Around this time every year, we Christians begin to get on our high horses about keeping Christ in Christmas. We protest when store clerks say, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” We post signs in our yards that say “Keep Christ in Christmas.” We cringe when we hear Christmas trees called Holiday trees.
Yes, those things aggravate me too, but keeping Christ in Christmas has less to do with how vocal I am about protesting the actions of others and more to do with the condition of my heart. If I want to teach my children that Christmas is all about celebrating Christ, is getting angry at a non-Christian society really the best way to go?
I think not.
So how do you keep Christ in Christmas? I don’t have a magic formula, but here are a few things that work for me.
Make Christ a Priority
How often do you spend time with the Lord? This is something I’ve really been working on lately. As a busy mom, it’s hard to wake up early and give God the first part of my day. But if I don’t get up early to meet with the Lord, I find the rest of my day slips away from me, and that time with Jesus never happens.
If I push Christ out of my life on a daily basis, how can I expect that He will be the focus of my home during the holidays, especially when there is that much more distraction this time of year? Making Christ a priority throughout the year is paramount to keeping Him first at Christmas.
Give as Much as You Can
The ads on TV, the displays in stores, even words from friends: they all tell us we need to buy this, spend money on ourselves, and pack the underside of our Christmas trees to have a truly Merry Christmas.
But is that how Jesus would want us to celebrate his birthday? Was Jesus all about receiving? No, Jesus gave healing, wisdom, time, and even his life for wretched humanity. Shouldn’t Christmas be about doing the same?
It’s not wrong to give and receive gifts. I’m not saying that at all. But that shouldn’t be the focus. This time of year especially, the needs of others are made known. Christmas trees in churches and stores highlight specific needs for Christmas presents. Food pantries are always in need of food. Shut ins with no family could use some Christmas cheer.
Give your time, your money, your food. Open your home. Make giving a little painful, knowing that Jesus also gave sacrificially. Even if buying a gift for an unknown child means that your own family receives one less gift, that act of kindness will touch the heart of the recipient forever. Your gift may be the only gift that child receives. More importantly, that gift may be the first time the recipient sees Jesus in action.
Giving changes lives. Receiving a gluttonous amount of “stuff” makes us selfish. Giving puts Christ back in Christmas.
Celebrate Christ Corporately
One thing our church is doing this year is celebrating Advent together. I LOVE this. Each night (most nights, anyway…nobody is perfect) our family sits around our dinner table, lights the advent candles, and reads from an advent booklet our pastors put together.
Sometimes our reading assignment is a Bible lesson. Sometimes it’s a story. Sometimes it’s an action we take to put the focus on others, rather than ourselves. But together as a family, and together as a church, we deliberately take time each day to focus on Jesus. Knowing that others in our church are doing the same thing adds even more significance to our advent time.
Even if your church isn’t doing advent together, you can still celebrate Christ in a corporate manner. Attend a Christmas pageant or choir concert, see a live Nativity scene, find a group to carol with. Join like-minded believers in celebrating Jesus at Christmas. Trust me, it ads to the excitement of the season and the focus on the Lord.
And your kids, seeing others focus on Jesus, will feel validated, knowing that your family isn’t the only family that doesn’t focus on gifts and Santa at Christmas. Seeing other Christians in action can inspire kids to take their own faith more seriously.
However you do it, make sure you examine your own heart this Christmas season. Is Jesus first in your life? Is Christ the focus in your heart? If not, why not make a change? If so, what do you do to keep Christ first in Christmas?
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11