Week of December 23
By Skip Heitzig
Our Puritan forefathers thought the celebration of Christmas distracted people from the Lord’s Day. I can understand that: It’s hard to get people to come to church on Christmas when it falls on Sunday. Some churches even cancel services. But in the 17th century when the Puritans controlled government in some parts of the country, they issued a law forbidding the celebration of Christmas. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love the Puritans, and I’m inspired by their writings. But they were being too reactive.
Of course, today Christmas has been totally hijacked by secularization, and we need to take it back, to find ways to shine the light on Jesus Christ.
Let me challenge you to innovate. Why not create a few traditions of your own? You can decide how you’re going to celebrate Christmas, and make it a really joyful, Christ-centered time. Here are a few suggestions:
Make ornaments for your tree that mark significant events in your life. Maybe a picture of your wedding or your new baby. Or if someone comes to Christ during the year, put their picture on the tree. Mark special events on the tree that you can look at and thank God for.
"Adopt” someone to help them. There are seniors who need to be visited, and to be given gifts. There are children without families, and youth in detention centers. Give to them at Christmas, in the name of Jesus.
This one is my wife’s idea: On Christmas Eve you and the kids can each write your name on a brown paper bag, along with a prayer of something you are asking God to change in you, or something you need forgiveness for. Then display the bags someplace. Before Christmas morning, replace them with brand-new shiny bags filled with toys and candy. It’s symbolic of God taking the old and making all things new, lavishing us with His goodness and His grace.
One evening you could drive through town, maybe through one of the rougher neighborhoods, and just pray for all the people that you see walking on the street. Or pray for the houses on the street, that God would do a work for the people living there.
If you’ve wronged somebody, or somebody has wronged you, write a letter of forgiveness or reconciliation, or make a call. Use this season to try to build a bridge of forgiveness with other people. This is a season where people’s hearts get tender, so reach out.
Or you can go caroling. Invite some friends over, get some song sheets, walk to your neighbors’ houses, and sing. People love to hear carols. You can knock on the door and say, “Can we sing you a song about our Savior?” I think your neighbors will appreciate it--especially if you sing well!
These are just suggestions; come up with your own! But let your celebration, and your traditions, proclaim that Jesus Christ is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords!
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Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book Choosing Gratitude encourages thankfulness in every circumstance; includes a 30-day plan for journaling, prayer and activities to encourage her.
The special journal “Rejoice” contains verses of encouragement on 240 lined pages to record her journey to gratitude.
Hillsong United’s latest CD, Zion, is an incredible album that will help draw her into worship of our magnificent Lord.