A colorful, carved nativity featuring Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
Photo by Chris Sowder on Unsplash

The Wonder of the Christmas Story: No Dad Bumbling Required

The other night I gifted my son a humble, wooden ornament depicting the incarnation: manger, magi, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in the center. He held it for a beat and then walked off to proudly display it on his mini Christmas tree.

Later at bedtime I told him, “Ya know buddy, that ornament is the best and most important gift of all.” He stared at me blankly, grinned, and looked bemused at my comment. So, I shared how the King of Kings humbled Himself to become a baby to bring all mankind back to Himself. And how that gift is one that will never run out of batteries or fade away.

He stared again, but this time at the ceiling. I could see the gears turning. Then, raising both hands up in the air, my son attempted to explain how Jesus could exist as both God and man.

For him, he felt Jesus was switching back-and-forth between his human “form” (his words) and God. He said all this while moving one hand at a time to show me his thoughts.

Well, here goes nothing, I thought to myself, theology with a seven-year-old right before bed! (It's interesting how these BIG questions and ideas seem to pop-up when everyone needs to wind down.)

Late Night Theology

My son has a knack for this...asking ridiculously HUGE questions right before going to sleep. I remember when he was maybe a year-and-a-half, and I was holding him on my hip outside in the front lawn.

Both of us gazed at the night sky with its stars twinkling in a peppered array.


“Yeah, what's up?”

“Where does God live?”

I remember attempting to answer how this glorious, amazing God dwells in “the heavens,” but not in the sense of a guy sitting around in a far away house. It was a tough conversation, and I totally lost parent points that night trying to distill this to my son.

But, I wanted to nail it tonight. To (hopefully) explain the Son of God becoming a person.

Analogies Fall Short

Since I love music and poetry, my brain tends to wander to metaphor for complex topics. I mean, there are a number of ancient metaphors for explaining the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet, they all fall short...

  • Water in its three states: it exists in solid, liquid, and gas states (but not all at once...this metaphor is closer to modalism).
  • Fire's unity: you can light one flame and then separate it into three, yet they all have the same source (this one seems okay, but doesn't offer much in explaining the unique traits of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
  • The Egg's three parts: shell, yolk, and whites (wait...is God really this fragile?)
  • Light emanating from the sun: The light (Jesus) reveals everything from the sun (the Father).

So, back to my late night, bedroom theology session with my seven-year-old, and I am bumbling through this conversation with the sun and light analogy...

“So, it's like the sun...and uhh...you know, the light coming from it is like Jesus...”

[Child staring blankly]

"...and you know..."

(You see how this is going?)

I caught myself.

I felt like I was talking too much.

(When I was younger I would talk first, check for victims later. Lately, though, I am embracing silence and confusion when handling weighty topics.)

So, I decided to lean into the Christmas Story itself that night.

Letting the Story Speak

So in a fit of wisdom (or helplessness), I went back to the Scriptures.

I shared with my son the story of the eternal Son of God being born like us. How the apostle John described Jesus living among us, tabernacling among humankind.

As I retold the details of the Son of God being born, the weight of explanation fell from my shoulders. In its place: The miracle, awe, and wonder of the Christmas story captivated the moment.

I let the story speak for itself.

Woman sitting by a lighted window, reading the Bible on a snowy day.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In the words of one early Church leader...

O the great God! O the perfect child! the Son in the Father and the Father in the Son...God the Word, who became man for our sakes.”

(Clement of Alexandria, c. 195)

Clement knew the heart of the Christmas story. We're not meant to over-explain it. Instead, we are to face this miraculous and world-altering event with humble hearts, knowing the perfect Son of God came to earth. He arrived the servant King who would one day die on our behalf.

So, to my son: I'm sorry for not letting the Story speak for itself at first. But with all of my imperfections, I hope the miracle of the Christmas story changes your life and sweeps your imagination like it has for me.

This article was updated on October 30, 2020

Jordan Hopkins

Jordan is a freelance content writer and educator. He is passionate about serving others and amplifying their narratives through quality writing. You can find him hanging with his family, fishing, playing guitar, and grinding the best beans for his morning coffee.