I had a little guest in my home last week, and it was my delight to tell her calmly
It’s OK to touch Jesus.
She was transfixed with the nativity scene I had set on the hearth of my fireplace. I watched with joy as she reached out hesitantly and caressed baby Jesus. Just like my own kids, she scooped the tiny figure into her hands and cradled it as she sang him a lullaby.
That’s when her mom walked into the room and began to scold. “No, No, No! We do NOT touch.”
I looked at the mom and calmly repeated.
It’s OK to touch Jesus.
Beyond that, when children are in my home, I WANT them to touch Jesus.
I want them to scoop baby Jesus in their arms and experience that overflowing tenderness as they imagine being there, years ago, on the Holy Night of Jesus’ birth.
I want them to love Jesus.
I want them to touch Jesus.
That’s how it starts.
Having watched several dozen children at play with a nativity set, they all follow the same pattern. They scoop baby Jesus into their arms and cradle him. Then they tuck him into bed and sing him to sleep.
At some point, they begin to play with the sheep and cow and donkey, making the farm animal noises we all know so well.
At some point, they may reenact the arrival of the wise men. Maybe they hold an angel above the heads of the shepherds. Or perhaps they grab a nearby Santa and introduce him to Jesus.
But at the end, they all sing “Away in the Manger” and tip toe away. Because the baby is asleep.
In that moment, Jesus is real.
He stops being some invisible guy sitting on a cloud (that’s how my kids described it when they were little). He stops being an invisible friend that their mom talks to.
He’s real to them.
Let your children touch Jesus.
I get it. I have an heirloom nativity set too. It’s fragile. It has chips and cracks from where I played with it as a child. It’s missing a few sparkles from where the “gems” fell out. That’s not the one I put on the hearth of my fireplace.
I give them something touchable.
When my oldest was a toddler, we celebrated the arrival of Christmas by unwrapping each piece of the nativity set – one a night. To make it more special, I provided a matching sugar cookie. (Except for baby Jesus, I don’t bake baby Jesus cookies. I made a birthday cake instead.)
Nativity Cookie Cutter Set (link to Amazon)
For several years, our nightly Advent ritual included tucking baby Jesus into a homemade cradle and singing him to sleep.
As they got older, I replaced the Little People set with a fancier model. It’s still durable (made of some kind of plastic resin) but it LOOKS fancy. It invites little hands to hold tight to baby Jesus.
Each time it does, I happily assure them
If you’re curious, I have the Fontanini set. It was a gift. (Grandmothers – this makes an awesome gift! I should know.)
(affiliate link, if you click it and buy something at Amazon I get a small percentage. It might cover my daily coffee bill.)
We loved the Little People set when ours were in pre-school.
No matter what you chose, please…
Let them touch baby Jesus and sing him good night,
and cradle Him in their arms and hug him tight.
Let Jesus be real to them on Christmas night.
Let them touch Jesus.
edited: This post was inspired by Wendy Speak’s post on the same subject.