How to Keep Christ in the Present at Christmas
Thanksgiving and Black Friday are behind us, and we are heading full steam into the Christmas season. I’m sure your lists are long, and there are a ton of things you think you need to do, but what if you chose to trim your lists so you could embrace the season joyfully, instead of tired and grudgingly?
We put so much pressure on ourselves and our families to decorate, cook, bake, give, do and try to outdo the previous year. Why do we do this to ourselves? The truth is there is a little bit of the world in all of us. We are told that Christmas is a magical time. However, there is no magician’s wand that makes everything happen. We become deluded and miss the real meaning of Christmas if we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of making Christmas perfect in the material sense.
The world no longer wants us to sing the Christmas Carols of the past such as “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World” because their message proclaims the birth of Jesus Christ. Cities and towns no longer allow nativity scenes on public grounds because of the fear of lawsuits or offending someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. I don’t believe in Santa, yet you see Santa on public grounds, in parades, and at the mall. I’m not a Scrooge by any means, but every year it becomes more obvious the world wants less and less of the true meaning of Christmas, which is to celebrate the birth of our Christ, our Messiah.
Christmas has become so commercialized in making children and adults believe if they don’t receive the latest toy or gadget their lives will never be the same. The cost of Christmas reaches far deeper than in your pockets. The cost of the world’s Christmas is discontentment. The pressure of the world’s Christmas can cripple you physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. What started out being the most magnificent night has become a nightmare for many. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. None of us have to shackle ourselves to the world’s version of a perfect Christmas.
Christmas is a celebration of the gift of a baby born to a virgin mother, a baby who would bring everlasting life to all. Jesus is God’s redeeming love that reached down from heaven to our hearts. His birth was a prophecy fulfilled, and the promise of love, hope, and redemption for eternity. Jesus is the true meaning of Christmas.
To keep the message of Christ at the center of Christmas, we have to be proactive in guarding our hearts against the world’s version of Christmas of “Buy More, Get More!” Here are some ways we can keep the message of Christ at the center of Christmas.
Get Out the Calendar: Decide what you can do and what you can’t do to keep the focus on Christmas more meaningful for you and your family. During the holidays there are lots of extras you can do but decide ahead of time which opportunities you’d like to take advantage of and put them on your calendar. It doesn’t mean there isn’t room for change, but being aware of upcoming events helps to minimize the chaos. It is okay to say “No” to an invitation. Sometimes “No” needs to be said for the sanity of everyone.
Start with Advent: Advent is preparing your heart for the celebration of Christmas. Set aside time each night to delve into God’s word. There are many free Advent devotionals you can find online for individuals or families and in the Bible app called YouVersion. Take time to prepare your heart for the birth of Messiah.
Memorize the Christmas Story from Luke 2:1-11: My daughter was four years old when she memorized this whole scripture. It is something she still remembers today. When you hide the word in your heart, the message becomes more significant. It is fun to see how much you can remember. The kids will love the challenge especially if there is a reward to earn.
Volunteer: Choose a place where you or your family and friends can volunteer to make a difference in other people’s lives, as Christ has made a difference in your life. It is a great way to expose your children to the beauty of serving and giving back to others. Christmas is about giving and demonstrating the love of Christ. When we become a reflection of God’s love, it ignites like a wildfire to all those around us.
Give Gifts with Purpose: Many organizations sell things which give back to others in need. For example, Global Girlfriends allows you buy products at a fair trade price to support woman artisans, and they also have a “Gifts That Give More” program where 100% of the price of your purchase goes directly to charity. Samaritan’s Purse, IJM, and World Vision have similar programs or choose a charity that has made an impact for you. Make a conscious decision to give gifts that also give back to others.
Invite a Friend or Family to Attend a Christmas Service: Statistics show asking someone to attend a church service at Christmas gives the highest probability of the entire year that the person will say “Yes!” In this recent article http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/2014/12/christmas-church-attendance-rocks/ there are some interesting facts to consider, but what better gift to give anyone than the gift of Christ for Christmas.
We all love to give and receive gifts, but should that make Christmas more meaningful than the celebration of Jesus’ birth? I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts to one another, because I love to give and receive gifts, but don’t let gift giving become a distraction from celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
How do you keep a Christ-Centered Christmas in your heart and home? I would love to hear your ideas!
The Christmas season is a time of remembrance and reflection on the perfect gift given to us over two thousand years ago. Don’t let the world sell out the real meaning of Christmas, but show the world the priceless gift that is still as precious as ever by keeping the true message of Christmas within your heart.