Tag Archives: Christmas

Keeping Christ in Christmas

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christmas1Gifts, holiday baking, shopping, Christmas trees, reindeer, Santa, decorating the house, Christmas parties, elf on a shelf…. Every year it seems that the focus of Christmas becomes more and more about gifts and shopping and less about the birth of our Savior. Most of us Christians, if we are honest, often get caught up in the secular excitement of the season and find it hard to balance the enjoyment of Christmas shopping and keeping the focus of Christmas on Christ. Romans 12:12 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.” How do we keep Christ in Christmas? What is the perfect medium to keeping the focus of Christmas on the birth of our Savior and still enjoy the great holiday shopping deals and buying gifts for others? Here are some fabulous suggestions from our readers and other great bloggers about how their families honor the holiness of our Savior’s birth.

Advent is the season leading up to Christmas and begins four Sundays before Christmas. Advent means “coming” and during these weeks, we devote special time remembering the coming of our Lord. We are blessed to know what God’s salvation looks like and have reason to celebrate. Here are several unique ways to observe advent:

The Ultimate Advent Bucket List for the Whole Family
Toilet Paper Roll Advent Calendar
30 Advent Ideas
Christmas with Advent

Christmas Bible lessons are a great way to dig deeper into the meaning of Christmas. Together as a family over a meal or individually, our hearts need to concentrate and be reminded on the reason for Christmas. Spend time reading and in prayer and allow Christ to reveal Himself more fully to you during this season.

Simple Christmas Bible Lessons
A Martyr’s Christmas Study
Printable Advent Devotional

Create specific trees to help teach the life of Christ. Have the kids build a Jesus Tree and introduce a new name for Jesus every night or a tree that chronicles the different Bible stories leading up to the birth of Christ. Having fun and learning at the same time, it’s a win-win for everyone.

The Names of Jesus
Jesse Tree
From the Jesse Tree to the Jesus Tree
Jesus Tree Readings

Christmas cards… are you more excited to send them or receive them? Be mindful about the cards you send as well as the cards you receive. Pray for the families that you send your cards to and pray for those who send you cards. Here are some crafty methods to paying for those families throughout the coming year:

Prayer Wheel
Statement Wall
Prayer Box

Make a birthday cake for Jesus and rejoice with a birthday party. After all, we are celebrating the day of our Savior’s birth and this is definitely a reason to celebrate! Don’t forget to light the candles and sing Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Happy Birthday, Jesus Cake
A Birthday Cake for Jesus

Get creative when your family retells the story of Jesus’ birth. Act it out together, make it a game, or tell the story over a period of time. Here are some fun and imaginative ways to tell the story of the nativity:

Nativity in a Box
12 Ways to Make the Christmas Story Come Alive for Kids
5 Creative Ways to Teach the Christmas Nativity Story
Creative Ways to Teach the Kids the True Meaning of Christmas
Teaching Through the Nativity

Many families have adopted the idea of giving their children three gifts for Christmas. Each gift symbolizes the three gifts Jesus received – frankincense, gold, and myrrh. This is an easy way to minimalize Christmas spending and still keeping the focus of gift-giving on Christ.

The 3-Gift Christmas
Three Gift Tradition

Keep gift giving simple. Your gifts to others do not need to be elaborate and they truly do not need to drain your bank account. Spend more time in prayer about your gifts and their meaning to the recipient and less amount of time on giving the “best” or most extravagant gift.

Homemade Christmas Gifts
Keep Christmas Gift Giving Under Control

Does your family celebrate the season in a unique fashion? Do you have special family traditions that you want to share with our readers? Leave a comment and share with us your family’s special traditions!

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You might also like:
1. Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?
2. Does Santa Belong in our Christmas Celebrations?

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Does Santa Belong in our Christmas Celebrations?

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santa

Many of us grew up believing Santa Claus magically whisked down our chimneys and left us gifts below the twinkling lights of our Christmas trees. Some of us have even carried on that tradition with our own children. There are also plenty of families who have opted out of the Santa Claus myth altogether refusing to lie to their children. Some families also remove Santa Claus from their families traditions because they fear this mystical character takes the focus away from the celebratory birth of our Savior, which is a valid concern.

So who is Santa Claus? The legend of Santa Claus begins with Saint Nicholas, a man who dedicated his life to serving God and giving generously to the poor. Saint Nicholas was born in a village in Patara, which is the village now known as Demre, Turkey. His wealthy parents died when he was a young child leaving him their full inheritance. Saint Nicholas obeyed Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:21, “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” His compassion and dedication to serving God eventually earned him the title of Bishop of Myra.

During this time, many Christians were being persecuted under the Roman Emperor Diocletian and Bishop Nicholas, along with other clergy and Christians, suffered greatly for his faith. He was exiled and persecuted but persevered through the persecution and was ultimately released. Saint Nicholas continued a life of serving God and others and doing good deeds to those who least expected it. He did all of these things without recognition and did so with a humble heart and a focus on Christ.

There are stories upon stories told over the years of Saint Nicholas charitably giving to others – the poor, innocent children, and even sailors. One extraordinary story tells of a poor ancient merchant who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters to be married. Without a dowry, the daughters were destined to be sold into slavery or prostitution. On three different nights, bags of gold were secretly left through an open window and found in a stocking or shoe that sat near the fireplace. These gifts of gold saved the lives of the merchant’s daughters.

Saint Nicholas’ legacy has been carried on over the centuries by Roman Catholics as well as Christians and has expanded throughout many different countries. Many believing his model for serving Christ and his unselfish giving are worthy qualities to be remembered during this season. Whether you celebrate the Christmas season with the tradition of Saint Nicholas or not, we must all agree he was a great God-honoring man who served Christ with his whole heart. He gave up wealth and even his own freedom answering Christ’s call to serve others. Is there any real harm by bringing this man’s legacy into your Christmas traditions? It’s definitely not a sin to do so! After all, we remember many other remarkable people who have also served Christ and lived Godly examples of what it means to be a Christian.

I also want to add that if your reason for not allowing Santa Claus in your family’s traditions is because of the potential “lie” being told to your children, think carefully about fairytales and other fictional characters allowed in your children’s lives. Remember that while we may fully understand that princesses and superheroes are make-believe, our children may not understand this. I say this to make sure you are staying consistent with your beliefs about not lying to your children.

And for those who choose to carry on the legacy of giving anonymously as Old Saint Nicholas did for years, do so with a humble heart and not for recognition. When you’re children are old enough to understand the faith and history of St. Nick, teach them how to be meek and reverent when serving others as Christ served the church. There is also the option to carry on the tradition of Saint Nicholas and being truthful from the beginning of your child’s lives.

While Saint Nicholas was a great man of noble character and performed many wonderful good deeds, the Christmas season is not about Santa Claus or any other holiday character. It’s about Jesus. However you choose to celebrate, the focus of the season needs to be put on Christ and Christ alone. We can do many things throughout the year and even mimic the lives of other wonderful Christians, but we must always give thanks to Christ and ultimately desire Him to be our one true Guide.

We must also remember to be respectful towards others regardless of how they choose to celebrate Christmas. Let us not judge others for their choices to include or not include the tradition of Saint Nicholas. We are only called to judge others’ sins, and remembering the legacy of Saint Nicholas is not a sin and it’s definitely not worthy of our strife. Make your life a living example of how Christ lived and served and ask God for others to see His light through you.

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You might also like:
1. Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?
2. Keeping Christ in Christmas

Does X-Mas Take the Christ out of Christmas?

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jesusIs there really any truth to the saying that when someone writes “X-Mas” that they are intending to keep “Christ” out of Christmas?  Is it true when people write “X-Mas” that they are claiming to be non-religious and yet still celebrating a religious holiday?  Should Christians be offended when we see others shortening the name of our Savior and taking the word “Christ” out of Christmas?

I admit I’ve always been a bit insulted when I see the shortened version of Christmas.  I’ve always justified my offense with the statement that Christ gave us His ALL, including His life, why would anyone save time and shorten His name?  Surely the Savior deserves His full name to be written out during this precious time of remembrance!  This year I decided to dig a bit deeper and search for the truth behind this issue.

I confess… I was definitely surprised!

The “X-Mas” abbreviation is neither recent nor disrespectful as many people believe.  The usage of “X-Mas” has been in use for centuries, possibly as far back as the very beginning of Christianity.  Its Greek origins can even be traced back to the Roman alphabet.  The Greek word for “Christ” is “chi” and the Greek letter for “chi” is represented by the symbol “X” in the modern Roman alphabet.

The fact remains – the X-Mas abbreviation was NOT created to slight Christianity or fashioned for the purpose of demeaning Christ in any manner.  While the abbreviation is definitely an old form of writing from a very different language, it may still cause offense to those who do not know the history of the abbreviation.

Study the facts and be ready to share when you see someone who feels insulted by this abbreviation.  Extend grace to those who choose to shorten the word “Christmas” because they may have absolutely no intention of keeping the “Christ” out of Christmas and were just quick to write the word down.

And most importantly, the method in which someone writes the word “Christmas” is NOT an appropriate time to judge anyone.  Even if you are still offended by the use of “X-Mas”, this is not a sin and we are not called to judge anyone based on their mode of writing.  We do not know their hearts or their intent when abbreviating the word Christmas and therefore we are not to cast judgment based on something so futile.  What we can do is extend grace to those who may offend us and remind ourselves that the abbreviated form has been used for centuries and really does have origins in Christ.

Other fun facts about “X-Mas”:

  • Chi is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός which translates in English to Christ.
  • The –mas in the word Christmas is a Latin-originated Old English term for “mass”.
  • The expression X-Mas was very popular for religious scribes, who are believed to have started the abbreviation for Christmas.
  • The XP symbol is derived from the Greek letter “X” (Chi) and “P” (Rho).  This christogram is formed by overlaying the two letters to create a monogram.  Although the XP monogram is not exactly a Christian cross, the Chi-Rho letters do resemble a cross.
  • The Chi-Rho symbol was used by Greek scribes to mark respected or significant passages.
  • The wreath around the Chi-Rho symbol signifies the victory over the resurrection over death.

You might also like:
1. Biblical Judgment
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3. Does Santa Belong in our Christmas Celebrations?
4. Keeping Christ in Christmas