This has definitely been the best of our M & J family Christmas's yet.... Several great
influences collided for us and led us to some sweet tweaks to our family traditions.
Too often I have argued that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" but sometimes I wonder if that is perhaps more self-defense that "I really am a Christian".... while I'm celebrating this fantastic Christian holiday exactly like the Christ-less world does, except for perhaps one or two additions. Who is to blame then, for forgetting the reason for all this? Has Jesus really been the consistent focus- start to finish- for this whole season of celebration or have we postured ourselves, our budget, our time around countless, unneeded, over-the-top gifts?
Why do we do this to ourselves?
"When All the Gifts are for Him", posted at Christmas Change, rung in me like a clarion. It seemed like a no-brainer to read. Yes, Yes! Of course we should be celebrating, feasting for, rejoicing in, and worshipping, serving our King who has come!
And so, our rearrangement.... Lord order this celebration in our lives truly for Your Glory!
~ We have enjoyed a wonderful Advent season together, anticipating the birth of our Savior. Candlelight nightly after dinner, a story from the Word and the picture hung on our Jesse Tree. Then often this ends with worship tunes enjoyed together, maybe some dancing, maybe (probably) cookies. This is without doubt the sweetest, most glorious time of the year.
~ At Matt's leading, we've held off on certain Christmas carols. In this season of advent, we're building anticipation and anticipation is a gift in itself to be increasingly built and enjoyed until the revealing.
~ For Christmas Eve we dressed the table and ate all in candlelight (amazing how candlelight seems to invite and encourage the best attention from our kids).... We remembered Peter the High King of Narnia, as he rode to battle, raising his sword and shouting "For Narnia.... and for Aslan!" The kids and I raised our glasses of grape juice and sprite and we all toasted "To King Jesus! and His Glory!" (It's really sweet to see how Narnia has enlivened my vision for feasting to our King's glory.) Much joy all around.
~ After dinner we put up sandals on our Jesse Tree... heading to Bethlehem now... and we talked again about who we are celebrating this Christmas. God's gift to us: Jesus! I t's His birthday not ours! But it would be just like him to give gifts to us on his birthday. And just like God gave us His Son to be our Savior, a gift too great for words, a gift we have never deserved, we can give a few small gifts to each other to celebrate his goodness too. A few presents, just a small piece of the party. And the night should end in glad thanksgiving.
~ Gifts~ It does seem to fit, and it is just like our King, with all his lavishness, that we could receive gifts at his birthday. Since we hold off buying much at all throughout the year, the gifts given now can be really needed/useful things and not just junk for cluttering. We buy the kids each one nice gift and maybe a little thing too. (The grandparents and family.... they're not so into the "few gifts" bit... We just might have to space out these gifts a little bit... but hopefully our kids are still catching the point that serving and worshipping Jesus is the peak joy in this celebration.)
~ Christmas morn we woke to the glad proclamation: "Joy to the World!" Now the celebration has come. It is as complete now as it will be till he comes again and there is such shaping anticipation in our hearts for that future celebration! We had the most special breakfast we could muster- French Toast with Cranberries and Huang Di Gar (like oranges, but better) and we're spending time in worship, and joyful play and rest together now. Really, when this is His day, what should it be about other than worshipping Him, serving others (whatever you do for the least of these you do for me), and celebrating Him, honoring Him together? This year plans fell through for a few service ideas we had, but we'll carol His joy to some neighbors here and give them fruit baskets. A day of worship and celebration and joy in Jesus more than I think I have been mindful of much before...
~ Serving ~ We really want this day to be about us connecting with others. It seems like it can be entirely unAmerican (and we can confuse this with being un-Christian) to think of spending Christmas day with anyone but family. But really.... haven't we been called to give? Isn't his grace towards us so lavish and full that we should be overflowing into the lives of those who need to know, need his love, need his care? I hope that serving others will mark our family life together and especially, that it would mark our Christmas celebrations together.
Many prayers have gone up for our family to know and deeply realize the cause of all this celebration. Oh may this day rightly change us! May we rightly honor Him! What a gift we have received at Christmas that our Savior would come to us, for us. Praise be!