Year round you’ll see car magnets and bumper stickers admonishing you to “Keep Christ in Christmas”. But what exactly does this mean? Hopefully more than just saying “Merry Christmas!” What are some good, practical ways to ensure your holiday season remains Christ-centered?
1) Music – Music is an integral part of the Christmas season. And in my opinion, the Christmas hymns are the greatest songs ever written, combining beautiful music with rich theological content. So swap White Christmas and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town out from your playlist for the true classics like Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. And don’t treat it merely as background music; pause to listen and reflect on the words: “Joy to the world, our Lord is come!”
2) Advent – When most people think of Advent, it’s probably calendars and chocolate. But Advent is so much more than that! It’s a time of expectation and preparation for the coming of our Lord. There are many activities to help celebrate Advent, such as lighting candles or decorating special trees, but I care most about readings or devotionals that help focus on the importance of the Incarnation. My favorite is our alma mater’s Advent Project, which is a combination of art, music, and a devotional. There are plenty of different Advent readings available, so find one that works best for you and your family.
3) Go to church – This may seem like a no-brainer. Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s (unfortunately) very easy to skip out on worship services for shopping and family get-togethers. But don’t forget your church family! Christmastime is usually full of special services and reflective devotionals (see Advent above) to ensure the season is focused on Christ so don’t let busyness keep you from worshiping with your fellow brothers and sisters. Also, be on the lookout for special concerts or Christmas plays.
4) Give – There’s no shortage of people lamenting the commercialization of Christmas. As a result, some have written off gift-giving altogether. And I get it. But we also can’t forget that Christmas is about the world receiving the greatest gift of all: the Word become Flesh. God with us, Emmanuel. So giving gifts intentionally can be a way of reflecting this. One example is from fellow Apologer, Ben Bishop:
On Christmas Day we only give 3 gifts to each other family member (the giver actually gives them) to reflect on giving rather than on gifts. One gift is a need, one is a want and the third is something that can be done together. This is based off of the gifts the Magi gave.
Give beyond your friends and family. Give to those in need and to those who can’t give back. Give of yourself and your time by volunteering.
5) Nativity – Yes, a nativity is obvious and has sadly become cliche. But it’s a visual reminder of the Christmas story: God came to us as a helpless, vulnerable baby to learn and grow, to have the entire human experience. So slide over Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa and make room for little baby Jesus lying in a manger. Because you can never have too many reminders of who the season is really about.
The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful. So sometimes the most important thing you can do is slow down and enjoy the season. Even if you don’t do anything that I mention above, just take the time to reflect on what makes this time so special: God sent his Son to live among us and save us.
Is there anything else that you and your family do to keep Christ in Christmas? Let us know in the comments!