Heartprints

Happy Birthday Jesus

Today, all around the world, people are celebrating. Typically regardless of country, people will stop everything and because of wonderful childhood memories, they will carry on family Christmas traditions with fervor. We call this day Christmas but what are we really celebrating?

I am one of those rare siblings who is blessed with a sister who is 17 years younger than me. The youngest of 7 with older siblings ages 12 to 22 helped her to develop communication skills early.  She was an amazingly sharp little one whose heart was as sweet and tender as any heart you could imagine.

My most favorite Christmas memory is one with my Lisa. I gathered my 2 ½ year old sister in my arms that snowy Christmas Eve as we snuggled on the loveseat in front of the lights of the Christmas tree. I opened the Wordless Book that I had received in my Child Evangelism Fellowship Summer Training course and I told her the Good News. She listened intently. I asked if she knew what we would be celebrating the next morning. She quickly replied, “It’s Jesus’ birthday.” Her eyes suddenly grew big and round and she jumped up and facing me she threw her hands over her mouth and gasped in horror. I leaned forward in concern.

She frantically confided, “Oh Suzi, tomorrow is Jesus’ birthday and we don’t have Him a present yet. We need to go to Kmart and get Jesus a blue light special.” I calmly told her that Jesus didn’t want a blue light special; He wanted her to give Him her heart.

With a look of stern disapproval she put her little hands on her hips and said, “Well, if He is going to be that picky we won’t get Him anything.”

On Christmas morning Lisa looked at me from across the room and tears filled her eyes. She came running over and said, “Oh Suzi, today is Jesus’ birthday and we didn’t get Him anything.”

My response, “Well, sweetie, You know what He wants.”

She nodded with a great weariness and sighed, “Yes, but I can’t give it to Him.”

Children don’t just believe in Jesus because we tell them to do so. True belief comes from the core of who we are.

In June the following year as I was reading right from the Bible, the story of Samuel, Lisa interrupted to tell me that like Samuel, God was calling to her. I asked her what He was saying. She shared that He wanted her heart. This time she was willing.

Jesus came to live among us (John 1:14) so that one day He could live within us forever.  Christ in us the Hope of Glory! (Colossians 1:27)

Jesus’ favorite gift is the gift of our heart.  Do you want Him to have a Happy Birthday? Well, we know what He really wants.

Suzi Ciliberti

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."