Part 2 of 4:
In spite of the commercialization of Christmas, there are ways to put Christ back into the center of the Christmas celebration. It may take a great deal of effort to correct old, ingrained habits, but the rewards will be great as you find your energy and enthusiasm increasing instead of dissipating during the holiday season.
Here are some valuable tips to aid you as you re-invest the Christmas season with awe for our wonderful Savior; as you teach your children how to celebrate the incarnation — the coming of God to earth in human flesh.
Focus on Jesus:
1. Read the Christmas story together as a family at dinnertime or as a part of other family “together” time. Perhaps combine the reading with the lighting of advent candles and read the Scriptures that relate to each candle. This would space out the Christmas story over a 5 week period. Have a different family member read each time from an age appropriate Bible – i.e., a young child could read from a children’s Bible. Talk about why God sent His Son into the world in a human body and follow it through to the cross and the empty tomb.
2. When entertaining guests during the holiday season, both Christians and unbelievers, emphasize the real reason for celebrating Christmas:
a. sing carols together, with someone accompanying on guitar or keyboard;
b. share testimonies or personal stories from other Christmas seasons;
c. suggest special prayer for others who may not be having a happy Christmas, such as: our troops overseas, the homeless, nursing home residents, those who have experienced recent personal losses, or those who do not know Christ’s love;
d. read aloud stories with a Christmas theme;
e. watch videos or DVD’s with Christmas related themes that teach Christian values. Talk about the story themes.
More to come . . . Part 3
©2011, Marcy Alves
Thanksgiving is over; Black Friday has come and gone – thankfully. Family and friends have departed and quiet prevails in the house. Guest rooms are cleaned and back in order and the family dog has eaten his share of turkey. Leftovers have been served until no one wants to face them again. No more gravies, stuffing, pies or eggnog until Christmas.
I’m glad we don’t eat this way every day. But the community effort in preparing the Thanksgiving meal, the family fellowship around the table, the camaraderie at the kitchen sink and dishwasher, and the shared football experience in the TV room, all add memories that are a part of the fabric of our lives. Shared experiences, shared memories are so important to remind us that we have lived – that our existence has been significant, if not to the world, than certainly to each other.
There is something special about the Thanksgiving through Christmas season. Year after year as we celebrate these two important events there is a nostalgia in the air that moves us to keep in touch with each other – family with family, and friends with friends. We telephone to or receive calls from out-of-town family, thankful that the aging ones are still with us. Calls, cards, notes, or emails come from friends with whom we seldom communicate at other times of the year.
There seems to be a yearning to reconnect in a more tangible way during the holiday season. It’s different from Facebook communications, which is so general – a kind of put-it-out-there and see if anyone reads it. Thanksgiving and Christmas communications are more like, “we think of you specifically, care about our relationship with you, and want to renew our personal connection”.
There is also a spiritual element to this season that is unlike other times of the year; the awareness of a God-connection. It’s a mystical sense of the “other world” that runs parallel with this physical one – the invisible, unseen dimension that came into our space-time zone some 2,000 years ago in the person of a little baby boy named Jesus.
Even though the spirit of this world has tried to get our attention off of that original gift from God, the light still shines brightly and the darkness has not been able to extinguish it. When we see the decorations in stores, on houses, and other buildings – and though their themes may be purely secular, they still remind us that something happened those many years ago that changed the course of the history of the world, and continues to change history as each new year is added to that history.
We are reminded in John 1:6-7, 9 of the entrance of this supernatural light:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”
and in John 1:14 of God in a human body:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
There is a sense of joy and expectation in this season – and it’s not about material things – it’s about the God who loves His creation, who came to us to demonstrate that love. The sense of the uniqueness of the this season goes beyond cultural, national and ethnic boundaries. Wherever there are those whose hearts have been entered by the Spirit of the Christ, Christmas will continue to be more than trees and lights and wrapped presents; Christmas will be a time of embracing this God of love and His gift of life; a time of gratitude and generosity toward others. No Grinch can steal this memory from hearts that have been touched and transformed by this gift; which is in us light, love, and eternal life from our Creator God.
Welcome to the season of Christmas!
©2011, Marcy Alves
- The Reason for the Season (againstthemain.com)