But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Our Christmas season is filled with many special traditions we enjoy together as a family. Decorations fill our home, Christmas movies play on repeat, hot chocolate is gulped (and spilled) while looking at Christmas lights, and we spend time around an Advent wreath reading parts of God’s great story. But my favorite Christmas tradition happens on Christmas morning.

Before we do anything else, we start our Christmas morning with a family Christmas pageant. Our Christmas morning pageant comes with assigned roles for each family member given by our elementary-school-age director(s). As you can imagine, the morning is filled with squeals of laughter and delight. We have had a grandparent-age Mary and, three years ago, we even had a true newborn lying in the trough built by my husband and daughter.

As we draw the Christmas pageant to a close, we then celebrate Jesus’s birthday, complete with birthday cake, candles, and a special gift. The cake is always a highlight, especially since we get to eat it before the sun has even come up. But by far, the most special part of the morning is when we give our children a special gift to open. Inside the box is a plastic, Fisher-Price baby Jesus figurine. This reminds us all of the small gift, wrapped in the cloak of humanity, sent to the world in the most vulnerable state. This is the means by which we find ultimate healing. Christ, our substitute, the one and only who is sufficient to stand in our place, to take the burden of our sins, is God’s gift to a broken and hurting world. May your Christmas season be filled with traditions that point back to the ultimate substitution at the cross that began with the birth of an infant Savior.