A few weeks ago, I had an amazing conversation with my daughter Charlie about the biblical heart of Christmas. Full disclosure: Charlie can't talk. She's only three months old. Still, I'll never forget what she taught me about the love of Christ.
Charlie and I were basking in the warm glow of our family's Christmas tree. My wife was visiting some friends for the evening, and for the first time in Charlie's short life, we were completely alone.
As we lounged by the tree—I in my squashy arm chair and Charlie in her baby swing—I did what any well-meaning dad would do during such a sentimental moment. I decided to deliver a dad-speech.
To be honest, I'm not sure what overcame me. As we sat on the verge of my very first child's very first Christmas, I felt compelled to explain why we were doing all of this—why we were decorating a tree and preparing gifts and lighting candles. I wanted to tell Charlie something—anything—about Jesus.
If you had one shot to tell a three-month-old about the meaning of Christmas, what would you say? Looking back, I could have drawn from one of many classic Bible passages that proclaim the hope of Christ's birth.
I could have pulled a Linus—that wise, cartoon theologian from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"—and recited the second chapter of Luke's Gospel:
Luke 2:8-14 (GNT)
There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!"
I didn't do that.
I could have jumped straight to the mystery of the Incarnation, reading the opening chapter of John's Gospel for Charlie:
John 1:14 (GNT)
The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father's only Son.
I didn't do that either.
The passage that did pop out of my mouth wasn't a "Christmas verse" at all. In that dimly lit moment with my daughter, sharing John 14:6 made all the sense in the world to me.
"Charlie," I whispered, "He is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through him."
Admittedly, I didn't get much of a reaction from little Charlie, but as our family prepares to celebrate Christmas, these words from our Lord Jesus have not stopped swimming through my head. Thanks to Charlie, John 14:6 is quickly becoming my new favorite Christmas verse. Its simplicity is infinitely rich—Christ's answer to the question posed by the Christmas carol, "What Child Is This?"
Most of all, I love how this verse frames the Christian life as a journey. The gift of Christ is not some stale Christmas toy that loses its luster with time.
The gift of Christ is a living adventure story—a fairy tale come true. This vivid metaphor shaped the early church's imagination so profoundly that the very first Christians were called "followers of the Way."
And who is waiting for us at journey's end? A loving Father.
Perhaps that's why this verse resonates so deeply with me as I point my little daughter to the white-hot center of Christmas. I want her to know the love of her Heavenly Father.
I, after all, am never going to replicate God's perfect love. I'm going to let her down more times than I care to think about.
So I'll keep pointing Charlie to the Way as best I can. If she journeys with Christ into the infinite truth, life, and love of the Father, then each embarrassing dad-speech will have been well worth it.
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