Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time for Christmas

As I have been writing and going through the "Being Intentional Challenge" (we are on week 3), I have been encouraged be intentional in different areas to focus on the important people and things in my life. I hope you find some practical tips for being more intentional this Christmas season in this post, and things to incorporate into your family holiday traditions.

Every year, it seems like it's a challenge to remember the "reason for the season." That sounds so cliche, and we hear it so much every year, but what does it really mean? How do we know if we remembered Christ more than we celebrated the culture's worship of material things, the obsession with the perfect family get-together, getting everything checked off the master Christmas to-do list, and finishing all our Christmas crafts and baking? It's hard to tell, and it's different for everyone. I don't think there's one pat answer that will satisfy that question, and I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with celebrating the holidays with baking, crafts, get-togethers, and presents.
I have come to really like the tradition of Advent because it is the month long remembrance of Christ, daily digging into His Word and setting time aside to read the Word, not just on Christmas day, but all throughout the season.
If you don't know anything about Advent I would encourage you to read about it here. This is a great informative read on the history and celebration of Advent. I would especially encourage you to read under the heading "Celebrating Advent" for some practical ways to include your children in worshiping God and setting aside time during this busy season to focus on Christ.
Our church, New Life Community Church (Lakeview location), chose to celebrate Advent this year with a special reading each Sunday during service with the lighting of a candle, and they gave out some Advent Scripture readings for the entire 4 weeks to read at home. They encouraged us to light a candle each night, to be quiet, silence our homes, and do our Advent reading and really intentionally focus on the season. I like this more than just reading Luke 2 on Christmas morning before we open gifts, because it is a daily shift in our thinking, busy lives, running around, and getting things done. I will include the whole Advent season's Scripture readings, even though we are about 2 weeks in.

First Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, November 28
Sunday: Romans 13:11-14
Monday: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Tuesday: Mark 13:33-37
Wednesday: John 1:1-5
Thursday: John 1:6-9
Friday: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Saturday: Isaiah 60:19-22

Second Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, December 5
Sunday: Romans 15:4-13
Monday: Psalm 43:3-6
Tuesday: Psalm 27:1-4
Wednesday: Psalm 119:105-106
Thursday: John 12:35-36
Friday: Ephesians 5:6-14
Saturday: 1 Peter 2:5-9

Third Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, December 12
Sunday: Isaiah 60:1-3
Monday: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Tuesday: 1 John 1:4-7
Wednesday: John 3:16-21
Thursday: Isaiah 40:1-11
Friday: John 9:1-7
Saturday: Luke 3:1-6

Fourth Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, December 19
Sunday: Isaiah 11:1-10
Monday: Zephaniah 3:14-17
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: Luke 2:8-20
Thursday: Matthew 4:14-16
Friday: Isaiah 2:1-5
Saturday: Luke 2:25-33

In Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas, Sharon Jaymes reinterprets 1 Corinthians 13 with the following:
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away int he kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

If all our busy striving leaves us empty, angry, exhausted, spent (literally), and proud then that's a pretty good indication that we have missed the point. We should each look inside ourselves this Christmas and examine our own hearts. Ask God to show you where you could make some changes, set aside some more time, and serve others this Christmas. Start some new traditions in your family that include serving others through giving your time, money, or material things to help those in need.
One idea is each year to give your children a specific dollar amount that is to be spent on someone else less fortunate, and as they get older, let them choose what they would like to do. Or have your young children choose one thing from their toybox that they would like to give to someone who couldn't afford toys for Christmas. Or participate in Operation Christmas Child by building a box for those in need. You can volunteer at a shelter or food pantry as a family to serve together.
I would just encourage you to think outside the box. Get uncomfortable. Do something that isn't the most "fun" or "Christmassy" but will make a difference in someone else's life. Let's teach our children that Christmas isn't a time to get all our wants satisfied. It's not all about "me." It's about Christ being born, and it's a time to model Christ to our dying world by serving them out of our abundance, even if we feel like we don't have a lot to give.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to let this Christmas pass me by to direct my children to worship our Savior, and to think of others. Let's glorify God this season!!!

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Thank you for your post and also for the 1 Corinthians reinterpretation. I couldn't agree with you more. The time we show loving Christ and our family is the best investment we can make this season. Though my girls are all "grown-up" now, I do not for one minute regret spending time with them, being a SAHM and loving them every moment I had. I pray for The Lord to bless you this Christmas. You are precious! Press on!!!