Today we will be looking at practical ways to meditate on the Messiah during the Christmas season. Let us cultivate a spirit of reverence this holiday season as we celebrate the most wonderful of events–the coming of the Messiah!
Meditating on The Messiah King
Names of Jesus Ornaments- Create a collection of tree ornaments that display the names of Jesus and their references. As you “trim your tree” or decorate your home read them out loud to each other and look up some of the verses they are found in. This is a wonderful exercise that allows you to remind yourself of who Christ is and to teach your children that Jesus was so much more than a little baby in a manger. It is also a wonderful way to continue to meditate on Christ throughout the Christmas season as you sit next to your tree and read through all of the wonderful descriptions of our Lord. You may also use one ornament a day to focus your personal devotions on.
What we do: We began this tradition three years ago when we decided to make our Christmas Tree our Jesse Tree. The Sunday after Thanksgiving we put up our tree and decorate it with ribbon, lights and simple names of Jesus ornaments. We made ours by writing the names on pretty ball ornaments with paint pens. Then every night we hang a new Jesse Tree ornaments until the tree is filled with the story of Christ. Out of all of our traditions the “Names of Jesus” tradition is my favorite. It is such a blessing to read through all of the different descriptions of Christ together as a family.
Read through a Christmas Devotional during your personal devotions or as a married couple or as a family to help focus your heart(s) on what you are celebrating.
Suggested Devotional Resources:
- Come Though Long Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie (also the Book Club’s December read!)
- Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie (great for family use!)
- Why Christmas? by Barbara Reaoch (great for reading with children!)
Make use of Symbolism- Use deep red ribbon to decorate your Christmas tree in order to symbolize the blood that Jesus planned to shed for us even before he came to earth as the baby in the manger. As you decorate your tree with twinkly lights, remind yourself and your children that Christ came to be the Light of the World. As you decorate your home with lights, talk about how God calls us to be the light to a dark world. Just as our homes shine brightly in the darkness, we should seek to live holy lives that are different from the sinful world around us.
Further use of colors representations: Red for Jesus’ blood, Green for everlasting life, White for purity (both in Christ and in how he makes us white as snow), Gold for Christ’s Kingship. Remind yourself of these truths as you decorate and make sure to verbalize them throughout the holiday season for the benefit of your children. Meditate on a verse for each of the colors throughout the season. Decorate your home with angels who are “announcing” the coming messiah. Use a star to top your tree symbolizing the star that led to the baby Jesus in the manger. Consider waiting to place it on the top of the tree on Christmas Eve.
Gingerbread Gospel (For families with children)- There are a couple ways you can use the traditional “Gingerbread House” to focus on Christ. The first is by building a traditional house and relating it to the gospel message. Here is a way one mother does so:
“Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a life-sized gingerbread house? What would your favorite candy house be made out of? What would you use for beds, chairs, pillows, toys? (let the children offer ideas) That would almost seem like the perfect place to live, wouldn’t it? Well, the Bible tells us about a real live “perfect place to live.” It’s called Heaven. Long ago, that’s where Jesus lived. But God decided to send Jesus from His perfect house in Heaven to Earth. (John 6:38) What was the first house Jesus lived in on Earth (pause to let children answer)? It was a stable. What is a stable? (a barn) What would have it looked like? What would have been in that stable? What would it have smelled like? And Jesus’ first bed was a manger. What is a manger? (A feeding trough for animals) (Luke 2:1-7) Was it anything like the perfect place Jesus came from? Now, why do you think that God would send His own Son from a perfect house in heaven, to a dirty, smelly, cold place like a stable? (let children offer answers) Because He loves you very much! He wanted you to know Him and so He sent His Son to tell you and to show you all about God. Jesus did just that. He taught us about God, and the things that He taught are all written down for us in the Bible (John 3:16) One day, when Jesus was still a young man, He left His home on Earth. He died for all the bad things we’ve done. And now He has a new home. Do you know where that is? He wants to live in our hearts. He will come and live in our hearts if we ask Him to, and forgive us all of the wrong things we’ve done! (John 14:15-17) Now, why do you think He would want to live inside us, and forgive us of our sins? (pause for responses) He does that because He loves each one of you so much! He wants to always be close to you, and help you. Finally, the Bible says one more important thing about houses. It says that Jesus is preparing a house for each one of us in heaven! He says that one day, we can all live forever with Him there in that perfect, wonderful place! (Luke 1:31-33; John 6:38-40; John 14:1-3) Can you tell me what houses we have talked about that Jesus has lived in? (heaven, stable/earth, our hearts, and heaven again) Now, I want you to remember how much Jesus loves you every time you look at it. And I want you to remember that Jesus wants to live inside you, and to have you live with Him in Heaven someday.”
Another way to use gingerbread to focus your children’s hearts on Christ (and your own for that matter) is to build a gingerbread nativity scene rather than a house. There are nativity cookie cutters that can be used for this and as you bake and decorate the different characters you will be presented with another opportunity to share the story of the incarnation with your children.
Christmas Cookies with a Message- Many families set aside time to bake and decorate Christmas cookies during the holiday season to give away to neighbors, family members, and coworkers, but why not make cookies that share the Gospel message with your children and those who will receive your tasty treats?
Play Nativity Sets (for families with children)- use a children’s nativity set to act out the nativity story with your children over and over again during the holiday season. Let them keep the nativity in their room and play with it at will.
Suggested Nativity Sets:
Act Out the Nativity Story (for families with children)- Many families put on a little Christmas pageant of there own where each member of the family plays a role (Mary, Joseph, an Angel, etc…) reenacting the Christmas story either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Creative people can even make costumes!
Watch “The Nativity Story” as a family during the Christmas season.
We love this movie for the sole purpose of showing the reality of real people (Mary and Joseph) with real faults and fears being used by God during this miraculous event. I cry when Christ is born every time we watch it! We usually watch it on Christmas Eve.
Read the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth before opening presents. This simple tradition may have a tremendous impact on your children’s hearts as they learn to control their desire for presents and put Christ first in all things. Don’t rush through this activity and make sure that you are visibly excited to spend time with Jesus as a family on this very special morning-your enthusiasm will make a huge impact on their view of the activity.
Decorate with the Glory of God in Mind- So often we take our decorating cues from the world rather than thinking through our purpose in using such decorations. What do your decorations say about what you are celebrating? Reindeer and snowmen are not evil and can bring glory to the Lord, but they also may not be the most helpful for focusing your heart on Jesus. What’s worse, your children may grow up believing that Christmas is all about those things rather than the Holy Son of God. Let’s decorate our homes in a way that worships the the Lord! Try to make and find decorations that remind you of the miraculous event we are celebrating.