tradition of engaging in discipleship moments with your family for Christ. Actively, verbally, passionately telling of the mighty acts of God in our lives is key to passing down our faith to our children and grandchildren.
We sincerely wish a Merry Christmas from our team at Christian Grandparenting Network Canada to you and yours. We pray God’s best blessings for you and your family in the coming year.
Dave and Kathie, Laurel, Roger and Deb, Ed and Alice
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13