Preparing for Christmas: Tips for keeping the holiday season holy
Are you ready for Christmas?
Instead of worrying, what if we thought about Advent a little differently, and our “getting ready” could more of a holy time.
Most of us strive to “keep Christ in Christmas,” but the busyness has a way of encroaching upon our joy and worship. We might benefit from deciding to make time for some important activities, as we get ready for Christmas.
Adopt a new season of Advent
Attending worship is an important part of the Advent season. If you do not currently have a church home, plan on trying a new service this year.
Worship and devotion
Worship with your church. Your congregation will probably hold some special services throughout the Christmas season. In addition to Sunday worship during Advent and Candlelight Christmas Eve services, plan to attend the children’s Christmas pageant, the choir concert, and the Longest Night/Blue Christmas services. If you do not have a regular congregation with whom you worship, find one near you. If you used to attend and have not been lately, this the perfect time to return.
Worship with your family Purchase or make an Advent wreath and hold a small service each Sunday night to help everyone in the family get ready for Jesus’ birth.
Spending time alone with God can be a great way to draw closer.
Decorating and baking
Pray through your decorating. Many of our Christmas decorations have religious significance. The wreath is round reminding us of the constancy of God. The Christmas tree is an evergreen, a reminder that God’s promises never fail. Even the lights can serve as reminders that Jesus is the light of world! Not to mention the nativity scene on the coffee table and the angels on the special Christmas party napkins. Whether decorating yourself or enjoying others’ displays, let the images spur you to prayers of gratitude.
Bake some extra
When baking for guests, the cookie swap, or to give as gifts, take a few extra moments and make one more batch to give away. Then visit the local homeless shelter, food bank, first responders, or others with whom you want to share.
Set up a Jesse Tree
A Jesse Tree can be used as different kind of Advent calendar. Each day an ornament is added to the tree. The ornaments are reminders of the story of our faith from creation to the birth of Jesus. As the tree fills, we are moving closer and closer to Christmas Day. Remember. These preparations are sometimes filled with memories—ornaments from our childhood Christmas tree, recipes your first learned from your grandmother, and more. Take the time to savor the memories and give thanks for the saints who have lived before you.
Join a Sunday school class or Bible study. Many congregations will offer special Advent education opportunities. These are wonderful times to learn something new, and to connect with others who are getting their souls ready for the coming of Christ.
Study the Bible
The story of God coming to us in the person of Jesus—the incarnation—is central to our Christian faith. Get a good, devotional Bible study guide and delve into the meaning of Christmas from a new angle.
Read a book
Maybe you have always wanted to know more about the theology of the incarnation or have always wanted to re-read Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. Set aside some time every day to dive into a good book just for fun, or to learn something about Christmas.
Serving others is a wonderful way to celebrate Advent. This group is making sandwiches for people in need.
Give fair trade
Fair trade gifts support companies that pay their workers a livable wage. These workers are then able to support their families and contribute to a just and sustainable economy.
Find a mission that your congregation supports, or a neighbor who needs a hand and make a gift of your time. You might rake leaves, drive to doctor’s appointments, work at the soup kitchen, or take a meal over once-a-week.
Support the ministries and missions of your congregation, and your community.
Christmas music is everywhere. Join in the song.
Write a poem or song. Paint. Create a collage. Crochet. Work with wood. Use your talents and abilities in celebration of the season and thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus.
Throw a party!
Children love birthday parties, so have your kids invite some of their friends to your house for a birthday party for Jesus during winter break. Play games, have some cake and ice cream. Mix birthday and Christmas traditions. Or invite friends over to celebrate Las Posadas, remembering that as Jesus has welcomed us, we are to welcome others.
Enjoy the food
You may not need to be encouraged for this one, but remember the gift of food—even holiday treats—though not to excess. Let the abundance of good food be a reminder of the provision of God. “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8).
Be kind to yourself
Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves during this busy time. Give yourself permission to miss a party or two. Choose to be with family, to spend time alone, to see your child’s Christmas choir concert at school, and enjoy the season.
Adapted from www.umc.org