Christmas season is here. Town squares light up. Malls resonate Christmas music. Santa Claus reclines in every shop’s corner. Children repeat their wish list. Elf on the shelf blasts social media with its daily destructions. Surrounded by these depictions of Christmas, it is difficult to see that Christ is the actual meaning of Christmas. One may know that Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas, but it may be hard to believe when there is very little actual representation of Jesus throughout the season other than the occasional manger scene in the local church yard he or she passes each day. How can we as Christians show unbelievers the importance of God sending his Son, born of a woman, to redeem us from the wrath of God deserved for our sin? (Gal. 4:4-5) How can we show believers the importance praising God for this and making much of Him in our traditions?
Invite Unbelievers into your Home
The fact that we have two unbelievers presently living with us has caused much thought as to what they are seeing Christmas to be. I cannot control how the world presents Christmas-what the international student sees Americans emphasizing on TV commercials, in Best Buy, or among overheard conversations-or what my children observe from other children’s sinful greediness, traditional activities, or the typical question “What is Santa Claus bringing you?” from every adult in sight. What I can control, however, is my home’s representation of Christmas. I remember going shopping for my first Christmas with my husband in hope to find some Christmas decorations that were about Jesus. I came across a few overly expensive manger scenes, but it was a lost cause for more. It’s up to us, Christians, because Jesus is not out there this Christmas. If the international student comes to America and all he or she learns about Christmas is a fat, jolly old man and frivolous gift giving, we have missed an opportunity to share the gospel. Invite them into your Jesus-exalting, Christmas celebrating home. Have you considered that your children are born sinners and are unbelievers as well until God graciously opens their eyes to put their faith in Christ? (Ps. 51:5, 2 Cor. 3:16) Do we want to teach our unbelieving children that they need to be a good boy or girl to receive gifts from a stranger and even when they are bad (because all kids and all people are-Rom. 3:23) they will still receive the gifts because the bully in school never really had coals in his stocking did he? In this system, he assumes he is a good boy right? But the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us the opposite! We are all bad and in need of a Savior who freely gives us His Son! Shouldn’t we be teaching this to our children and other unbelievers this Christmas?
Invite Believers into your Home
What about the Christian who only knows to celebrate Christmas the way their parents did with them? What if this way had very little to do with Jesus although they know that that’s what it is about? Last Christmas, my husband and I had the privilege of being invited into our pastor and his family’s home on the night of their Christmas tree decorating. One way that they made much of Jesus was by having specific ornaments that told the story of Christmas--the gospel. Each child would pick up an ornament and before they could place it on the tree, the parents would ask what it meant and then explain further once the child had responded. A manger scene exemplified Jesus’ birth—a star for the one the wise men followed—a dove for the Holy Spirit who ascended on Jesus in which God the Father proclaimed, “My son in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17)—a lion representing the lamb that was slain (Rev. 5:5) to name a few. In addition to this, a manger scene sat as the centerpiece of the room where the children reviewed each figurine and even acted out at times. As fellow believers, this encouraged our souls in how to make Jesus the center of Christmas in our home. Invite believers into your home and do the same.
What Makes our Home Different
As I shared my unlucky experience of shopping for Jesus-glorifying decorations, it makes sense to make your own. We can make ornaments or find objects that would be suitable and even transform them into ornaments in order to fit the above example of my pastor’s. Noel Piper has many tips in her book Treasuring Christ in our Traditions such as making your own Advent Calender, repetition of the Christmas story (especially for children), reviewing the prophecies of Jesus’ coming, looking forward to Jesus’ future coming, and the lighting of advent candles each Sunday leading up to Christmas day for the Light of the World has come! Inviting all people-unbelievers AND believers-into your home this Christmas will allow their eyes to move away from Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowmen and onto the glorious manger. It will awaken their ears from being filled with “jingle bells”, wish lists, and naughty or nice categories and to the story of the gracious cross and risen Savior.