As the calendar approaches the final month of the year it is important to ask ourselves the question, “What will the focus of this season be?” It is easy to just let things happen – all the shopping, parties, rushing around, family gatherings… It is easy for these things to take prominence. But we have to ask, “Is that really what we want to happen?” Would it not be better to bring more intentionality into this sacred season?
Most of us would likely agree that we want to keep Christ in our celebrations, but there is so much “cultural inertia” pushing us toward a superficial celebration. Is there anything families can do to celebrate in a more meaningful way?Many families who want to be more intentional take advantage of the advent season. One activity that many have found helpful is the Jesse Tree tradition. Each day a Scripture is read and discussed, and then an ornament (already prepared or colored by the child) is added to the “Jesse Tree”. As each day in December passes, the child and the family build not only an understanding of the whole story of Jesus, but also an anticipation for His special day – the day we celebrate His coming. (To enhance family devotions Ann Voskamp’s Book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, is recommended. Another version of the Jesse Tree Devotional can be found here.)
Beyond a regular time each day that focuses on the true reason for the season, parents might want to consider a weekly “discipline of love”. Taking advantage of the “giving” focus of the season – after all, Christ was God’s gift to us – parents might want to encourage children to think of one “gift” they can give to someone in their life each week. Perhaps bringing cookies to an elderly person, or inviting a friend to come and learn of Jesus at a church service, or giving away some toys for those less fortunate could be ways parents get children to enter into the Spirit of Christ who “came not be served but to give His life a ransom for many”.
There are many ways we can keep Christ in our Christmas celebration this coming season. But the point is unless we are intentional, we may miss out. May God direct each of us to capitalize on this glorious season building a growing love for our Savior in each family member.