Seeking and Celebrating the Real Meaning of Christmas
Entering a large grocery store a couple of months ago, I was startled by several large displays near the checkouts and exits.
There, nestled in between the bins of fresh Halloween treats, were stacks of boxed Christmas chocolates and stocking stuffers.
The Christmas season had begun and it wasn’t even October.
Sometimes it seems that the gap between Christmas and the rest of the year is getting shorter. This eagerness to get a jump on holiday cheer is purely practical from a retailer’s point of view: Stores typically make more than half of their yearly sales during these few short weeks. Shopping has become a pretty substantial part of the North American Christmas tradition.
Yet Christmas is and should be so much more than what we buy. Gifts are fun, both to give and receive, but they are only symbolic of a much greater gift:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The love of God came down to earth – now that is something to celebrate!
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the busyness of Christmas. That doesn’t mean we have to lose track of the significance of this time of year, or miss out on the opportunities it can present.
Here are some simple ways
that you can incorporate the real meaning of Christmas into your family’s holiday:
A Savior Has Been Born to You
Throw a birthday party for Jesus, complete with birthday cake. This can be particularly meaningful for younger children, as it puts Christ’s birth in a context they can relate to.
No Room in the Inn
A favorite Christmas tradition in my family (and in many other families, I have discovered) is a re-enactment of the Christmas story. Several years ago I wrote a formal nativity script for our family. Everyone was assigned a part, from Grandma and Grandpa right down to the newest, three-month-old grandchild. It was wonderful to watch each person – particularly the little ones – begin to explore what the character they were playing might have been like, or how they felt about the arrival of the baby Jesus. Our family has refined our dramatic tradition to include a creative element: Fifteen minutes to make your own costume from anything you can find in the house (or attic/basement).
Glory to God in the Highest
I come from a musical family, so music has always been a big part of our Christmas celebrations. But you don’t have to be a musician to celebrate the birth of the Savior through Christmas carols, or to share with others the good news of His redeeming love. Gather friends and family and go caroling in a wing at your local hospital or seniors’ residence. Check with your church or other local churches to see if there are any folks who can’t get out of their homes during the holidays and take your caroling to them. Music is a great way to open a door for talking with people about the spiritual context of the holiday season.
Good Will Toward Men
Gift giving is a wonderful way to reflect to each other, God’s love for us. This seems particularly true when we are giving of our time and gifts to those in need. Here are just a few examples:
- Volunteer together (include the grandkids!) – to pack toys and food into hampers that will be delivered to needy families before Christmas or to serve Christmas dinner to the homeless at a downtown mission
- Forgo traditional Christmas gifts – make a donation in someone’s name rather than giving that person a gift; take a child out to eat at their favorite restaurant and then take them to the toy store where they can choose a gift…for a less fortunate child; band together with friends you might normally buy gifts for and pool your resources instead to help a family in need or support a favorite cause.
Good News of Great Joy…
…for all people – Christmas is a time of unusual openness to spiritual things. Jesus is on everyone’s lips, whether they know Him or not. There is no greater gift you can give those who have not yet met the Lord than to share with them the good news of the real Christmas. Here are some ideas:
- Invite your loved ones to church – many churches go to great lengths when they plan Christmas services, to reach those who do not yet know Christ. Perhaps there is a musical or play that dramatizes Christ’s birth and the meaning of His coming, or a special Christmas carol service. These are not only a great way to spend time celebrating God’s grace with the people you care about during the holidays, but a wonderful beginning for a conversation about their spiritual beliefs.
- Invest in some literature (booklets, pamphlets or tracts that convey Christmas greetings in addition to the message of the gospel) – these are a wonderful way to share Christ with someone, particularly if you fear that you “won’t know what to say.” Hand these out to your neighbors with holiday baking or chocolates, pass them on to guests you have invited to your church Christmas play, or share them with carolers when you invite them in for hot chocolate.
Enjoy all the good things Christmas has to offer this year as you celebrate the reason for the season:
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
If you don’t know Jesus as your King and Savior, you can start a relationship with him today by simply surrendering your heart to him. Here is a sample prayer.
Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I surrender my soul and open the door of my life to You and ask You to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Bring peace to my world this Christmas. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
If you let us know you said this prayer, after you press SUBMIT some links will show up that you may find helpful.
by RuthAnn Raycroft
~ RuthAnn Raycroft has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Cardiff University in Wales. She is the Publications and Communications Manager for the Society of Christian Schools in BC and continues to work as a freelance writer.