Remember the good old days, when department stores came alive at Christmas with Christ centered songs, such as “Joy to the World” and “Away in a Manger”? When strangers smiled? When the world seemed a nicer place?
Unfortunately, we’ve become so ingrained in the trappings of the season, that Jesus, the reason, can be woefully neglected. Seriously, does X-mas give you that believing-feeling?
How about taking a slow-down this Christmas season – from shopping, wrapping, baking, checking lists twice – to start meaningful family traditions that honor the birth of Jesus?
Here are helpful tips:
Celebrate the Birth of Christ
Christmas is a religious holiday commemorating the birth of baby Jesus. Why not celebrate with the story of the first Christmas and birthday cake for Christ?
Earmark a certain time to read Bible story of Christ’s birth, found in Matthew 1:18-23 and/or Luke 2:1-20. Note: if you have small children, you want to substitute the Children’s Bible.
Prepare a birthday cake for Jesus.
First, read the Christmas story. Tie today’s tradition of gift giving at Christmas with gifts the Magi gave Baby Jesus. Talk to your kids about potential gifts for Jesus (doing good things in Jesus’ name, showing love to a challenging person, kindness to others, etc.).
Light the candles and sing Happy Birthday to Christ. Blow the candles out as a family unit.
Pray. Eat cake. Enjoy.
Attending Christmas church services, is an auspicious way to reinvigorate your commitment to keep Christ at the center of Christmas. Beautiful midnight candlelight services commemorate the birth of Jesus. In total darkness, candles are lit one-by-one, until a heavenly glow lights up the room.
Christ-centered Movie Night
Take a much needed slow down to see a movie that puts the focus on Christ at Christmas. It’s unfortunate that many popular Christmas movies don’t even feature a cameo of Christ.
Go ahead – pop the corn, make hot cocoa – we’ve found some great ones:
The Nativity Story is a true depiction of the biblical version.
Chasing the Star is about difficulties the Magi Priests faced on their desert journey.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a must-see every year.
Explore the Nativity Scene
Did you know that St. Francis of Assisi fashioned the first nativity scene, aka creche in 1223? His intention was to divert people from the practice of giving material gifts, instead keeping Christ as the center of Christmas.
So, even centuries ago, people were becoming more self-centered and less Christ-centered. Exploring the figures in the nativity display, is one of the more enriching and rewarding Christmas traditions.
So, in the days leading to Christmas, research and discuss items of a typical creche, including the stable, Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, lamb, shepherds, wise men and angel.
Remember the popular movement in the 1990s – WWJD? (Have you got the bracelet?) The intent was to “act” as Jesus would in various situations. Look up Mark 10-45 for the thought-seed: For even the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister…
Therefore, we are encouraged to be awesome, like Christ. As a family unit, discuss how to minister, or serve others this Christmas season (and beyond). Basically, if somebody is cold, give them a warm hug and blanket; if they are hungry, make them a sandwich and if they are struggling without direction, lead them to Christ.
Christmas is a wonderful, magical time of the year. But, in this material era, we may express our selfish side during the Christmas season. Family traditions that are geared toward keeping Christ at the center of Christmas emphasize the true meaning of Christmas.