By Dennis Rainey
I know you are busy with all the activities and commitments which swirl around during the Christmas season. I remember. Usually December is a wall-to-wall overload of shopping for THE gift; Christmas parties … at the office, school and neighborhoods; Christmas plays, church gatherings, concerts, and more.
Not this year, at least for Barbara and me.
With one exception, a great number of important things have been edited out of our schedules by Covid. That one exception just happens to be the most important thing: Celebrating the real reason of Christmas with your family … at home.
Here’s what I want you to contemplate and grasp: You and your family have been given an incredible gift: simplicity … a time to refocus … to truly celebrate the One who made Christmas famous … WITH YOUR FAMILY AT HOME.
I’m going to give you a smorgasbord of 10 very simple ideas you can do together to connect as a family and make much of Jesus this year.
What follows are ideas you could do once a week as a couple or family. One evening or a portion of your Sunday you could gather together with a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate, and engage with one another. If your family isn’t local or can’t come to your home, set up a Zoom call which will work for most of the following ideas.
Before we get started, a challenge is in order: Pick just one of these to execute … that’s right, just one. Don’t try to do everything. Pick one and execute it well. Don’t worry if you fall a little short of expectation. We never lit all five of our Advent celebration candles in a single December season. Three out of five was our best effort!
1. Beginning with Mom and Dad, each family member share the story of how they came to faith in Jesus. If the grandparents are still living, set up a time for them to come and share, or schedule a Zoom call with them and let them go first. Psalm 78:5-8 tells us to teach our children to put their hope in God and not forget His works and commandments. Don’t minimize this: Do your children and adult children know the details of your conversion to Christ?
An outline for your conversation story could be as simple as this:
Explain your religious (or lack of) background growing up and what your life was like before Christ.
Recall the circumstances God used in your life for how you came to faith in Christ.
Tell how your life has changed and is still changing as you now follow Christ.
Decide ahead of time whether you want family members to share the Twitter version of their testimony (five minutes) or a lengthy blog version (15-20 minutes). Give them the freedom to pass if they don’t want to share. If a family member hasn’t made a commitment to Christ, this can be a safe time to hear how others have encountered the King of kings, the Savior of the world.
2. Create a “hide and seek” game called “Follow the Star.” Tell the story of the Wise Men who followed the star and found Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).
Here’s the game: For three days, hide a star somewhere in the house and encourage family members to find it. The person who finds the star that day gets to share why they follow the Star (Jesus). This game is like Elf on a Shelf but better because an elf can’t help you like Jesus can.
Rather than creating your own stars, I suggest using three stars in the His Eternal Names set from Everthinehome.com. A free download with instructions for this game is available with the purchase of the beautiful set my wife Barbara created and thousands have enjoyed.
3. Take turns reading the story of Jesus’ birth and first years of life (Matthew 1:18-2:23 or Luke 2) from a different translation or paraphrase: The Living Bible, The Message, or The Good News Bible. There’s also a great paraphrase in a book, The Jesus Story, which is a harmony of all Gospels—a compilation of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (You may want to continue reading it after Christmas is.)
Ask each family member to listen to the story with fresh ears and be ready to share what impressed them as the story is read. Questions can include: If you were God, how would you have made your entrance to planet Earth? Discuss why you think God chose to show up as a baby in a stable?
4. Look up five Old Testament passages that foretel