The word Christmas literally means “the mass of Christ” – or the worship service about Jesus Christ. Festive traditions are fun and enjoyable, but the center of the holiday remains the distinctively Christian belief that, because humanity is sinful and in need of forgiveness, God the Father sent His only Son to become a human without sin. He died a substitutionary death on a Roman cross and then rose from the dead – so that everyone who believes in Him, repenting of their sin and inviting Him into their life – will be made a child of God.
December offers times ripe for talking about the Lord. The original derivation of the word holiday comes from the words holy day. We can seize opportunities all around us for recognizing Christmas as a holy holiday.
- Lead your family in singing Christmas songs.
My wife and I love Christmas music. One easy way to instill an appreciation for those songs into your family is to use them devotionally in family worship. Use a hymnal or find words online. Start with a new song after supper on Sunday or Monday. At family meals, take time to talk about the truths in the song. Use one of the many resources available that tell the stories behind carols. Sing together several times during the week.
- Make a prayer garland.
Gather red and green construction paper. Cut out strips for the remaining days of the month. As a family, choose people and ministries for whom you want to pray. Write one prayer target on each strip. Using a stapler, make a garland and hang it on your Christmas tree or in the family room. Once a day, let the children take turns tearing off a prayer strip and leading your family in prayer. One year, our family sent notes every day to the recipients.
- Practice the art of celebrating.
Lead the way in rejoicing and celebrating this festive season. Don’t be a Grinch; be a celebrator! Get excited as the family picks out a Christmas tree and decorates it with lights and ornaments. Turn on the Christmas CDs and fill your home with music. Bring home little treats of candy or small gifts to share with your family throughout the month. May the walls of your house ring with laughter and good cheer.
John Ortberg so rightly said, “If we don’t rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die. If we are going to rejoice, it must be in this day.”
- Share with others.
Sharing characterized the festivals of the Jews. God instructed them to make allowances for the servants, poor, and foreigners that were “within your gates” (Deuteronomy 16:11). Today in our holidays we too can share:
- Give gifts to each other and people outside of your family in the spirit of generosity.
- Invite someone to your home or family gathering to share in a meal or party. Look for a widow, widower, or student far away from home.
- Make a financial gift as a family to a mission agency or missionary family.
- Reach out to someone who has lost a loved one this year.
- Read the Scriptures and pray together at home.
I believe the most powerful method the Lord has given parents to influence their children is through the simple practice of family worship. In our sophisticated, high-tech age, we may be tempted to forget the spiritual potency of opening the Bible, reading it to our families, and leading them in prayer. God made it very simple: pick up the Word of God, share it with our families, and lead them to the throne of grace.
Opportunities abound during the holidays to teach our children spiritual lessons. Let’s be on the alert to impact our families for the Christ of Christmas.