When I heard about volunteering for Christmas at the Library, my top choice was story time. What better way to spend an evening than reading Christmas stories to a wiggly but intrigued bunch of small children?
I didn’t count how many kids sat for a story, or multiple stories, but my guess is a couple dozen. Not bad for a weeknight. Many of the young audience members knew about Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus and the three wise men. They loved touching the textured pages. Their parents sat with them on the floor or watched from the back of the room, smiling at their kids engaged in the story of Christ.
I thought about one day in first grade when I read “The Giving Tree” to a kindergarten class at my elementary school. A few years later, I introduced my younger brother to the adventures of Frog and Toad. By middle school, I’d spent hours reading C.S. Lewis and The Baby-Sitters Club series.
Last week, though, I had the privilege to tell not just a great story but the story of Christ who alone offers life in abundance. As I watched the kids lean forward on their knees to see the pictures or try to turn the pages to see what came next, I thought about Matthew 19:14: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
My love for books and kids aside, I volunteered at the Library for three reasons: one, my husband and I look for ways to serve at Christmas instead of exchanging gifts; two, to get into the Christmas spirit; and three, to pass the true Christmas story onto the next generation – sans Santa Claus and expensive gifts.
Not one child visiting the story time nook asked about Santa or Rudolph, and most stayed for at least two stories. One girl got so close to the storyteller’s feet that her mom had drag her back a little bit for other kids to see. One boy told the storyteller not to read the book he picked out until he returned from the bathroom. “I’ll be right back!” he yelled.
A few days after I volunteered, three people asked if I had my Christmas shopping done. That question is usually more about the rush to purchase obligatory gifts than about the great desire to mirror God’s gift to us – Jesus Christ. But last week, as children pointed to the manger on the page and yelled “Jesus!” the other storytellers and I were reminded that, amid hurried shoppers and full holiday schedules, CHRISTmas hasn’t been lost – and it’s not about shiny presents after all.
Sometimes it takes a four-year-old to point that out. And inspire Library volunteers to keep coming back.
For more information about Christmas at the Library, visit BillyGrahamLibrary.org.
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