Christmas is a joyous, bright, heartwarming, miraculous season. It is a time to dwell on the miracle of Christ’s birth and delight in the warmth of family. However, Christmas is also a hustling, bustling time of year, and as a young mother, I found that my tendency was to hustle and bustle my children off…to their rooms, to Grandma’s, outside—anywhere but where I was so that I could take care of the profusion of additional chores that accompany the season. There were other things to juggle at Christmas too—school, soccer, carpool, even having to cook every night! Things that normally fit comfortably into our daily lives became major projects in December. But in my diligence to accomplish all of these responsibilities, I had completely missed the point! This was a time for us to work together, to play together, to celebrate and laugh together.
Christmas has long been called a season for children. But I had become so involved in the busyness that the children were set aside. I found myself so busy with doing things for them (buying gifts, planning surprises) that I wasn’t spending time with them in giving, in baking, in decorating, in wrapping, and in teaching them about the miracle of Christmas.
My story has a happy ending! As I stepped away from the “urgent” and took a good look at the “important,” I realized that what I really wanted was to give my children their first taste of what Jesus’ coming really meant. I wanted to be the one who explained to them the story of salvation incorporated within the Christmas celebration. I wanted them to begin to understand the eons of time that had passed since God had promised Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would come to bruise the serpent’s head and He would redeem us back to Himself. I wanted them to get a grasp of the centuries under a law that no one could possible fulfill; the darkness and futility of a life without God’s continuous presence. And I wanted them to sense the joy of that first Christmas when the world of sin, darkness, and futility burst the Son of God, the Light of the world, the Redeember, God with us…Jesus.
Yet these things cannot merely be spoken. They have to be lived and breathed. One way to do that is to fill every Christmastime with so much joy and meaning that it becomes a natural part of a child’s life, because it is a natural part of our family!
For many people life in Jesus and joy are mutually exclusive. “Joy” is suspect because life in the love of God is reduced to rules and spiritless service. But “joy to the world” was God’s idea. He said that spirituality and joy were supposed to go together! Scripture tells us that we are to “serve the Lord with joy and gladness of heart” (Deut. 28:47), that His joy will fill us with strength to accomplish what He has set before us (Neh. 8:10), and that “in His presence is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11).
For me, the blending of these two aspects of Christmas are best summed up in a song:
Jack W. Hayford
Hang the lights, come and string the berries,
Make another ornament to trim the tree.
Have a bite of chocolate cherry,
Pour another cup of Mamma’s Christmas tea.
Candles, holly, crèche, and angels,
Bells, and balls, and mistletoe.
Holy homes needn’t be unmerry,
Jesus and His coming fill our hearts with glee.
Buy a goose, plan a feast that’s dandy,
Bake a dozen pies and make the pudding plum.
Candied yams, buttered rolls, and chutney
Overflow the table with the best “yum-yums.”
Sugar cookies, brandied fruitcakes,
Sticks of peppermint and gum.
Holy homes filled with bowls of candy,
Honoring the sweetest Babe that e’re did come.
Come and kneel now, beside the tree now,
Let us open presents we have wrapped in love.
But while kneeling, a holy feeling,
Overflows our hearts with praise to God above.
His the gift that makes our Christmas,
Jesus, Savior of mankind.
Holy homes know He’s made us free now,
Free to live in life, and free to live in love.
© 1983 Annamarie Music, Admin. by Maranatha! Music
All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used by permission.
As you ask the Lord to fill your home with holiness and happiness this Christmas, may this book help you to make a spiritual, practical, and emotional investment into the lives God has entrusted to your care.
When God first made people, the Bible says that He made them “in His image”! That doesn’t mean that if we could see Adam and Eve we would know exactly what God looks like. But it does mean that He made us to be like Him; He made us holy.
A lot of people think that being holy means you have to be perfect and never make a mistake. But holy actually comes from the same word as whole. To be holy means that God made us complete.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were no longer complete because their hearts had become broken by sin. God, who is complete, could no longer have companionship with them because their sin had made them incomplete. But God had a plan! He planned to send His Son, Jesus, to earth so that He could take our sin upon Himself and we could once again be able to live in companionship with God.
This month, as you read through this book, we’re going to be learning about God’s great love gift to us—Jesus. First we’ll be talking about the events that happened around Jesus’ birth. We want to have a clear picture of all the things that happened leading to Jesus’ birth, and how God brought about the miracle of our salvation.
Then, we’re going to be talking about how our celebration shows us a picture of Jesus. Did you know that many of the things we do to celebrate Christmas teach us things about the Lord?
Finally, we’ll be learning about some of Jesus’ names and titles. The Bible lists many different names for Jesus—kind of like nicknames. Learning about these names helps us understand why Jesus had to come and why we needed saving.
As you learn about the beliefs behind our celebration, remember that Christmas began in heaven! God loved us first!
Before we ever knew Him, before we ever heard of Him, actually, even before we were ever born—He loved us and had a plan to bring us into fellowship with Him. The Bible says, “Here is a matchless love, not that we chose to love God, but that He chose to love us and sent His Son to save us” (1 John 4:10).
You may want to begin this Christmas season by preparing an Advent calendar with your children. If so, this is the day to begin!
Advent calendars are an exciting way for children to actually see the countdown to Christmas. It builds anticipation, and as they get a little older and understand how a calendar works, it can even help cut down on the number of times you’re asked, “How many more days until Christmas?”
There are lots of ways to have an Advent calendar. One fun idea might be to make or purchase an inexpensive manger scene and arrange a table-top display where you can add a new figure each day as you read through this book with your family. Begin by creating a stable out of a shoe box covered with wood-look paper. You could use the following figures on the days indicated:
In this way, you can make this Advent a time of joyful anticipation for your family.
Are you going out of town sometime during the holidays? Hotel and airline reservations should have been finalized by Thanksgiving weekend. If you have not yet completed your arrangements, finish them today.