How To Keep Jesus at the Center of Christmas

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By Courtney Chambers
The Christmas season approaches quickly every year. Once the leaves have fallen and the air is crisp, we see decorations, candy, and gift ideas in every store we enter. Lights strung on homes and lamp poles fill the streets, and everywhere we turn, we are thrown into the jolly season of Christmas.
We decorate our houses with trees filled with lights and watch as our children grab the Amazon catalog to circle all the toys they hope to find under the tree. If we are not careful, we can easily skip past the reason for the Christmas season. We might post something on social media to state Jesus is the reason for the season, but is this how our families genuinely live in the season? I am not saying that we must forgo the Christmas lights and movies, not fill our homes with sweet treats and presents, but all we do in this season should not overtake the real reason for our Christmas joy. In everything we do, we are to glorify Christ, including the busy holiday seasons.
Teach the Gospel Daily
Christmas is a time for us to celebrate Jesus coming to earth—the awaited prince who brings peace to a world without it. Before Jesus appeared, the Israelites waited in silence for four hundred years. They knew the promises in the covenants, they sat waiting for them to be fulfilled, and the promises were fulfilled in a baby born in a manger. Jesus humbling himself this way, coming to earth, and taking on human flesh is part of the gospel story that must be told to our families. This is better than any Christmas story possible because, through this story, redemption and grace were poured out. Hope was given in a hopeless world.
Parents and children need to be reminded of the story of the gospel and reiterate each day why we are celebrating the Christmas season. Read the Bible together, sing Christ-focused songs, and put on plays in the home that point you back to gospel truths. We can be intentional to fuel our days with gospel nuggets this holiday season. As parents, we must remind ourselves of the gospel before we pour it out to our children. In a season known for fast-paced days and travels, make a point of slowing down and remembering why we are even celebrating. Unlike the Israelites who sat day after day, year after year, waiting for the prince to come, we know that he has already come, defeated sin and death, and is rightly sitting on his throne in heaven.
Christmas season is about Jesus; most Christians will tell you that when passing by. Sadly, in our Hallmark-style world, the center has shifted from Jesus to self-idolatry. Consumers today want more. More stuff, more lights, more treats, and more trips. To receive and give gifts is not wrong; to be excited about the Christmas lights and songs is not bad; and to travel on trips or visit family is a blessing. As Christian families,  we embrace these things in the Christmas season to glorify Christ. I can thank God for the lights, family, and food I enjoy. I can thank God for the gifts I receive and show my thankfulness by giving to others. All we do has the potential to be self-serving or God-honoring, and it all starts at the core, which is rooted in the gospel.
Serve Others
In a season that often encourages our children to think in a self-serving way, as Christian families, we should be countercultural and teach the art of serving others. If we think about the true Christmas story, we see Jesus serving us. He humbled himself as the ultimate servant because of his love for his people. Looking at Jesus as an example, this is how we should treat others as well. Practically, this could teach our kids to serve one another within the home. Some ideas could be:
  • Helping with your siblings’ chores
  • Cleaning up without being asked
  • Making a card for someone in your family
  • Surprising a family member with something special
Our family members are the closest neighbors that we have. They see us in our most selfish states and our most vulnerable states. In a season marked by selfishness, why not take time to be intentional and love how Jesus loved us? As parents, we can lead our children in the heart of serving by serving one another in front of our children and serving our children. This would be an excellent time for our children, who are unbelievers, to teach why we are serving each other, which stems from love found in the gospel.
We also can take the Christmas season to love our neighbors and church members. Allow your kids to get creative and think of ways that they would want to serve others that they know. After we had our first child, my husband and I tried to think of ways to make Christmas more than presents. One of the ways we thought of was finding ways our kids could serve others within our local church. As they age, the ideas move from our own to our kids’. Some ideas to serve your local church and neighbors are:
  • Make cookies for neighbors and church members
  • Buy a Christmas gift for someone you know
  • Make Christmas cards to pass out
  • Help others with chores around their homes
  • Make a meal for a family
  • Show up for a sporting event to support someone
  • Invite people into your home for a game night
The ways to serve others are numerous. We can give tangible gifts, use our hands and feet, and use our tongues to encourage others we know. We serve others because we have been served. We take this Christmas season to serve one another to remind ourselves of Jesus. Serving takes the focus off ourselves and places our focus back on Christ.
In the busy Christmas season, we need the gospel as families. We need daily reminders about Jesus and why we celebrate this holiday season. We also need to help create a mindset within our home that is not consumer-driven. We can accomplish this by creating an environment fueled by serving. When we are busy serving and doing for others, focusing on what we want is no longer at the forefront. Instead, we spend our days finding different ways to bring others joy. This is the true heart of Christmas. Christmas is about the happiness we feel knowing that our awaited prince came and served us in the best way possible by bringing salvation to his people. Christmas is all about Jesus.
Courtney Chambers is a pastor’s wife and mom of three living in northeast Missouri. Courtney has a Bachelor’s in World Missions and a Master’s in Biblical Counseling.  Courtney is passionate about biblical theology and reaching the next generation. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, and baking. You can find her @courtneyrchambers and @thereformedlife

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