When we talk about preparing for Christmas our thoughts probably rush to the idea of gifts that have to be bought and wrapped, food that needs to be prepared, cards that need to be written and sent and parties that need to be planned or attended. But I want to encourage you to take your foot off the accelerator and if necessary leave some of those things undone. That's right, I did just say that, Christmas will still come even if the cards don't all get written, and it is still possible to love your children without buying that one extra gift. In fact why not take what you were planning on spending on gifts for everyone this year and cut that number in half, and then as a family use that money and take a gift card for groceries and deliver it to a family that you know of who may be struggling this Christmas time.
Tragically, our preparations for Christmas can involved that we actually forget to prepare for Christmas. That is, we forget the reason why we celebrate. I know the the sayings "Keep Christ in Christmas" and "Jesus is the reason for the season" are plastered in peoples yards and on bumper stickers, but the message is a good one.
Perhaps the best way to rightly prepare for Christmas is the way that generations of believers who have gone before us have used. Observing the season of Advent. Advent this year begins on Sunday, December 2 and runs through Christmas Eve.
Advent (def.) The coming of Jesus, either in the Incarnation of Biblical times or in the Second Coming at the end of the world. Also, a time of reflection observed in many Christian churches to focus and prepare for Christmas.
Why not plan to observe Advent this year, here are a few simple ideas of how you can begin:
- Use an Advent Devotional (Click here to get a free one from the Billy Graham Association)
- Read through the words of some of your favorite Christmas Carols and use them to prompt you in prayer and thanksgiving (as well as in personal worship).
- Make your own Advent Wreath with 5 candles. The candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and Christ come into the world. Then set aside a meal time once a week to and invite members of your family to read some passages of Scripture on that subject and light the candle.
- Set aside a daily time to reflect on Jesus as God's Ultimate gift of love, and ask God to help you to put the other preparations for Christmas in their proper perspective.
- Send out Advent Cards to friends or those in need of encouragement. Simply write out a verse about God's great love or a word of encouragement about the difference that a life lived with Christ makes.
You can probably come up with plenty of other great ideas - but whatever you do, this year, prepare for Christmas in a different way and celebrate with meaning this year.