Christmas truly is a special time. I think it’s the best time…. a time to build memories and traditions with loved ones. I think back to many of the Christmas traditions my family had as I grew up, such as putting up the Christmas decorations, the tree and the lights as a family during the Thanksgiving break, driving around with some of our favorite friends and family with hot chocolate and snacks looking at the Christmas lights, and listening to classic Christmas songs. My brother and I would wait impatiently and expectantly as my cousins came to visit, with a car full of gifts. My amazing Grandfather always insisted that the oldest person (himself) opened their presents first. I remember waking up my Mom and Dad at the crack of dawn to begin the amazing journey of opening all the gifts, not realizing they had stayed up late assembling the new bikes and other toys. I remember my favorite gift ever! It was Castle Grey Skull from the cartoon He-Man.
Family traditions and memories are great. But at the risk of sounding cliché, the memories that stick out to me the most are the ones that had to do with focusing on Christ and others. My family would go to the John 3:16 mission in Tulsa to give food and clothes to the homeless. I remember picking out gifts for kids in the community who would not have received gifts otherwise through the Christmas Angel Tree program, or putting together a box for Operation Christmas Child. The best memory I have of the holiday season and celebrating Christ’s birth, was when we were all around the tree foaming at the mouth ready to open our presents and Dad would read the Christmas story from his worn Bible. We would pray, thanking God for Jesus, the greatest gift of all just as Luke 2 says,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Even during the years our family lived in India we would wake up on Christmas morning, while it was still Christmas Eve in America and my Dad would read the Christmas story from his worn out Bible on Skype. My parents were always using the holiday season to invite people to church or to discuss the role Jesus plays in our lives.
A lot has changed since then. The world, motivated by fear and the need to always be politically correct, has decided that it might be better to not celebrate Christ during Christmas. Instead, many have decided to celebrate each other and materialism for a happy holiday season. We know that happiness in things will only last so long.
I would love for us to really take this opportunity to have a few traditions in our families and communities to make sure we can connect the holiday season with Christ. I would encourage us to start in the home.
Is there a celebration of Jesus in your home before you celebrate the gifts you have received? Take some time to read Luke 2. You can read the whole chapter or just the first 21 verses.
Parents, Christmas Eve or morning would be a great time to tell your kids how you came to put your trust in Jesus as Savior. Simply tell a little about your life before you knew Jesus, then who Jesus is and how you came to trust him, and how he has impacted your life.
You could also share some of the biggest answered prayers that Jesus has done for you and your family in 2016. This is a great way to show your relationship with Jesus is an ever growing relationship.
One of my favorite passages to read during Christmas is Philippians 2:4-11
It’s not often used as a Christmas passage but it is amazing. It talks about Jesus leaving Heaven and being born a human and humbling himself to death on the cross. You could ask your children some great questions such as, what do you think it must have been like for Jesus to give up everything, why do you think he gave up heaven? These can be questions to guide you and your family to see that Jesus left heaven because he loved God and wanted to be obedient to the Father and he loves us.
It’s not too late. You can get connected with a few Christ-centered, non-profits in the community and you and your whole family can give and serve sacrificially just as Christ did as he gave us eternal life.
Love INC in Cedar valley has a great opportunity to serve and give
Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley
It would be great if we had a few questions in our “pockets” to ask those around us so we can engage in meaningful conversations that allow us to identify Christ in our lives and the meaning of Christmas for us.
I would encourage you and your family to identify a few people around you whether its people you know at work or in your neighborhood or parents of your kids friends, and just start a dialogue with them.
Feel free to ask them a few questions like:
- What are some of the traditions you and your family do over Christmas or did while you were growing up? Be prepared to tell them about some of the traditions you have had or are developing right now to make Christ at the center of Christmas andhow you want to honor him this season.
- Another question could be what’s the greatest gift you ever received at Christmas? You’re bound to get some great answers and as you answer one
or two things that you loved, you can then transition to the greatest gift ever…..Christ, his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection, allowing your relationship with God to be restored!
- You could also simply ask “ What is the meaning of Christmas for you and your family?” You can then answer what the meaning of Christmas means for you and your family and you can discuss the great love of Jesus.
During this season, there are a lot of things to focus on and do, a lot of traditions and memories to be built. I hope and pray that we develop traditions that keep Christ in our lives and allow us to bring Him to others.