One thing I have learnt as a mom is the need to be intentional otherwise life and our culture just sweeps me along and then I look back and have regrets. I feel like I missed something. Have you ever felt that about Christmas? That you look forward to it so much and then when it’s all over you wonder if you missed something? Or it wasn’t quite what you had expected it to be? I don’t want that for you, or for me. That’s why I think it’s so important to be intentional about Christmas. We need to think and talk about what’s most important at Christmas and how will that look in our homes.
If you made a list right now of all the things you like to do, want to do or feel you have to do at Christmas, what would all go on that list? Stuff like filling stockings, baking cookies, making a great Christmas card to give out, going to a Christmas service and so on.
Now ask yourself what it is that you enjoy about the Christmas season and why that event or thing is meaningful to you? One of my favorite memories at Christmas is decorating the Christmas tree. The fun was pulling out all the old familiar decorations year after year and hanging them on the tree. We had these red elves with jingle bells on their toes. Thinking back, they really weren’t that attractive but they had sentimental value. And part of decorating the tree included listening to Handle’s Messiah on the record player. Now that dates me a bit! But when I started my own tree decorating tradition with my husband, one of the first things I bought was Handle’s Messiah – on CD! There was just something about that music and being together as a family to decorate. Right now as I reflect on that memory I realize it was doing something together that made me feel so wonderful, combined with little white sparkly lights and great music. But somehow as a mom I have yet to really incorporate that tradition into my life. I have two boys who love to “help” decorate the tree, but rather than embracing that tradition I have gotten frustrated and upset with them for manhandling my precious ornaments or not putting them in perfect formation on “my” tree. Huh, I am realizing just now how I missed the mark again this Christmas. Remind me to do better next year. But you can see how we need to spend time thinking about what’s important to us at Christmas and what made it memorable for us as kids and then work to build that into our own families.
Now maybe you no longer look forward to Christmas. Take some time to ask yourself why not? What is it that you don’t enjoy and why? Is there something you can do about that. Being intentional in this means taking it into your devotion time and prayerfully asking God for His strategy in dealing with this tough situation or person during Christmas. I’m sure your cell leader or the wonderful people at after-service prayer would love to pray with you about this too.
One of the things we need to be intentional about Christmas is thinking through what actually NEEDS to go on our To Do list at Christmas. What is most important on that list? What do you need to get rid of because it actually causes too much stress, takes up too much time, costs too much money or whatever? And here’s my BIG question… where is Jesus on that list?
We are celebrating Jesus birthday. That’s what Christmas is all about. The moment when God entered our world to make everything right! The greatest story ever told, the one that changes everything for us and should change how we celebrate. We should celebrate differently because we as Christians know the real meaning for this time of year. But are we different? If people came into your home could they tell you were a Christian? Sometimes it’s the simple things like Christmas music from Christian artists, having a nativity scene as a decoration, having Christmas movies that include the story of Jesus birth and not just the Grinch. But it’s more than just those physical things. It’s about what we desire, chase after and make ourselves busy with at Christmas.
Do you engage with Jesus, do you worship him more deeply at this time of the year? The things we desire are the things we worship. When you look at your TO DO list for Christmas does it reflect a desire for a beautifully decorated house, the best presents, good baking, lots of busy time and outings? There’s nothing wrong with those things. But if we stripped those away, said you couldn’t have them this year, would your heart clench and Christmas never be the same? Is it more than just liking those things, are you worshipping THEM at Christmas?
And how do we worship Jesus at Christmas? It’s not just about going to church or singing songs. That’s too small of a picture of worship. We worship Jesus when we do anything that shows Him we love Him and we love what He loves. How could you worship Jesus this Christmas? Are there traditions you could start with your kids that are acts of worship to Jesus? To say it simpler…what can you do at Christmas that shows others and your kids that you love Jesus?
Can I just suggest one thing for you to add to your TO DO list this Christmas? Spend time with Jesus on his birthday! Most people on their birthday like to hear that you love and appreciate them. How much more wouldn’t Jesus love to hear that and to just be with you on His birthday? I did that last year, for maybe the first time in my life. I sat down and did devotions on the 25th. Christmas day! I sat down to be with Jesus. How sad that it took me that long! But Christmas was always so busy. Presents, gatherings, eating, Christmas TV specials! Jesus, I’ll see you after boxing day! I’m ashamed. But I’m making a change from now on, how about you? Let’s make time for Jesus. Schedule him in on his birthday, and all year long!