Last week’s message included a plea for help from a family with no way to provide Christmas for their children. Question: How do you justify all of this Christmas extravagance to a poorer child surrounded by other children loaded with more toys than they can ever use? “Christmas is for others, but not for you?” Christmas was never meant to be that way.
When Mary received the gift of God’s precious son she responded with praise: “Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he, the Mighty One, is holy and he has done great things for me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation to all who fear him.” (Luke 1:46-50)
Christmas presents were meant to be symbolic of God’s gift of the Christ child. What Jesus has given to us; we pass on to others as our way of saying: “I love you in the name of Christ!” The challenge is to broaden our horizons and creatively give to those in need. How did we get everything so mixed-up? How can we change? How can we recapture the Christ in Christmas?
Our readers responded with lively and creative ways to remember the real reason for the season:
- “I too, get bothered when people say they can’t have Christmas if they don’t have money for presents. We deliberately do not put up a tree or give presents because that forces us to stay focused on the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas. So many people say they wish they could take the stress and commercialism out of Christmas. They could if they wanted to — just stop buying presents! Work in a soup kitchen or collect food for a food bank.” — Michael
- “A friend gave my children a choice where they wanted a donation sent on their behalf for Christmas. She honored them with a gift. They thought of others and gave as well.” — Linda
Mary’s song of praise continues: “His mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.” (51-52)
- “It is hard to keep the real spirit of Christmas and we’re not always successful but here are things we do: We watch very little commercial TV and try to attend all the church activities to celebrate Christmas. We put up a nativity set and read the “Christmas story” and refer to Christmas as “Jesus’ birthday.” We support mission activities and have the kids participate by taking them along while grocery shopping to buy food for a local pantry. — Kristin
- “I am a single parent with four teenagers so I’m always on the lookout for ways to de-commercialize Christmas. We have a “manger” and during the month of December whenever my children do or say something nice, they add a piece of straw. By Christmas Eve, Jesus has a soft place to lay his head. Also, we make a big deal about home made presents.” — Karen
“He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.” (52-53)
- “We have a stocking with Jesus name on it and each family member writes a note to Jesus and we read it on Christmas day. I bake a birthday cake and we sing happy birthday.” — Carol
- “Together we make an advent wreath, share devotions each week and light the candle(s). It’s fun and helps us reinforce the true meaning of the season.” — Christy
“He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful. For he promised our ancestors – Abraham and his children – to be merciful to them forever.” (54-55)
- “In the 80s we were unable to sell our house in Houston for seven years. The children were young during that time and we barely had enough to eat — relying mostly on beans and cornbread. One simple idea we used: An advent candle brought home from Sunday School helped our family focus on the real meaning of Christmas. It was a tuna can filled with plastic holly and a tall, slender red candle. A booklet was sent home along with it with Bible verses for each day of Advent, as the story of Christmas unfolded for the children in understandable bits. Families were told to light the candle each evening after supper, read the day’s lesson and discuss it and then pray together as a family. It was the best Christmas ever. — Bonnie
Next week: A special story sent in by one of our readers in Canada that will make you cry.