Right about now most Christians start complaining a lot about how secular the season has become; how the world has hijacked Christmas and turned it into a long hedonistic festival, devoid of any spiritual significance. Many believers long to turn back the clock to days when whole communities would turn out at their local church and everyone knew the words to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “O Come, All ye Faithful”. But of course such days are long gone and it seems that the Christian voice is constantly drowned out by the secular anthems of 21st century society.
So what can we do? Well I believe we should start with ourselves personally and with our families and do small but significant things that allow us to be intentional about keeping Christ in Christmas. No point bemoaning how secular it has all become if we just mindlessly follow suit and just tack on an odd bit of religion along the way. So here are 5 things you can do to make Christmas special again.
1. Enjoy Advent Family Devotions.
Be intentional about getting the family to focus on the Christmas narratives around the dinner table if possible. But don’t just read them, probe them, look at them, apply them together at the different levels of understanding in your family unit. Even the youngest children need to be led into a sense of reverence and awe at this great God whose son entered this sinful world. Teenagers need to know of the God who can help them in their difficulties as “Immanuel” God with Us! Older folks need to be reminded of the faithful, unchanging God. There are many good books to help you with this. This year in our family we are using “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room “by Nancy Guthrie but there are many equally as good. Find out what works. Take time.
2. Sing Traditional Christmas Carols
Some secular Christmas songs are great and play a very big part of our festivities. They remind us of the sentiments of happy Christmases from our childhood and hopes and wishes for a better future. Michael Buble probably is worth an airing every year and how could it be Christmas without Slade’s “I wish it could be Christmas every day”?. But if we are ever going to turn back the secular trend in society then we have got to uphold and promote the theology of the Incarnation and that means turning back to classic carols. When you sing…………….
“Veiled in flesh the godhead see
Hail the Incarnate Deity”
you are reminding yourself of something incredibly profound – the wonderful truth of the God who took on flesh, the Infinite who became an Infant. Similarly when you sing
“Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus our Immanuel”
you are brought to the lofty heights of gospel truth. He dwelt among us - literally he pitched his tent. It doesn’t matter if you cant sing, sing them anyway or play them often in your home or car. Revisit the words, the theological immensities which are taught.
3. Read the Biblical Narratives
I'm amazed at how Christians think that the Incarnation is confined to the familiar stories of Matthew 1 and Luke 2. Read them certainly and look for details you may have missed but don’t forget Genesis 3, John 1, Isaiah 9, Micah 5 and Titus 2 : 11-14. Read them carefully and prayerfully as if for the first time. Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine them for you to show you wonderful things in the Book. Read into the culture and the background – get to know what gold was used for, and frankincense and find out what on earth myrrh is. Understand what it meant for the Romans to be in occupation and what it meant for Herod to feel threatened by the new king who had arrived. Seek out why Bethlehem was important in Jewish history etc etc. Remember this is truth and God has something to teach us in all of this. Don’t let Christmas go by default. Be intentional.
Look out for the next blog when I shall share 2 more ways to keep Christmas special.