By Pastor Becca McCary
If you've been looking for some ways to help your family connect spiritually with Christmas, I thought I would share 25 ways to Celebrate Jesus this Christmas. I put some of my favorites in bold if you don't have time to read the whole list.
1. Start the season off right, remembering what it's all about by reading the Christmas story in Matthew.
2. Kiss your spouse under the mistletoe. A happy, healthy marriage is a gift to our whole family and reflects the love of God.
3. Get a Christmas Tree, remembering Jesus great act of love at the end of his life- hanging on a wooden cross to forgive us of our sins.
4. Sing Hark The Herald Angels Sing as a family, written by the great pastor Charles Wesley. It does a great job of reminding us of the Christmas Story.
5. Go for a long walk as a family, reflecting on Mary's Journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She traveled 80 miles while pregnant to get to her cousin for some support. How can you support each family member in God's calling on their lives?
6. Drive and look at Christmas lights. John 1:5 tells the Christmas story in one poetic sentence. Read the passage as a family and talk about how you can let more of God's light into your family as you turn to God.
7. Read the "Saint who would be Santa Claus" to learn some Christian history behind this pop culture icon.
8. Set up a nativity before bed and remember all the people sleeping in the cold tonight just like our savior did in his manger. Say a prayer for them.
9. Participate in our Santa Claus Conspiracy and share some joy this Holiday!
10. Make a Christmas card for your neighbor and invite them to our worship services.
11. Pray for all the single moms you know, who have a daunting but powerful calling on their lives, just like Mary did.
12. Pray for all the families and young toddlers fleeing their countries for asylum just like Jesus did when he fled for his life to Egypt.
13. Order a copy and read "The Living Nativity, The Story of Saint Francis and the Christian Manger" by David and Hellen Haidle. This children's book made me cry when I read it because it told the good news about Jesus so well, while also teaching some church history too. Seriously, check it out!
14. Have a Christmas party! Laugh, dance, and enjoy! Celebration is a spiritual discipline and laughter heals the soul.
15. Commit to worshiping together as a family every Sunday this Advent. You won't regret this chance to connect with God and find rest for our soul in worship.
16. Tell your family what your favorite Christmas Carol is and why. Many of these songs have such rich spiritual content!
17. Read "Saint Nicholas" by Ann Tompert with your kids. It has illustrations but might be a little scary for little ones since it is an account of the Christian roots of some of our Christmas traditions like gift giving and St. Nick caring for children.
18. God showed us love, making himself vulnerable, by coming to us as a baby, so that we could be close to him. Over a cup of hot chocolate, reflect on what relationships in your life could improve with more vulnerability and less defensiveness.
19. Listen to the song "O Holy Night", reflecting on the reverence expressed in this song. Share with your family members the things you do that help your heart to revere God.
20. Read Luke 1:46-56, Mary's song of praise. Share with your family some of the things you want to praise God for in your life.
21. Jesus' needs were provided for when the wise men brought him gifts. Is there someone in your life that has an unmet need, maybe for friendship or food or prayer, that you could reach out to this Christmas?
22. Joseph listened to God, and chose to love and care for Mary, even when it cost him his reputation. While eating a Christmas Cookie, consider, is there a person or group of people that makes you uncomfortable to love? How can you embrace a love that takes risks and puts others, even uncomfortable others, before your own ego, understanding, reputation, and assumptions.
23. Embrace Simplicity since the savior of the world had such a modest and simple birth. In the early church, if someone was hungry, and there wasn't enough food to go around, the church would fast for a day in order to have more food to share. Take one day to fast from technology to be generous with your time or take 25 days to fast from eating out so you can be generous to people in need with that money.
24. Put people first since Christmas is about God being intimately involved with people.Volunteer to serve in the church for our Christmas services with the goal to get to know some people better who are in the family of God. Our faith is best lived out through relationships and you might be surprised at how you see and experience God through relationships at church.
25. Take an evening home to rest and connect as a family. Relax, breath, pray, laugh. Watch a Christmas movie. Sleep. During this busy season we often feel to busy for family, too busy to pray, too busy to worship. During our most busy moments are when we need connection the most. God is speaking all the time, and if we can pause to listen, we will be comforted by his sustaining presence.
I hope you have the most meaningful Christmas of your lives this year! Blessings on all of your families this Christmas!