It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is approaching. It is the time Christian people have set aside to celebrate God’s greatest gift to mankind – His Son. It is a season of joy, peace, and love. It is a season of music, laughter, and festivity. It is a season to think of others, to give gifts, to send cards, and visit loved ones. But above all, it is a season of focusing upon Christ, The Incarnate God, dwelling among men.
I realize for some this may not be true. There are those who view this season as just another holiday filled with hustle and bustle, crowded shopping, credit card debt, parties, alcohol, over eating, stress, and more stress. Often the focus is on Santa Clause, elves, reindeer, and over-indulged children getting more stuff. I have never wanted this time of the year to build selfishness into my children. When they were little and others would make a “wish list” of gifts they wanted, I would encourage my children to make a list of things they would like to do or buy for others. It is not about self. To truly celebrate Christmas is to bring out the Christ in Christmas, lifting up His name, and pointing others to Him.
How does one go about doing that practically? How do we bring out Christ in Christmas when all of society has their eyes elsewhere? First of all, we must remember that regardless of what others may say Christmas is a Christian holiday. Christmas is about Christ. Society confirms this by their relentless effort to remove the true meaning of Christmas. If Christmas were a meaningless pagan holiday there would be no attack upon it by the enemy. But it is not. In the hearts of millions of believers all over the world, this is a special time of worship, a time of reflecting, a time of gratitude, a time of joy, a time of honor, and a time of praise.
These are the thing I want to instill in the hearts of my children. Every year after the Thanksgiving holiday our family pulls out Christmas music, the trees, lights, and decorations. This tradition is not merely habit. For our family there is meaning and purpose behind it. This week as we were putting up our Christmas tree, my eight-year-old said, “Mom, tell me again what the tree represents.” You see, every year their father and I explain to the children how in our hearts the tree symbolizes the tree that Christ was crucified upon. It is a reminder to us that the babe in a manger grew up, lived a perfect life, and died upon a tree for the sins of the world. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed,” 1Peter 2:24.
As we hang the ornaments upon the tree each one represents something. The angels are a reminder of the messengers of glad tidings. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” Luke 2:13-14.
The doves remind us of the Spirit of God. The bells remind us to ring out the Good News. Even the candy canes have significance. They, in the shape of a shepherd’s staff, remind us of the Great Shepherd. When turned upside down the “J” reminds us of Jesus. The white in the candy tells us Christ’s purity. The red stripes represent our Saviour’s stripes. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed,” Isaiah 53:5.
And the star that my husband places upon the top of the tree is a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him,” Matthew 2:2.
After we put up the tree, Abigail arranged the Nativity scene on top of our piano. As we gather around and sing songs this season it will be a constant visual of who we worship and sing praises to.
Even the Christmas balls remind us of the world and how, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…”
When we placed the candles on our table as a center piece we were able to remind the children that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” John 8:12.
As Dana hung the lights on the outside of the house we explain to the children that as children of God we are to let our light shine for all to see. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.
Each night between now and Christmas day Dana will read an Advent story to the children before bed. Advent – Adventus. Ecce advenit Dominator Dominus. Behold, the Lord, the Ruler is come. The tradition of advent is a threefold celebration of the birth of Jesus, His eventual second coming to earth, and His continued presence in our lives here and now. God in our past, God in our future, and God in our present.
Nothing is done without meaning. Everything is done with purpose.
What does this season mean to you and your family? Is Christ the center of all you do? Is there purpose behind your traditions? Are you building in your children a life of selfless giving to others? Is Christ in your Christmas?
May our Lord richly bless you this season but more importantly may you be a blessing to Him!