Devotional

Keeping Christ in Christmas

A Different Holiday Season

December is here, which means we are full swing into the Christmas season. We desire to keep Christ in Christmas, but all the busyness of the season is upon us and we tend to lose sight of our purpose. We have looked forward to Christmas all year, except that Christmas looks different this year – 2020 – the year of covid, lockdowns, and quarantines.

Christmas just looks different altogether for my family this year. We just moved into a new house and are still trying to settle in. We attend a new church without all the responsibilities of ministry. My husband works long night shifts and I am working part time. Four out of the five kids at home have jobs with varying schedules. And to top it all off, we had to quarantine for two weeks because my husband tested positive for Covid.

In the past, we would have started Christmas program rehearsals in September or October. We would have been planning multiple Christmas parties, organizing Christmas caroling, making treats for nursing home residents, and buying gift exchange presents for school and church. To add to the chaos, the kids would have been running to last-minute rehearsals for orchestra and choir. And we would have been trying to fit in trips to the mall and other retail stores, looking for just the right gifts for friends and family.

This year, because of the covid pandemic, most Christmas activities have been cancelled or at least modified. Most of our shopping is being done online. And the most difficult thing of all is that many people are sick or quarantined and can’t get together to celebrate with family and friends.

Being Intentional

Even though the holiday season looks different for most of us this year, we can still have a happy and blessed time. The extra time we have to relax and be still can be the perfect opportunity to reflect on our habits and motives. It can be a good time to change our focus, to abandon some old habits and start some new traditions. It can be a great time to consider creative ways to reach out to others, as well as to focus more on worship. We have more time to put into keeping Christ in our Christmas activities.

Keeping Christmas focused on Christ is often a challenge, even when many of our activities are church related. We love the food, fun, and fellowship of all the activities. We love to watch the kids perform in their plays and the choirs perform their specials. Yet in the midst of all that seems spiritual, it is easy to lose sight of the true purpose of our celebration.

We must be intentional about focusing on Christ in our families, churches, and personal lives. If we don’t set aside time and have a plan, we will get caught up in the moment and brush Jesus aside for the sake of all the fun.

So, what are some practical ways we can “keep Christ in Christmas”?

Have a Bible reading plan

I have seen many different plans for Bible reading during the month of December. One of the most simple ideas is to read one chapter of Luke each day. By December 24th you will have read the entire book of Luke. Luke presents an account of Jesus’ life from his birth to his death and resurrection. I recommend not just simply reading the book, but keeping a journal of what happens in each chapter and what you learned about Christ in each one. If you are really ambitious, it would be helpful for you to find a commentary or study guide and study it more in depth.

There are also a lot of resources on Google or Pinterest for reading plans, ranging from one verse a day to longer passages. Most of theses include Old Testament Prophecy of the coming Messiah to the actual birth of Christ. Here is a link to the December Bible reading challenge I am using, but there are many more to choose from.

Share the Good News with others

Reach out to friends, neighbors, and others who might not know Christ. Buy Christmas tracts from a reliable source or pick up some from your church. Include one along with a plate of cookies, a Christmas card or with a gift. If you are talented in arts and crafts, create your own gospel presentation to include.

You should also use this time to encourage fellow Christians in the faith. Send cards that focus on Christ. Write letters that not only update everyone on your family, but also reflect on Christ and what he has done for us.

In relation to this, take time to read each card that includes a passage of scripture. If you’re like me, you get a stack of cards in the mail, look at the pretty pictures, see who they’re from, and read through the verses real quick, thinking “Yeah, yeah, what a nice verse”. Then you display it somewhere to look at for the next month. Slow down! (I’m preaching to myself here) Take time to read the verses and reflect on their meaning to you and the entire human race. I suspect it will be life changing!

Go to Church

This seems obvious! After all, even the once or twice-a-year church attenders always make a point to be there for Christmas. I’m not talking about just attending a Christmas Eve candle light service or the big Christmas play. I’m talking about being at every service, every Bible study, every caroling activity, every party that you possibly can. Hang on! I’m not talking about wearing yourself out and packing your schedule. I’m talking about being at church, with God’s people, celebrating together and encouraging one another in Christ.

Keeping Christ in Christmas can be a challenge even at church! One way we can do this is to be intentional about the focus of our conversations during these events. Share the amazing recipe that everyone loved at the party, talk about the new decorations you put up this year, get advice from fellow parents on what present to buy for your teenager. These are all fine topics of conversation. However, make a point to share what Christ has done for you over the past year, what he is teaching you through your Bible reading, or how you are sharing God’s love with others.

Listen to Christ-Centered Music

Since Christmas is about Christ, it only makes sense that we listen to music about Him. There is an abundance of traditional Christmas carols and hymns as well as more recently composed songs that focus on Jesus. In this age of modern technology, it is fairly simple to create a playlist of your favorite songs and stream them from your phone or computer. If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your kids or grandkids! They will know what to do!

Now don’t get me wrong, my family loves fun Christmas songs. Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like “Sleigh Ride,” “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Feliz Navidad”, or “White Christmas”. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying fun, wholesome music. However, if your entire listening experience is secular, fun songs, you are not keeping Christ the center. Set aside some time for the fun songs, but keep a playlist of solid Christ-centered songs that will cause you to focus on Him and what his coming to earth means to us.

Reach Out to Others

One year when my kids were younger we made plates of Christmas cookies and went Christmas caroling as a family. We sang to several older folks in our church. It was not a church sponsored activity and no one knew we were coming. That was one of the most fun and rewarding Christmas activities we ever did as a family. Most of the folks invited us in to visit, showed us their special Christmas ornaments or talked about their Christmas plans. It was a blessing to get to visit with folks who knew us, but we normally didn’t get to visit with. And of course they always love to see the kids!

If you aren’t so inclined to go caroling, there are many other creative ways to reach out. You could go shopping for a needy family and drop off the presents either secretly or in person. Invite an individual or family over for a meal. Volunteer at a food pantry, soup kitchen, Salvation Army kettle ringing, or any other local charity. Doing these things as a family is a great way to teach our kids about giving and reaching out to others.

Show Christ in Your Decorating

Decorate you tree and house in a way that focuses on Jesus. Nativity scenes come in all sizes and styles and are a great way to remind us of why we are celebrating. Signs with verses or words that are associated with Jesus’ birth are easy to find in stores. Placing a star or angel on top of your tree is a good reminder of the Christmas story. Talking about the significance of these symbols with your kids and grandkids as you decorate will help teach them and keep them focused on Jesus as well.

Pray

Make it a goal (and I’m preaching to myself again!) to pray every day. Thank God for sending His son Jesus to earth. Thank Him for coming to die to pay for our sins and for saving you. Ask Him to continue to teach you more about Himself and reveal truths about himself that you have yet to learn. Ask God to show you opportunities to reach out to others, to love and serve and be a blessing.

Conclusion

“Keep Christ in Christmas” sometimes feel like a silly cliché that we like to use at this time of year. It is easy to dismiss the saying as just another meme that folks pass around social media. However, if we truly evaluate our hearts and lives, we will realize that we all need to heed the saying. Society tells us that we need bigger and better decorations, more expensive presents, and lots of food and activities to make the season merry. While these things can be fun and relaxing, the reality is that all we really need is Jesus!

Let’s use this covid year to turn our focus back to Christ. Many people are sick, suffering, and hurting. Many from covid related issues and many from life in general. Sometime the holidays aren’t merry and jolly, but we can have true joy in the midst of it all when Jesus really is the reason we celebrate.

Wife, mom, grandma, and country girl. I am living by faith and encouraging others to do the same. I integrate faith, family and country living.

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