A Christmas Challenge

In the Christian tradition, the season of Advent launches a new year. The primary theme of this season is one of expectation for Jesus to come. Unfortunately, for many of us in Canada, we tend to be so busy with the full to-do list of the season that we miss out on this expectation of excitement.

We make holiday plans, we shop for gifts, we put up decorations, we make sure cards were mailed on time, and all of that, while keeping to our budget. It’s no wonder that Christmas has become one of the most stressful times of the year for many of us. Sadly, because of our busyness, we forget to spend time with the Person who really matters: Jesus.

This Christmas, we challenge you to make this season less stressful and more Christ-centred. Here are a few suggestions:

Give your time generously.

Christ was truly God.
But he did not try to remain
equal with God.
Instead he gave up everything
and became a slave,
when he became
like one of us.

Philippians 2:6-7 (CEV)

Jesus invites us to act in the same way he did: practically sacrificing our time, energy, and positions of power for the sake of others. One way of sharing your time is by spending it in meaningful personal ways with those who are less fortunate. Many people are lonely, depressed, feeling isolated, or grieving the loss of a loved one, and these feelings become particularly poignant around the holidays when others are celebrating. A friendly invitation for coffee or a meal, or a visit may be just what they need.

When you give money or gifts, be a 2 Corinthians 9.7 giver.

“You should each give, then, as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly.”

Evaluate your gift list. Why do you give to these people? Is it because it’s expected of you? Is it to impress them? Is it because it brings joy, to you and/or to them? Perhaps the most important question: would this be pleasing to the Lord?

Teach the story of Jesus’ birth to little ones.

It can be a little challenging to draw children’s attention to the Christian reason for the season, especially when they see commercial representations everywhere they go. There is Santa (and his elves at the mall) beckoning children to sit on his lap and tell him their Christmas wishes. Instead of the Holy Spirit, children await for the Christmas magic to work in their hearts. And in our pluralistic society, most of us have friends and neighbours who are celebrating other religious holidays around the same time.

The Christmas season is simultaneously a great opportunity to draw children’s attention to Jesus and one of the most challenging times to help them see the difference between the variety of worldviews being presented to them. Decorate your home with Christ-centred décor; ask for their help and explain what those decorations mean. Read the Christmas story together. Talk about how others perceive this holiday season. Encourage them to give – instead of expecting to receive – in Jesus’ name. In these ways and more, lead by example and invite them to join you in age-appropriate ways.

Spend time with Jesus

Spend time learning more about Jesus through our primary source: the Bible. Go on a 12-day journey about the birth of Jesus, or walk through the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Advent and Christmas. Reading about the birth of our Saviour helps us cut through the noise of the season and remember the most important thing.

Take time to thank God for His blessings and to pray for those who have not experienced Jesus in their lives. When you have the opportunity, include in your calendar attending a Christmas service to worship with fellow believers.

Do you have other suggestions that worked for you over the years? Send us your feedback.

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