Originally posted by Mike Young November 2005
The countdown is on! Only a few more weeks until Christmas…. I don’t know about you and your family, but too many times Stacy and I have gotten through Christmas, finally caught our breath and said “You know, that didn’t seem as spiritual and peaceful as we’d hoped.”
Has that ever happened to you?
Some years ago I was leading an adult Sunday School class at Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church in Stafford Virginia. On the Sunday after Christmas, I laid the scheduled lesson aside and initiated a discussion with the other couples about their families’ celebration of Christ’s birth. We all shared common frustrations. Some were as follows:
- We were really too busy to enjoy the spiritual aspects of Christmas.
- We spent too much money buying gifts for our children who already have more toys than they need.
- We were too captivated by the commercial aspects of Christmas.
- It was difficult to find a quiet time to sit as individuals or families reading and reflecting on God’s gift.
Every year since then, I have thought about that “Christmas Debriefing”. Stacy and I try a little harder each year to keep Christ in Christmas for our family. Unfortunately, Satan also steps up his efforts each year to turn our celebration of Christmas from a Holy day to just another holiday.
Don’t wait until after Christmas to wish you’d turned things around. Be proactive, plan now for a fruitful celebration.
Let me make some suggestions.
Read John 15: 1-2 above. Apply this theory to your celebration. First, if there is a part of your Christmas celebration that produces no spiritual fruit for your family, consider cutting it off. I’m aware that this could be painful but ultimately it will be better. Here’s one thought… Do you drag your family to several family events on Christmas Eve and Day in order to see relatives? Stacy and I started out as young parents doing that. It drained us and the children so we had to cut it out. Our strategy now is to stay put unless there is a local event. We wait until a few days after Christmas to take longer trips. We might not get to see all our relatives on Christmas day but we have a much better attitude about our celebration now. We use the time we would have spent traveling to rest, reflect and rejoice.
Secondly, if there are parts of your Christmas celebration that are fruitful try to make them even better. If your family does a Birthday Party for Jesus, invite an unchurched family in your neighborhood to join. If you normally share baked goods or homemade items with Christian friends, send them a note instead and give your gifts to an unsuspecting family. Use opportunities like this to reinforce with your children the words of the angels who announced Christ’s birth. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 It’s important that we not keep this good news to our circle of friends it is for all the people.
Here’s one more idea. Some friends of ours were burdened by the quantity of gifts they found themselves giving their children so they decided to scale back. Let me warn you that this is against our nature and very difficult. The wise men who visited Jesus some time after his birth brought a total of three gifts. Would you consider giving each child only three gifts? We have trouble with this but we do keep it in mind as we do our planning and shopping. We all love our children and want them to be happy, satisfied and content. Let me challenge you, and me, to invest more thought in our gift giving strategies. Let’s make sure we lavish our children with love in the form of time spent with them on eternal issues rather than toys which will be too soon forgotten. Let me know your reaction to these thoughts. More ideas next week…