I love the sights, sounds, colors, and tastes of Christmas. I enjoy the gifts, decorations, and delicacies unique to December just as much as anyone.
But perhaps I love them too much; maybe I love this month for all the wrong reasons.
Have you noticed that the entire message of this season has become about acquiring created stuff? How sad: the glory of Christmas is that the Creator himself becomes a man, to rescue us from our bondage to the creation!
Yet here we are, celebrating Christmas in a way that reveals our hearts are still prone to worship the creation. We’ve turned the message of Christmas on its head.
This is precisely why we need the daily rescue of the Savior.
So, here are some practical tips to help you and your family re-focus your attention on the real reason we should celebrate Christmas: the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Start early. You can’t start early enough or tell the Christmas story often enough. Consumerism and self-centeredness have been preached at us for months already. Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to talk about our need for the birth of Christ.
Stay focused. Your calendar will be loaded with exciting activities and parties this month. Enjoy them, but before you know it, a week could fly past and you may have neglected to meditate on Christ entirely. Be quick to return to the gospel story at every opportunity, every day.
Read Christmas-related Scripture. The Tripp family used to memorize and recite Luke 2 together every Christmas. This burned into our brains the beauty of the coming of Jesus as our Savior. Don’t forget Old Testament passages that point to the arrival of Christ, too.
Go and see a performance of Handel’s Messiah. There is no single piece of music that more powerfully demonstrates the need for Jesus to come, how he came, and the results in our lives. I have been going since I was a little boy, and I can’t recommend a better annual tradition to remember the beauty and glory of the coming of Jesus than this.
Emphasize the spiritual over the material. Look for opportunities to embed the Advent story everywhere. Two metaphors that you can use are:
- Gifts: While shopping for, requesting, and giving gifts, remember that Christmas is about one Gift. But on the first Christmas, something radical happened: The Gift was the Giver.
- Decorations: While decorating, remember that we will always be tempted to decorate our lives with beautiful things that we hope will satisfy us. Christmas is about the birth of the only One who can fulfill our longing hearts.
Identify someone lonely. The birth of Christ is the ultimate solution to the loneliness that began in the Garden of Eden. Jesus came because God cares about lonely people, and so should we. Find opportunities to give lonely people gifts—not merely physical items, but the gift of your time, presence, and encouragement.
May the glorious gospel that is preached to you in the birth of Jesus be the gospel that you preach to yourself and your family this month.
If it is, then this Christmas will be rich in spiritual blessings!
1. How can you stay focused on Christ this December? What can you build into your calendar or routine to regularly meditate on Advent?
2. Identify a few recent examples when culture or media preached a false Christmas narrative to you. Why is this false narrative tempting to believe?
3. What evidence have you displayed recently that exposes that your heart is still prone to worship the creation? Are you trying to decorate your life with things that cannot satisfy? Be specific.
4. How can you enjoy beautiful created things without having them rule your heart? Be practical in your response.
5. Who do you know who is lonely or isolated this Christmas? How can you reach out and show the love of Christ?