December is very close. There are a lot of parties here and there. Christmas is a holiday that is celebrated with decorations, songs, presents, feasts, and parties. Even non-Christians are usually engaged in some non-religious celebrations as Christmas in some countries is considered a cultural event. It is a great thing for all people in the world, as there should be more tolerance and less discrimination in one way. It is not only from a point of view of Christians, but some non-Christians might agree to some extent.
The question is how do Christians celebrate Christmas differently from non-Christians? The religious aspects defining Christmas should shape different appreciation toward Christmas. The preparation leading up to Christmas is also different for each individual. Some Christians are allowed to celebrate Christmas earlier, while others have a strict tradition of Advent.
Existing in the middle of a plural world at Christmastime is quite difficult for most Christians. It is a great challenge to prepare for Christmas with devotions. Devotions will remind us about the covenant between God and humans to give His only Son Jesus to redeem our sins. There are a lot of temptations to clean ourselves up and get ready to welcome Baby Jesus in our heart, but they fail.
Here are some things to consider in preparing for Christmas with devotions:
Check Up Your Heart
Christmas and New Years incidentally occur close to each other. It is the time for everyone to give their religious life or religious experiences a check up. Some reflection questions can be included here:
- Do we have special time to have conversation with God in prayer?
- Do we try to know God better by reading and listening to His words in the Bible?
- How do we act out our religious principles in real life?
- Do we deserve to be called the child of The King?
- Do we let Jesus come into our hearts?
Make up some more reflection questions of your own and add them to the list.
Involve Your Family
There should be a private time with God to give us more freedom to speak, but it would be great if we have another span of time to get our family to do devotions together as Jesus said:
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.Mathew 18:20
Time is very difficult to get. Being committed to do devotions means being ready to spare a quiet time consistently. There are 24 hours in a day. Giving 15-20 minutes for God should be not as hard as we think. However, we need to pray for this purpose so that the Holy Spirit will lead our thoughts and thirst for God so that we can reject the temptation and interruptions.
There are a lot of kinds of devotions available for either individuals or families for Advent or the heart preparation to welcome Christmas. Here are some common structures of the devotions:
- Remembering and recounting the Story from creation of of the world to the Nativity
- Telling the story and characters of Christmas
- Talking about the character Jesus
- Discussing the Biblical and traditional approach to Christmas
Here are a couple suggestions for Christmas devotions:
More Than A Holiday is a series of 25 days of devotions for Advent. There are 5 parts to the devotion:
- Is the Christmas Story Real? (1-3 December)
- The Christmas Story (4 December)
- The Characters of Christmas Story (5-12 December)
- The Elements of the Christmas Story (13-21 December)
- Why is the Christmas Story Important for Us? (22-25 December)
Each part has some sections:
- A Closer Look
- Daily Devotion
- Let’s Talk
- Family Time Activity
And the Word Became Flesh: A 90-Day Chronological Journey Through the New Testament is not really aimed for Advent, but it is great to start in Advent to help you think deeper about the New Testament and the fulfillment of God’s covenant through His Son Jesus Christ and church.
Jesus, Light of the World: Praying the Scriptures Through Advent will help us think deeper during the Advent period about the existence of Jesus.
Record Your Reflection
Having a written or spoken record of your reflection in devotion time will be very helpful for yourself when you read it in the future. Recorded devotion will be very helpful for our personal religious growth. We will be able to express our feelings and thoughts to God in well-organized way. There are a lot of ways to record your reflection or devotion. One of them is the SOAP method. You might visit Good Morning Girls to know more about SOAP.
Use Some Christmas Traditions
There are some ways to do devotions as you prepare for Christmas. You might have heard some about the Advent wreath and the Jesse Tree.
- Advent Wreath
It is a tradition of using 4 candles, lit one by one in each week of devotion. The first week a candle will be lit, and the second week, two candles will be lit, and so on. I found a very interesting post about the Advent Wreath in Catholic.
- Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree is a series of Bible readings and reflections that is based on the plot of Jesus’ family tree from the ancestors of Adam and Eve. Here are some free resources for Jesse Trees:
The Jesse Tree Advent Study by Confessions of A Homeschooler
Free Jesse Tree Advent Patterns
Get Deeper in Your Devotion with Some Christmas Hymn Practice
As we are preparing our hearts for Christ, it is great to practice some Christmas hymns with your family and get deeper into their meanings. Here are some Christmas song studies you can enjoy during the Advent:
Go into Action
Praying and reading the Bible will not be enough to prepare your heart for the coming of Baby Jesus. A real action to help others and to become more caring to people will make what we pray and read in the devotions more real and meaningful. It is not about the party only, but it is also about feeling more attentive and sensitive towards other people, especially those who need more help.
Have can you prepare your heart to welcome Baby Jesus?