A Christ-Centered Christmas

The world does its best to get Christ out of Christmas. ‘Happy Holidays’ has replaced ‘Happy Christmas’. The spotlight is on Santa, not on Jesus Christ. We hear more about Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday discounts, than about the true Christmas story. Christmas has become consumed with commercialism instead of being Christ-centered as it should be. Which got me thinking, what kind of Christmas are our children growing up around? Is it all about Santa and presents? Do they know the true meaning of Christmas even as they glimpse the Christmas the world portrays to them?

One of our favorite Christmas songs to play is ‘It’s about the Cross’. The chorus goes like this:

It’s about the cross, It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again
It’s about the stone, that was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday
It’s about the cross.

The most integral part of Christmas is not really that Jesus came, but WHY He came. His birth alone does not bring us salvation. Nor does the sinless, perfect life He lived have any redemptive power on its own. His teaching, as life-changing as it was; even His immaculate example, could not save us from our sins. It was only His death on the cross. It was a price that only He could pay that saved us from eternal death. Jesus was born to do many great things – to fulfil the Law, to reveal God to mankind, to teach Truth, to show us how to live, to bring peace and joy. But the ultimate reason He came to earth was so He might die. Christmas has always been about the cross. And this is something we need to teach our children from a young age. This is something they must be reminded of, not just at Christmas, but everyday of their lives.

As Christian parents raising kids in the kind of world we live in, we have to be very intentional and purposeful about filtering what goes into these little minds. I heard this statement on one of my new favorite podcasts (Raising Cross-formed Kids), and I love it!

“Raising Christian kids is always a miracle but never an accident.”

Isn’t it so true? It is never an accident. There’s a lot of work involved in raising kids who grow up to know, love, and follow God. And the work must be done by us. After all that work, it is still a miracle if they do choose to follow Christ. A miracle we get to witness and be blessed by!

So, in the spirit of intentionally parenting in all areas, including Christmas; here are a few ideas for a Christ-centered and fun Christmas as a family.

Countdown to Christmas with a Christ-centered Advent Calendar

The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming.’ The dictionary defines advent as “The coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note.” In our family we like to build an expectation for important dates- birthdays, holidays, a special visit from a friend and even Christmas. There’s something very exciting about striking off days on the calendar while you anticipate something wonderful!

Because of the excitement that builds up in their hearts as we countdown to Christmas, we are able to give our children a glimpse of the longing in the hearts of the Israelites for their Messiah. They understand in a small way how the Israelites must have felt as they anticipated the coming of the Messiah for years. We are also able to explain to them that advent also depicts how we wait and long for Christ to return again to take us to be with Him.

This year we’re using a “Names of Jesus Advent Calendar” from our SHOP to help us countdown to Christmas. Every day we turn over a card and learn a new name for our Lord. In the past six days, we’ve seen Him as the Alpha and the Omega, The Word, Immanuel, the Son of God, Messiah, and Wonderful Counselor. Through these names and the corresponding verses, we are able to have wonderful conversations about God with our girls.

On Christmas morning, the girls usually get books; Christian books that I look for and earmark for Christmas. So, it’s really not that we are counting down to Christmas for elaborate presents or anything like that. It’s the whole process- the wonder and excitement of having a break from the mundane, the joy of being together with family, and the amazement of knowing that Jesus’ birth is the reason we can experience Immanuel – God WITH us.

Do Family Devotions with a Special Christmas Devotional

This is something we’ve been doing for a few years now. On December 1st we put aside our regular reading and use a Christmas devotional. It’s just an added element of something “different” and it also keeps our focus on the true reason for the season- Jesus Christ!

I’ve put together a list of Christ-centered Christmas devotionals that can be used for the whole family.

The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide by Sally Lloyd Jones

We love the Jesus Storybook Bible at our house and we’ve used it as an advent devotional for two years now. It’s great if you have little kids. There are 24 chapters/stories in the book and each chapter corresponds to one day’s devotion. It’s a beautiful “journey through the story of God’s great love for us–from the very beginnings of the universe, to the birth of the baby who would rescue the whole world.” This is a free download that includes a reading guide, printable ornaments, activity ideas, and coloring pages. I highly recommend it!

Reason for the Season

This free resource contains 24 Family Devotions that will put the focus back on Christ and Christmas. Starting December 1st there is a verse, discussion starter, short lesson, activity, prayer and then an optional extra activity that you can do with your children.

Behold your King

9781989169087

This is the devotional we are using this year. It’s probably a little high-level for my 4 year old, but we make sure she gets something out if it! Each day there is a promise from the Old Testament and then a passage from the New Testament where we see fulfillment of that promise in Christ Jesus. It also includes a Christmas hymn to sing each day with the sheet music, which is great for music lovers! We love the reflection questions at the end that reiterate the truth emphasized in the passage and inspire engaging and interesting conversations!

For families with teens or older kids I would recommend:

Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp,

Good News of Great Joy by John Piper

Arrival: Preparing to Celebrate Christ’s Birth by the Billy Graham Association

Read Christ-centered Christmas Books

If you know our family, you know we are a book-loving, book-hoarding family! We read all all year round and Christmas time is no exception.

Here are a few of our favorite Christ-centered Christmas books:

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross by Carl Laferton

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The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross (Tales that Tell the Truth)

Some may label this a book for Easter but I would very much include this in my Christmas book list, because as I emphasized before, Christmas is all about the cross.

The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell

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The Christmas Promise

Using simple sentences and beautiful illustrations, this board book introduces young children to the events of the very first Christmas.

The Small One by Alex Walsh

This book costs a bomb on Amazon India so if there is any way you can get it from elsewhere that would be the best. The story follows a young boy from Nazareth who sells his beloved donkey, Small One, to a man who needs one to carry his wife, Mary, to Bethlehem. 

A Donkey’s Little Tale by R. Mitchell Scott

This is a beautiful re-telling of the Christmas story, as witnessed through the eyes of the little donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem. 

Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck

This book tells the Christmas story with simple, rhythmic text and large pictures – perfect for the little children of the family.  

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

This beautiful folktale tells the Christmas and Easter story in a unique point of view. It is the story of three trees that grow up to be Jesus’ manger, boat, and cross. 

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd Jones

This Christmas book conveys the most powerful message to little children in simple words- the message of what the incarnation means, not just to humans, but to an entire broken planet.

Christmas Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist

The book includes seven stories, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy and ending with the visit of the wise men. Following each story, the child will find his or her own letter from God, folded into a small envelope attached to the page. Each story is also accompanied by a Bible verse with a promise.

Play Christ-centered Christmas Music

Christmas carols and hymns are a huge part of the Christmas celebration. Although Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer are fun to sing, there are a few reasons why we must have Christ-centered Christmas songs with good theology fill our homes and hearts. One, such songs help us mediate on God’s truth. Two, they can inspire our worship of God. Three, they keep the focus on the real reason for the celebration, and four, they can be great for starting a conversation about the meaning behind Christmas.

Here is a list of some excellent Christ-centered songs.

It’s About the Cross by Go Fish

Mary, Did you Know? By Pentatonix

Go, Tell it on the Mountain by David Crowder Band

What Child is This by Mercy Me

The First Noel by Carrie Underwood

O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Enya

O Come, All Ye Faithful by Britt Nicole

The Light of the World by Cathy Burton

Joy to the World by Bing Crosby

One King by Point of Grace

Christ is Born by The Carpenters

Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) by Chris Tomlin

The Heart of Christmas by Matthew West

O Little Town of Bethlehem by VoicePlay

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Kutless

Oh Holy Night by HomeTown

These are only a handful of the rich and meaningful Christmas carols that can be found today. Hope this list gets you started in compiling your own playlist for the same!

Make it a Joyous Celebration with Fun Activities!

We want our kids to know the real and true meaning of Christmas, which is in fact that Christmas is about the cross. Jesus left heaven’s glory to come down to earth to rescue us. We tell them that EVERY DAY. We tell them we must remember and thank God for sending Jesus, and not just on Sunday, not just at Christmas, but EVERY SINGLE DAY. When we are purposeful and intentional about this all year long, Christmas carries a lot less weight. Nevertheless, we want to enjoy Christmas and CELEBRATE Jesus’ birth and sacrifice. Because it is GOOD news! And we always celebrate good news!

However your family chooses to celebrate our Savior’s birth, do it with great joy, because the day Jesus was born, there was great joy in all of heaven and earth. The angels’ message to the shepherds was just that- “I bring you good news of GREAT JOY.” So why should we not be filled with great joy at this wonderfully amazing GOOD news that led to our salvation? I believe the Lord truly delights in our joy as we delight in Him. So, let us be JOYFUL this Christmas!

Like I said we don’t do elaborate presents or Santa at our house. Our kids know Santa isn’t real, but we do want to have an enjoyable time too! So, in order to add an element of fun for the kids, we put together a list of advent activities to do together as a family starting Dec 1st and leading up to the 25th of December. This is a family tradition that we began two years ago and we love it! It brings us closer when we spend time together on specific activities, as we talk and learn more about the Greatest Gift- Jesus Christ!

Here’s what’s on our list for Advent 2021. (Click here to download a printable – Simply print it out, cut it up and use it for your family!)

  1. Put up the Christmas tree
  2. Read the Christmas story and color together
  3. Pray for friends/family who don’t know Jesus
  4. Call someone and tell them you love them (I got a few ideas this year from a friend)
  5. Cuddle up and go through old videos
  6. Create the nativity scene with Legos
  7. Write a note and send a gift to a missionary
  8. Family drawing night
  9. Help someone with their chore
  10. Make Christmas cards for friends and family
  11. Watch a Christmas movie
  12. Go for a long drive
  13. Hot chocolate by the tree
  14. Christmas dance party!
  15. Sleepover by the tree
  16. Learn a new carol
  17. Do something kind for someone
  18. Make DIY tree ornaments
  19. Make Christmas cookies for neighbors
  20. Take family pictures
  21. Donate toys/clothes
  22. Invite a family for dinner
  23. Family game night
  24. Share one happy memory from this year
  25. Merry Christmas!

Matthew 1:23 says “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Emmanuel. Christmas is about God making a way to mend the rift that occurred between Him and us as a result of sin. Jesus is the bridge that brought us back to God. Emmanuel. Jesus made a way for God to be with us.

GOD with us. This GREAT Almighty GOD is with us.

God WITH us. He is WITH us. We aren’t alone any more. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

God with US. He is with US- insignificant, puny humans who were enemies with Him. We went against everything that was important to God. We were drowning in our sin and self-righteousness. YET, He is with US. He makes US whole. He calls US sons and daughters and heirs. He redeems US with His precious blood. He laid down His life for US.

That is Christmas, dear friend. And if we truly want to have a Christ-centered Christmas, we must follow Christ’s example. A true Christ-centered Christmas is going to take humbling ourselves. It is going to take laying down our lives for others. It is going to take putting others before ourselves, be it at home or outside.

This is a question I am asking myself and I encourage you to ask yourself too: Am I going to have a truly Christ-centered Christmas this year?

HAVE A JOYOUS AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS, FRIEND!

What are your favorite Christ-centered Christmas traditions? Leave a comment below!

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