At the heart of Christmas is the Child of Bethlehem, who was born into this often cold, hostile world to warm us with His heavenly Father’s love. It was a child who began the first Christmas celebration, and it is children who keep it alive in their own special ways.

Adults know this. Christmas brings out our childish innocence, we become tender, and our hearts beat with excitement as when we were kids—with the carols, the lights, the gifts, the symbolism and festive gestures. We associate Christmas with children, and each year we like to remember their simple joy.

One December evening in the midst of the Christmas rush, my wife and I were returning home after a long, tiring day. I felt disgruntled, not just by the jostling bus ride, but by nostalgia for warmer Christmases, less commercial, more musical.

I was musing on these and other thoughts when a family with small children got on the bus. The kids were spunky, a good thing on a dull night, but the best was about to begin. Suddenly I heard a pa rum pum pum pum! At first I thought it was just the natural sequence of my inner thoughts, but no­—it was the children who had just gotten on the bus. A live presentation of the “Little Drummer Boy!” With no prompting from their parents, the two were singing with full force:

Come, they told me
Pa rum, pum, pum, pum
A newborn King to see
Pa rum, pum, pum, pum

Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum, pum, pum, pum
To lay before the King
Pa rum, pum, pum, pum
Rum, pum, pum, pum
Rum, pum, pum, pum. 1

A few days later, we were in a coastal town we visit each year to bring good cheer, toys, and the message of Christ at Christmas. After an intense day of activity, we were at the home of a dear friend who always receives us enthusiastically with open arms and tea on the table. On this night, though, the tiredness of the day was evident all around. We had used up all our physical resources, and our hosts were also tired from a long workday. How were we going to spread Christmas cheer among these weary hearts? Someone began strumming a carol on the guitar, and we sang along. We were beginning to wake up a bit, but still not enough to get into full swing.

Who brought us out of our slump? A little child. We had explained to Franco—a four-year-old resident of the house—that the best of Christmas was not the open present, but the open heart. So when we began to sing the song, “Jesus Come into My Heart,” Franco’s voice rang clearly over all the rest. He enunciated each word purposely as he sang, fully concentrated on the meaning of this powerful message:

Jesus come into my heart,
Fill me with Your love and light.
Children everywhere pray this little prayer,
Ask Jesus in tonight.

Suddenly, all of us were fully awake to witness a true Christmas miracle—Christ born in the heart of a believing child.

The final episode occurred on the last day of our visit when around twenty children were gathered for games and prizes. After they had raced rowdily and happily up and down the lane in competitions and relays, it was time to tell the story of the first Christmas—but would they settle down? To our surprise, they sat on the ground in a semicircle in front of us, taking the song sheets in their now-sweaty hands, and with concentration and reverential solemnity, they searched for the right carols and began to sing along. Their parents and all of us were in awe at this simple childlike display of worship. For a moment, it was as if we had a miraculous glimpse into the stable on the first Christmas night:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask You to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Your tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with You there.

Christ manifests His presence in each child who celebrates His birth. May He also touch your life and home this Christmas.

  1. Little Drummer Boy: Lyrics: Katherine K. Davis, Music: Traditional Czech carol
  2. Jesus Come into my Heart: Music and lyrics: Cathy Gehr, Michael Gilligan
  3. Away in a Manger: Music: James R. Murray, William J. Kirkpatrick, Lyrics: Unknown