by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
A lovely, gold thread is woven throughout the Advent story. A commonality the major players in this amazing drama had even though they were all very different. Their lives a living psalm of praise, they responded with obedience. For instance, the Magi didn’t just observe the star, they followed it. Mary and Joseph did more than listen to angel messages, they complied with the heavenly directions. The shepherds, jumping for joy, hurried off to discover the kingly Babe. And the focus for all these journeys was Jesus, “the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:32)
The question remains for us, today. How do we, without the benefit of literal angel or star sightings, respond with what Paul referred to in his letter to the Christians in Rome – how do we respond with the ‘obedience of faith?’ (Rom. 1:5 and 16:26) Or putting it another way, how do we keep the Savior Jesus, at the center of our Christmas festivities?
It’s pretty late now to make any major changes to our holiday celebrations this year. There’s still time, however, to insert little maneuvers, here and there, that will better keep Jesus in focus.
Picture, if you will, that happy, hectic scene familiar to most. The gifts, so neatly arranged around the Christmas tree have been passed out to their intended recipients. Kids are delightedly playing with new toys. And, some careful soul is shaking the wrappings to make sure that nothing of value is missed.
Think of yourself as the tissue shaker. Take your family’s every significant commitment and shake it a bit – that is, pray about it – and see if you can make a slight addition or change to bring it into the realm of the ‘obedience of faith.’
Even better, enlist your children in this adventure. Share your concerns with them in kid-friendly ways. Let them come up with things they can make or do that will make a difference…contribute to your Christmas FITness.
Create three colorful circles of paper and post them in some place of high traffic in your home. On one circle, print a large capital F, on the next a capital I and on the last a T. Explain to your family members when you’re all together that they introduce a kind of Christmas FITness test.
The F stands for faithfulness. The I stands for intercession. The T for thankfulness and praise. The F reflects your spiritual life. The I reflects your prayer life on behalf of others. The T reflects your attitude and expressions of gratitude. When you look for little ways each day to keep FIT, you worship your Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus; you give God’s Spirit freedom to inspire and equip you. You are thus FIT to keep your focus on Jesus open and clear while going about many ordinary duties and special observances this time of the year.
Buy a large bag of multi-colored, individually wrapped Life Saver™ candies. Every time someone identifies an example of family-member faithfulness, intercession or thanksgiving, place a candy in a large glass container. Can you fill it up by Christmas Eve or Day? Even more important did you find yourself more often than before keeping Jesus as the center of your Christmas?
GREAT GIVER of all good gifts, teach us to give ourselves away. Replace our duty-driven gift exchanges with love like yours: freely offered, wrapped in simple homespun, unique and costly.