We ministered in Tallahassee this weekend at Freedom Church. My dear friends Kyle and Becky Alford are the Family and Children’s pastors there. They are passionate God chasers that are shaping lives with the Word of God. I was invited to minister to the parents during the Sunday School hour, the church family in the main worship service and Children’s Ministry Leaders late that afternoon. My day was packed with loving people, excited believers and a sense of faith that permeated everything they do. It is a wonderful church that is impacting lives with the love of God and the Truth of God’s Word.
My day was literally filled with special, memorable moments and people, still one little guy was extra special. His mom introduced each of her three children by name and they greeted me politely. (Don’t you just love it when children have good manners!) The least little fellow bubbled, “Do you know how many days until Christmas?”
I asked, “How many days?”
His answer exploded from his mouth, “Twenty-three days!” While I don’t know much about this little guy beyond the fact that he was absolutely adorable, my guess is, there is ONE thing driving his excitement and it’s not the meal they’ll eat at lunchtime. I’m guessing that his excitement has something to do with the presents.
I remember that same excitement from my children. In order to savor their joy and excitement, we took turns opening presents. Wayne and I wanted to watch them open their presents, and if we didn’t have them take turns they ripped everything open at once and we didn’t get to see it. Their excitement is still etched in the halls of my most treasured memories. They would jump and scream and hoot and holler when they opened their gifts. Sometimes they would run and hug us; sometimes they wouldn’t want to open anything else because they wanted to play with the toy they had just opened. Of course, the shirts and pants never got quite that kind of reaction, but the toys sure did.
It’s a funny thing though, as I think about it, all those toys that brought them so much joy are gone now. Jason has a few of his GI Joe soldiers and Kimberly may still have Katherine, one of her special dolls, but all the other toys are long gone. Broken. Lost. Given away. Thrown away. Those toys don’t bring them joy now…because like everyone else, when we grow up; our desires change–we change. Gifts don’t bring the excitement they once did.
For an adult it is so easy to allow Christmas to be wrapped in the drudgery of responsibly. Gottta buy the gifts-can we afford it? Got to bake the cookies–where will I find the time? Got to put up the tree–isn’t anybody going to help me? Ahhh! Got to buy more gifts–what do they want–I hate the crowds! Got to wrap the presents-I’ll be glad when Christmas is over! No excitement! No joy! Just a whirlwind of activity!
While I believe there are some practical suggestions that I can offer and I will at the bottom of this blog, I am convinced that Christmas joy is for everyone and the instructions that the angels gave the shepherds in Luke 2 are appropriate for you today.
Luke 2:10 nlt but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!
- Don’t be afraid. No matter what you are going through, what your situation is–don’t be afraid. Trust in God. He has the answer.
- Embrace the good news. Receive the joy.
- Find Jesus. (Luke 2:12 nlt And this is how you will recognize him:) v16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
- Share Jesus. v17 nlt Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened
- Worship Jesus. v20 nlt The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God
Some practical suggestions are:
- Set a realistic budget or limit of what you will spend and stick with it!
- Don’t try to do everything by yourself! Give everyone in your family a job and do it together. Make it fun. Decorate while listening to Christmas music and the promise of eggnog and sugar cookies when they are done.
- Don’t go crazy with the decorations, the cooking or the cleaning. Relax. Do your best without making yourself and everyone around you crazy!
Enjoy Christmas. Enjoy your family. Laugh together. Stop and smell the Christmas tree, unless it’s artificial, then maybe not
Give a gift that will make a difference in their lives!
Think Missional! Pass this on to someone you think may enjoy it or need it.