How can parents maximize holiday experiences to pass on spiritual truths to their families?
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.
1. Lead your family in singing Christmas songs.
My wife and I love Christmas music. One easy way to instill an appreciation for them into your family is to use them devotionally in family worship. During the holidays, introduce one song a week. Print off the words or copy the music from a hymnal and pass them out after supper on Sunday or Monday. Each day at a family meal take time to talk about the truths in the song. Use one of the many resources available that tell the stories behind hymns. Sing the hymn or carol as a family several times that week.
2. Make a prayer garland.
Gather some red and green construction paper. Cut out twenty-four strips. As a family, choose twenty-four 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 for that person or ministry. One year our family sent notes every day to the recipients. Your children will anticipate tearing off their strips.
3. 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 through 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.”[i]
4. 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” (Dt. 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.
- Teach small children to either make or purchase small gifts for their siblings.
- Invite someone to your home to share in a meal. Look for a widow, widower, or student far away from home.
- Make a financial gift as a family to a missions agency or missionary family.
5. 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.
[i] John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People.