Keeping Christ in Christmas

The excitement of Christmas has already begun at our house – the tree is decorated, the Christmas lists are made out, and soon the baking, shopping, and parties will be in full swing.  It is so easy in all this activity to let the real meaning of Christmas go unmentioned.  We adults know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday but how are our children going to know unless we tell them.  They may see this only as a time when all the relatives get together or there’s lots of goodies to eat or everyone gives them gifts.

Enjoy the traditional practices of Christmas.  Don’t be so different from the world that the world wouldn’t want what you have. An old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was on his way to England to do missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to keep some of their traditional practices, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan ‘devils’.

Today we as Christians should hear what Pope Gregory said and enjoy the traditions of the world, but be sure to give them Spiritual meaning for our families. Make every effort to teach the real meaning of Christmas through everything you do:

  • While decorating the tree share that the evergreen tree reminds us of the everlasting love Jesus has for us.  The tree is like a big birthday cake for Jesus and the lights are the candles.  The lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and that “God lights our darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29)
  • While wrapping gifts share “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) Point out that because it is Jesus’ birthday we give gifts.  Jesus said when we give to one another it is the same as giving to him. (And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40) Share “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).   Make sure your children are involved in making or purchasing gifts to give so they are not just on the receiving end of the gifts.  Also point out that giving is not only things, but he can give love, friendship, help, and joy.
  • Make the manger scene central in your decorations. Be sure your children hear the Christmas story from the Bible often. It’s fine to tell them the pretend stories of Santa and elves, Rudolph and Frosty, but be sure to tell the true story of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, Shepherds, etc.  Also help them understand the true story of Santa.  He loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give to others.  A good book about Santa is “Santa, Are You for Real? “ by Harold Myra.

Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects.  Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’,  or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)

 

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Dealing with Santa

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I realize some Christians avoid the Santa game all together.  Other Christians may choose to participate in the fun.

Our family chose to enjoy pretending about Santa, but always intentionally emphasizing throughout the season the true reason we celebrate, even using the tangible traditions to teach intangible truths.

A very Godly lady told us when our children were very small, “Don’t make your children so different from the world that the world doesn’t want what you have.” We have heeded that advice through the years and applied it in numerous situations, always trying to find things we could participate in with those that might not believe as we do, thus having an opportunity to interact with them.

To give further credence to this thought, an old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

We taught the true story of a man named Nicholas who gave gifts because he loved Jesus with all his heart.  A great children’s book about the history of Santa Claus is Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Myra.

Check Train Up The Child for ways to relate the real Reason for the Season to traditional seasonal objects.  Just search on the site for ‘Christmas’, ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas’,  or for a traditional object (ex. Santa, trees, wreaths, mistletoe, etc.)

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Christmas Joy in the Midst of Grief

25 years ago this morning we were on the way to my Daddy’s funeral. I was always a daddy’s girl and we always enjoyed Christmas together, even one year making together from scratch our own aluminum Christmas tree and color wheel (remember those?)

As we traveled to the funeral I was questioning why he had to die at Christmas time and would I ever be able to enjoy the season again. Then a Christmas song I had never heard came on the radio. As I listened to it, I found great comfort in the words, “Man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.” I felt like God was assuring me that because of Christmas I will see Daddy again and I needed to continue to experience joy at Christmas and think of Daddy experiencing the ultimate Christmas joy in heaven.

I still cry from missing Daddy, but Jesus gives me His abiding peace and joy. A friend recently said that grief has no time table.  So whether this is your first Christmas without a loved one or this is your fiftieth one, I pray we will all experience the Joy of the Lord this special season in spite of our loss because ‘man can live forevermore because of Christmas Day.’

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10

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