Christmas has been commercialized: decorations, lights and cards that have little to do with the real meaning of Christmas and can all serve as a distraction from Jesus. Deuteronomy 11:18-20 says that we are to constantly teach children and talk to them about Jesus throughout the whole year and it instructs us to write these things on door frames of your houses. Our homes should be the centre piece of faith development. Christmas time is a time when we should be more intentional so faith is not buried under the wrapping of Christmas. So here are seven thoughts, in no particular order, about how to do this. 1. Be intentional about keeping Jesus centre.
The main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing. Build into your Christmas routine things that intentionally keep Jesus at the centre. Plan both in the time of advent and on Christmas day itself to keep definite signposts to Jesus. You would not have a birthday party where the celebrant is ignored by all, instead they are celebrated by everybody. Give your children an opportunity to celebrate Jesus, that the joy of this season will be inextricably connected to Him.
2. Tell the story In the build up to Christmas read the Bible passages that tell of Jesus’ birth and the prophecies that told of His coming. On Christmas morning read the story, act it out and have fun as a family. You could even go further and work together as a family to prepare costumes for your home-drama. 3. Real fact-finding missionLook into the real facts of the Nativity. For example, most children are surprised there is no innkeeper mentioned in the Bible account. The word inn is the same word for guest room; this same Greek word is used to describe the upper room where the Holy Spirit fell in Pentecost. It is more likely that Mary and Joseph went to stay with some family friends, but the guest room was already taken. Instead they stayed inside the person’s house, where the animals would also be brought in for the night to protect them and add to the warmth inside. 4. Counting down to Christmas
Have a countdown to Christmas. You may tell a Christmas story, light an advent candle or simply get together as a family each day to pray for someone in need. Victoria Beach has a great website called www.godventure.co.uk. There you will find 30 ideas of activities you can do throughout advent as you countdown to the big day. 5. Jesus’ Birthday Cake
Make a birthday cake for Jesus. This could be done at any time, but many families like to do this on Christmas Eve. How will you decorate yours? 6. Reaching out at Christmas time as a family
We need to teach our children that Christmas is a time for giving, not for getting. It is at Christmas time that God loved the world that he gave his only son. It is at Christmas time that we can remember those who are less advantaged than ourselves and will not be sharing all the joys of Christmas.
Be intentional about giving your children an opportunity to give and to love those who are hurting and lost. Encourage them to find ways to help people who are under privileged those who need a little bit of extra love and care. It’s easy at Christmas time for our children to become inward looking as they wait for their presents and all the excitement of the season, let’s help them to look outwards.
Go out and find the local soup kitchen, make little ornaments for people that have gospel messages on it, prepare Christmas boxes to send to overseas missionaries. 7. Drawing on the traditions from other countries Be intentional in reminding our children what Christmas is all about.
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas (St Nick), who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. His wealthy parents, raised him as a Christian, but died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
One story, that may or may not be true, talks about a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant his oldest daughter was then able to get married). The bag fell into a stocking and had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with his second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping the bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man not to tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from St Nicholas.
Be purposeful and intentional in sharing Jesus with and through your children this Christmas. In all the craziness that Christmas brings let’s celebrate who it all about, have fun as a family as we discover new truths about Christmas and be a Deuteronomy 11 led family who keeps Jesus the focus, not just one day of the year, but the whole year round.