Elf on the Shelf
By Dot Bowen
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
The Christmas tradition “Elf on the Shelf” has been gaining momentum over the last several years. This tradition includes a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day's adventures. Each morning, the scout elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their scout elf each morning. My response when I heard about this new tradition was, Are you kidding me?! But, of course, all of my grandchildren have scout elves and eagerly await their arrival each year.
As I thought about this crazy tradition, I realized that we often put Jesus on a shelf. We either take Him off the shelf during Christmas or wait until He performs some kind of miracle before we acknowledge Him. And some of us have put Him on the shelf for good.
If you know anything about me, you know I love And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without decorations. Several Christmases ago my children played a joke on me. I have a larger-than-life Santa Claus that takes residence on my porch every Christmas. Well, my children decided to place Santa at the foot of my bed while I was sleeping. When I woke the next morning, I nearly had a heart attack upon seeing Santa looming over my bed! However, my grandkids were beside themselves because all of their scout elves were all over Santa so they thought their little elves had placed Santa in my bedroom! Oh, to be a child again and to believe the impossible!
This reminds me of the story in Mark 10 when Jesus was teaching and the little children were coming to Him. It seems the disciples thought the children would bother Jesus because they tried to keep them from Him. Jesus told the disciples unless they came to Him as children, they would not receive the kingdom of God. What did Jesus mean? Certainly, the kingdom of God is not a big nursery full of children. Let’s think about the heart of a child. A child has the ability to believe without demanding evidence. As a child prays, she believes God will say yes. Most adults pray believing God will say no. Why the difference? Parents don’t give children everything they ask for, just what’s best for the child. Why would we believe God would or should give us everything we ask for? Do we not show our children love when we say no? As humans, when we say no, it’s because of love, not the absence of love. Surely God—all-knowing and all-powerful—also shows us love when He says no.
Christmas is the celebration of the greatest gift of love ever given. John 3:16 tells us God so loved He gave. He gave His only Son for you and for me. If God gave His only Son, would He withhold anything good from us? We don’t need an Elf on the Shelf. We have a baby born in a manger who grew up knowing He would go to the cross for us, rise from the grave, and take His place at the right hand of God. We are His children, and He delights in giving us good gifts.
When my grandchildren start looking for their elves, they don’t stop until they find each one. It is the seeking that brings them joy. When the angel told the shepherds they would find Jesus wrapped in cloths lying in a manger, they went looking for Him. I pray you will wake every morning with the desire to find Jesus. Jesus isn’t hiding, but we must seek Him to find Him. As a child finds joy while looking for an elf, we can find joy while seeking Jesus. We no longer need an angel, or a star in the sky to help us find Him. The apostle John told us where He is. He is on His throne. (Revelation 1:9-19) And because Jesus is no longer in the manger. We can rejoice because He is sitting on His throne! Who needs an Elf on the Shelf when you have Jesus on the throne?
Further Reading Matthew 18:14; John 3:16; Revelation 1:9-19