Using Bible Stories to Teach a Giving Legacy

January 30, 2018 by Robert Hay

Like many families, we have an Advent calendar. But, we don’t just have one calendar, we have several. Some are traditional Advent calendars and others are nontraditional Advent calendars. My kids’ favorites are the Lego Advent calendars where they open a door and put together a small Lego object each day. My son, Stockton’s, Lego advent calendar is based on Star Wars and my daughter, Anderson’s, Lego Advent calendar is themed with the Friends Legos brand. But my wife’s (the Reverend Morgan Hay) favorite Advent calendar is a felt tree with little felt items that you pin onto it each day. Each item you pin onto the tree represents a Bible story. Her parents had one of these when she was growing up and she learned the stories of the Bible each year during advent. As they would pin the item to the tree, her mom would retell the story of the item. Eventually she didn’t need her mom to retell the story because she had learned the stories.

After we were married, Morgan led a craft activity on making these felt Advent calendars at our church so that we could have one of our own. In our house, we are following this practice of telling the stories of the Bible using this felt advent calendar. Over the years we have had a fun time with this. Many nights I take this story time as an opportunity to be a dad and confuse the stories on purpose just so they will correct me and tell me how silly I am. This normally leads to some good laughter and a fair amount of light-hearted eye rolling from my daughter. And it allows my wife to tell the stories in the wonderful way that only a pastor and a mom can!

Bible stories are our story, and it is important to pass these stories on to our children and our children’s children. The stories are at the heart of our faith and we hope they also help to be the foundation from which our children build their faith. The stories of the Bible are part of the legacy that we are a part of in Jesus Christ. But after telling these stories all Advent this year, Morgan and I realized we needed to also talk about how we are living out our faith.

In mid-December we had our annual open house at our home and many people from the church came. A very sweet couple in the church came and left two cards on their way out; one for Stockton and one for Anderson. Inside was a Christmas card for each of them and a $20 bill. To say that they were excited would be an understatement. They cheered and jumped for joy. We haven’t started allowances in our family yet and so they don’t have much of an understanding of money. So, after they calmed down I saw this as an opportunity to discuss one way that we live out our faith — giving.

Now trying to explain the concept of tithing to anyone is difficult, but it is extra hard to explain to a young child who really has no concept of money. And further complicating our conversation was this question asked by Anderson “Mommy is the pastor so if I give money to the church isn’t it just going to Mommy?”  Valid question. Tough answer. Even for the stewardship trained professional like me. Ultimately, we tried to explain to them that everything we have is God’s and that one of the many ways that we act out our faith is by giving back to God. So, on Christmas Eve, each of the kids put $2 into the offering plate. Now, it wasn’t completely voluntary but I know they will remember it. And hopefully eventually muscle memory will take over like it has for me. Giving is so much a part of my faith and my being that I don’t even stress about it. My muscle memory kicks in and I give.

Retelling the Bible stories and modeling giving for our children is important to me and Morgan. These stories were told to us and modeled for us, and it is part of our family heritage. We hope to continue that legacy.