Celebrating Christ-centred Christmas as a family

The Most Wonderful Time
Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
What’s not to love? Trees. Lights. Decorations. Cards. Feasts. Family. Vacation. Traditions. Presents!
To truly understand Christmas, really for anyone, it takes a little explaining.
They are probably familiar with it, and your neighbors probably are too, but I want you to consider that most of us, like it or not, are so used to the consumerist Santa-centric celebrations that a distinctly Christian celebration—a truly Christ-centered holiday season—could be a real shift from what they expect. And it would be greater in all the best ways!
There are some questions you’d ask if you weren’t so familiar with the holiday—questions with answers that have eternal implications.
Why is there a tree in the living room?
Why are there lights in the yard? Why are people knocking on doors to sing to strangers?
Christmas may not be your favorite holiday, but for a Christian family, it is a significant annual opportunity to disciple as you celebrate the incarnation of Christ.
Here are seven tips on how to do that well.
1. Tie EVERYTHING back to Jesus.
Christmas is a season of low hanging fruit for the family who is eager to talk about Jesus and to follow him together.
Why do we put up lights?
Because Jesus, the light of the world, came into the darkness of this world.
I Am the Light of the World
JOHN 8:12:
[12] Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
After Jesus went up to heaven,
now He calls us the light of the world. We don’t hide that we follow Jesus. We want it to be as obvious as a string of lights on our home.
MATTHEW 5:14-15:
[14] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
[15] Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Why do we give gifts?
Because Jesus’s life was the greatest gift humanity has ever received.
JOHN 3:16:
[16] “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Nothing more generous has ever happened and now eternal life is free to those who trust him.
JOHN 15:13:
[13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus is the greatest gift that we ever received for our life!
What should we do with these Christmas cards?
We pray for our family and friends who send them to us.
Why do we decorate with wreaths and trees?
Because evergreens in winter remind us of the perseverance of life in Christ. We live forever.
JOHN 10:9:
[9] I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The LORD Is My Shepherd
PSALM 23:1-3:
[1] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[2] He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
[3] He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Why does our culture love Santa instead of Jesus?
Because our neighbors love to think that they would get rewarded for good behavior with what they want, but we know that what is truly great comes to us without having earned it.
If it were up to us to earn the salvation we needed, if we had to be nice enough to get God’s favor, no one would get it because no one is perfect except Christ.
[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
[9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
There are endless nuggets of truth that are available to the parent who is ready to disciple their family.
Tie every aspect of Christmas back to Jesus.
The opportunities are all around you.
2. Start four weeks early!
Christians have a whole season leading up to Christmas called Advent. You might have grown up in a church that practiced this, but if you didn’t, Advent is a great opportunity to lead your family in considering the waiting of humanity for Christ to be born.
HEBREWS 1:1-2:
[1] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
[2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
LUKE 2:10-11:
[10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
It is also a great season to teach how we now are waiting for Christ to come back again.
ACTS 1:10-11:
[10] And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
[11] and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
There are a lot of Advent resources available. There are calendars and devotionals and various Advent themed story books all designed to help your family consider what it means to wait on the Lord and be ready for his coming again.
3. Make it memorable.
In gift giving, if it really is the thought that counts, then be thoughtful.
Giving just a little bit of time to being creative can turn a holiday that would otherwise sneak up on you into a memory making machine.
Gifts can be great.
They can bring joy.
But how quickly do most of us forget what we got?
Maybe this year you can consider what kind of family shared experiences you want to design instead of what kind of stuff you want to own or give away.
In the long run, a shared adventure may be better for your family than the momentary joy of opening a wrapped surprise.
What really brings your family joy? What does each individual love? How can you use your words and your ability to plan something that delights to create a Christmas experience they’ll never forget?
This could be a holiday you’ll tell stories about for years to come. What game could you play?
What adventure could you go on? What place would be special to you?
Consider how you might surprise and serve your family with just a little bit of planning to make this Christmas special.
LUKE 2:10-11
[10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Jesus is the best and eternal gift than we can give to our beloved family and friends
4. Confront consumerism.
Do not make Christmas about getting presents. It is worth repeating, do not let Christmas in your house be about getting presents! If shopping is the priority and “getting” is the goal, then you’ll miss an opportunity to do what Christ trained his disciples to do.
Be counter cultural in the most generous and godly ways.
The incarnation of Jesus should be the center of what we are doing.
God did not send his Son so that we’d have an excuse to make a list of the things we want.
Jesus was not born poor to a dejected and oppressed people so that we could have a reason to celebrate our lack of poverty.
Maybe this year consider what you might say or write to someone in your family as a gift.
What are you praying for your family and how could you share that vision with them?
How could you keep what’s under the tree from being the highlight?
Your family’s identity is not in being a consumer, it is in being a committed follower of Christ.

Tie every aspect of Christmas back to Jesus. The opportunities are all around you.


Consider what you might hand down and bestow as a rite of passage or a new responsibility instead of a toy or video game whose only purpose is entertainment.
Help move the ball down the field on your spiritual leadership this Christmas instead of making cheap thrills the centerpiece.
5. Remember the forgotten people.
Sometimes on holidays our family will take treats to those people who are working to serve and are therefore away from their families. We’ve taken meals up to the hospital to give to nurses and brownies to our local police station to thank them for their sacrifice to serve our family.
We also seek out members of our church who don’t have family nearby and make sure they know they are welcome to join our family for part of our Christmas holiday.
MATTHEW 25:42-46:
[42] For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
[43] I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
[44] Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
[45] Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
[46] And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
You would probably be surprised by how many of your neighbors don’t have holiday plans.
Think especially about the lonely aging in your community.
My family has gone caroling room to room in a local assisted living center. Many local homes for the aging offer opportunities for volunteers to visit, to play games, or to help serve the residents and employees in other ways.
6. Bury your hatchets.
Christmas is a great time to work on reconciling with family members.
Whether it is a time of repentance needed in your immediate family or a conversation with distant relatives with whom you’ve had conflict, Christmas is the perfect time to give the gift of forgiveness or ask to receive it yourself.
Everyone’s family has its own unique brand of dysfunction.
Let a time of focus on Christ be when you demonstrate that we want to have our transgressions forgiven as we forgive those who transgress against us.
MATHEW 6:12:
[12] and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
LUKE 6:35-36:
[35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
[36] Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
7. Read, share, sing, pray!
In the home I grew up in, we always read Luke chapter 2 before praying and opening our presents. While I hope that reading the Scriptures, singing, and praying are a part of the regular rhythm for your family, holidays are a special occasion for family discipleship.
You don’t have to prepare a living room live nativity with goats and camels penned up in the kitchen, but you can think of easy ways to make this a more special version of your family’s regular devotional life.
Consider singing a Christmas hymn together or asking some deeper theological questions than usual. We’ve met some of our neighbors by going door to door and caroling together.
It’s a sweet Christian tradition and really not hard.
The Shepherds and the Angels
LUKE 2:8-14:
[8] And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
[10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
[12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
[14] “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Like most of these tips, it takes just a little bit of intentionality to make Christmas a memorable, Christ-centered season. It’s the thought that makes the difference. Honor God with your efforts! Amen
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