We had an opportunity recently to ask the kids what they thought was important for our family to do at Christmas, what were the things that would make Christmas time significant. When they were children it was important to me to use the time leading up to Christmas to shape their hearts, to instil a love for God’s story, for God’s heart for man. But at sometime I have to recognise that that is in their heart, and now what do we do with it. It was interesting to hear the different kids’ different responses – from not being fussed at all to holding firmly to traditions.
We are still working through how we want Christmas to look for our growing family but it was clear that we wanted:
- To do something to bless other people in our town
- Next year we would like to be involved in Christmas Shoebox project (we’ve missed all cut off dates for this year)
- To have a family read aloud that makes us think (not necessarily a devotional)
- To continue to open our house Christmas night for those who want to be with friends, or don’t have family
- To continue to have fun (even silly) memory making times as a family
- To remember our own extended family (who live on the other side of Australia)
Intentional Christmas time studies:
These are the resources we’ve used when I wanted to do a study or intentional Christmas focus family devotions with teens/highschool students:
Why the Nativity This is a study/devotional book based on the movie “The Nativity Story” (which we’ll watch some time). It is based on asking the ‘why’ question to all the parts of the Christmas story – Why the Prophecies? Why Bethlehem? Why call him Jesus? Why the Shepherds? It is a very short read each day, and I expect it to generate conversation (which is one of my overarching objectives for Naomi and Daniel this year.)
Tabitha’s Travels by Arnold Ytreeide – We enjoyed Jotham’s Journey several years ago and look forward to reading this Advent story together. (One of the things that we also need to keep in mind is that even though Josh is 20, Daniel is 14 – so we need to meet the needs of everyone).
The Jesse Tree – Though this story would definately be enjoyed by younger children, it also kept our interest and opened the door for many discussions. The Jesse Tree is a study that traces God’s story from Creation to the birth of Jesus.
The Nativity Story (DVD). Watching a Biblical story always helps us see the real-everyday-ness of the characters involved.
The Star of Bethleham (DVD) Controversial and yet very thought provoking.
I’m reading God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas by Bruce and Stan. This has been good for my heart, but also providing content for us to talk about with the family over dinner.
Over the years I have collected many picture books that help focus on the story of Christmas, or the heart of showing God’s love to the people around us. So I have scattered those on the coffee table in the hope that people (my kids, visitors or Peter and myself) will pick them up and have a quick read and be encouraged or inspired. Here’s a list of some of our favourite picture books for Christmas.
Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs: