She was about seven years old, curly blonde hair bouncing in the breeze as she glided to a stop in the driveway that crisp fall day. The sun had been warmer than usual and we were in our lawn chairs out front in the cul-de-sac watching the neighborhood kids playing together. They’d congregated in our driveway because we had a tricycle/scooter/skateboard obstacle course laid out for them.
The kids were already talking about what they wanted for Christmas. Thanksgiving was just days away.
“So when is God’s birthday?” she asked. “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. When is God’s birthday?”
“Wow, Jade! That’s a good question!” I encouraged. “In fact, it’s really a very important question. When is your birthday?”
“It was July 29th. I got to have a swimming party!”
“What do you like about Jesus’ birthday, Jade?”
“Getting presents!!” The other kids chimed in now, announcing their own wants for Christmas.
“What does Jesus get for his birthday?” I asked. Noticing right away I’d thrown water on their paradejm I asked a less confusing question, though still a challenge. “Why do we have birthdays? Does anyone know?” Met with quiet expectant faces, I smiled. They were waiting for the answer to my riddle. “When you have your birthday, everybody celebrates that you were born. Your birth is the day you were born. That’s why they call it a birth-day!”
A collective “Oh…OK!”
Then came the hook. “That’s why God doesn’t have a birthday.”
Shock and chagrin! “What?!” “Why?!” “Why doesn’t God get to have a birthday!”
I offered everyone gum, gathering around closer. Speaking mysteriously, I continued. “Because God was never born…in fact God has always been God. He’s the one that made everyone else to be born.” Looking at each face, I whispered, “In fact, did you know that Jesus is God, too?”
Jade looked at me sideways…had her doubts. “But Jesus has a birthday. How come He gets a birthday and God doesn’t?”
“Well, God decided that Jesus needed to come be a human baby, then a kid like you guys, then a teenager..and then a grown-up man so He could show us how to be the best kids, teenagers, and grownups we can be. So, He had to be born like us, too. That’s how he got to have a birthday.” I left unspoken the ultimate reason He came; His death and resurrection would be for another discussion.
“Oh.” She saw what I said, but something still bothered her.
“Do you think it’s OK for God to not have a birthday?” I offered
“I don’t know.” She seemed resolved to the unfortunate situation.
“You know what, Jade? I want God to be happy, too. You know what He wants more than anything?”
Her eyes lit up now.
“He just wants us to find out as much as we can about Him and how much He wants us to be His forever friends. He says, if we really want to be friends, He tells us everything we need to know. He’ll never stop hoping and waiting for us to do that because He’s actually going to have the biggest celebration in the world and He wants everyone there. But a lot of people just don’t want to be friends with God and won’t be at His house for the party.” Then smiling and waving to them all, I announced, “But you are all invited!”
“Hooray!!” “Whoo Hooo!” “Yea!!!” They all jumped up and down festively. Jade, being the oldest and wisest among the preschoolers and kindergarteners, just smiled, climbed onto her bike and glided away. Veering up the street toward her house she turned, smiled and waved. I waved back and prayed she’d be there. I prayed they’d all be there.