Christmas is more than celebrating Jesus’ birthday. For centuries, Christians have realized that the Savior’s birth in Bethlehem deserves a response of praise. As a result, when we think of Christmas, we are moved to song and gift giving.
Think about the outpouring of Christmas music that praises God for sending his Son. Even unbelieving society hums the tune!
Now think about the other “response of praise,” which is sometimes called “the spirit of Christmas.” God so loved the world that he gave. When we celebrate Christmas, we respond with many earnest expressions of love for loved ones and strangers. Gift giving, contributions for the poor and lonely, and personal acts of love are part of our response of praise.
In the classroom and in our families, this is a time to teach children to think of others. How about applying God’s compassion for sinners by teaching our children to have compassion on those who have not heard the gospel?
Special Ministries has Included sign language videos of “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” in the C18 resources. Children love to sign and sing, and this Christmas song is prominently featured in this December’s Advent services and could also be used in your children’s Christmas service. The videos include two different ways to sign the first verse of the hymn and a video that explains how to do the signs.
Two ways to sign? The first way, Signed English, is the way that students usually sign a hymn: a sign for each word, in the word order of the song. That’s the easiest way for hearing students to sign. But more advanced students may be interested in learning that deaf people would prefer a song to make sense in sign language, and the second video demonstrates how the hymn could be signed conceptually in American Sign Language, so that a person who communicates through sign would smile with recognition and understanding.
Even if the children don’t learn the second way, just showing them the second way of signing offers an opportunity for compassion. Think about someone who can’t hear the Christmas story! We want them to understand that Jesus is Emmanuel who came to save us.
The videos and the explanation can be viewed by families at home. Students can practice the signs outside the classroom, and the discussion about caring about communicating the gospel can go home with them!
Rev. Jim Behringer
Director, Commission on Special Ministries
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