Monday, November 18, 2013

let every heart {and home} prepare Him room

There are so many blog posts about how to keep Christ in Christmas that it can seem a little overwhelming.
I thought I'd just post a few things here that are simple, make beautiful memories and really allow the true meaning of the season to sink into the busy heads and hearts of our families.
These ideas are, if you will, "space-makers" to truly prepare Him room.

Christmas can and should involve all the senses!  Sound, sight, taste, touch, smell.  Using all our sense gives the season a heightened importance and creates an atmosphere of anticipation in the house.  After all, that is what Advent means - "coming" from the Latin word adventus.  We are celebrating not only Jesus "coming" as a baby into our world, but also preparing our hearts for the day when he is "coming" back.
Let our hearts and homes prepare Him room!

1.  The Language of the

As soon as the supermarkets start playing Christmas carols - so do we.
Not the excruciating supermarket kind, but the beautiful Amy Grant, Hillsong, Michael W. Smith variety.  Bringing back the classic Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra is pretty fab too.
The kids know that as soon as those carols start playing, change is afoot!
I love that!  There is a paradigm shift in our house.  We are in a season of preparation, anticipation and joy. {also a season of end of year concerts which heralds the upbeat carols are really, really helpful}

2.  Fill the home with light and fragrance

 If you don't normally have a lit candle at the dinner table, or in the home generally, light a candle each day of Advent.  It will prompt questions from the kids.  
Why do we have that candle on?  
Can I light the candle tonight?  
It builds anticipation, promotes questions, gives you a chance to relate stories of Jesus being the "Light of the World" etc.  It also shows guests in your home that this is a special time of year. Something is different. As a bonus, your home gets to smell like Christmas! Glasshouse have a lovely range which can be found in most homewares stores.

3.  Undertake a personal Advent devotional.

I usually choose a different one each year.  This year I'm doing this:

When you purchase the book you also get to download free printable ornaments for a Jesse Tree or your Christmas tree which is a bonus! 

I also really like the sound of "The Women of Christmas" devotional, but I'd already bought The Greatest Gift.  I think I'll do it next year:

4.  Do an Advent devotional with the kids.

If you have kids and you haven't got the Jesus Storybook Bible - run, don't walk girlfriends.  The "tag" line of this bible is that "every story whispers His name".  Although it is labelled a children's bible, I have found it to be profoundly moving for me also.  Every chapter from Genesis through to Revelation does indeed whisper Jesus' name.  It makes such great sense of the bible for kids, the way God fulfils His promises always.  It just so happens that if you read the first 25 chapters {they're only a few pages long} you will have a magnificently encapsulated Advent story.

 5.   Christmas Craft for the Kids

Jesus,  King of Kings, The Vine, The Word, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Messiah, Saviour, Alpha and Omega, Light of the World, Redeemer, Bright and Morning Star, I AM, The Good Shepard, Bread of Life, Living Water, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Rock of Ages, Jehovah, Truth and the Life, The Great Physician, The Lord of Glory, Wonderful, Counsellor

6.  Print out some cool faith-based Christmas posters to put up around the house:

You can find all of these on my Pinterest account here

7.  Invite friends and/or neighbours to a Carols by Candlelight event

Such an easy, gentle way to start a conversation with friends who might not be aware of the real Advent story.  Break bread together, sing some songs, get to know each other better in a relaxed setting.  It also allows you to easily invite them to attend church with you on Christmas morning {or whenever you're attending}.  So many people would love to celebrate Christmas at a church, but just haven't been invited.  If you're a bit shy, this is a great way to start a conversation.

8.  Make your Christmas cards and gift tags faith-based rather than Santa based.

You don't have to necessarily send a hard-core Scripture epistle to your friends who don't share your faith, this can sometimes defeat the purpose.  Harsh, but true.  Far better to send a beautiful card with a gentle, yet consistent message about what you'll be celebrating this season and what you wish for theirs.

9. Give God a special gift that's just between you and Him.

Maybe your gift this Christmas is to forgive someone - even when they don't want it.  Perhaps you could set aside time each day - a sacrifice of time per se - that is devoted purely to Him.  It could be visiting someone who is lonely and needs to be loved on.  Perhaps it could be praying a really scary prayer that you're not sure you're brave enough to do.  Step out in faith and do it anyway!  This is not something that you necessarily need to tell anyone else about.  It can just be a little gift giving between you and your Abba Father.


Fix your eyes on Jesus.  

When the in-laws criticise the Christmas Day arrangements - fix your eyes on Jesus.
When there's not enough money for the one toy your child really, really wants - fix your eyes on Jesus
When your house just won't stay tidy for longer than five minutes - fix your eyes on Jesus.
When it feels like the joy of the season is just not present - fix your eyes on Jesus.
When you are bone weary from end of year engagements - fix your eyes on Jesus.

My children joke that in their Biblical Studies exams as long as they answer "Jesus" they really should get 100%.  Their reasoning is that we always say the answer to any question is "Jesus".  As a side story,  Jack answered  "Cheeseballs" once and that didn't work out very well for him.

So fix your eyes on Jesus,  not cheeseballs.

And finally, as a lovely minister I know says:

"Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who may Christmas against us."  

Meredy xo

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