Ask Chuck: Less Stuff, More Christ in Christmas
I am weary of the commercialization of Christmas. My family is hosting Christmas this year, and I want to prioritize the real meaning of our celebration, not money or stuff. I long to simply focus on the birth of Christ. How can I do that when friends and family expect more?
Making Christmas About Christ
Dear Making Christmas About Christ,
In a letter to his parents dated December 17, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison:
“I don’t have to tell you how greatly I long for freedom, and for all of you. But for decades you gave us such incomparably beautiful Christmases that my grateful memory of them is strong enough to outshine even this rather dark one. It is times like these that show what it really means to have a past and an inner legacy independent of the change of times and conditions. The awareness of being borne up by a spiritual tradition that lasts for decades gives one a strong sense of security in the face of all transitory distress….”
Family traditions are priceless. Money cannot buy them. Repeated over time, they will imprint the hearts and minds of those you hold dear. Precious memories will be recalled throughout life, just like Bonhoeffer said. Traditions rooted in Christ will build a legacy of faith, security, and strong family bonds.
This is your year to winsomely steward the real meaning of Christmas! Be intentional about building traditions rooted in the Word of God. Read aloud about the birth of Christ from Luke 2:1-19, and encourage your family to memorize it for next year. I still love the King James Version. Fill your home with beautiful holiday music, and sing Christmas carols together. One of our daughters-in-law continues her family tradition of putting an empty box with a blanket under the tree on Christmas eve. It represents the manger and the anticipation of the birth of Christ. On Christmas morning, the children awake to a doll wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in the manger. My wife’s siblings and cousins acted out the Christmas story every Christmas eve.
These things do not cost money, but they plant Truth within the hearts of family and friends. This kind of investment is a deposit in eternity. If you know the Lord, then you have been entrusted with the gospel. Prioritize the celebration and wonder of God becoming man! It is the best gift we could ever share with anyone.
J.I. Packer, in his book Knowing God, wrote:
“It is here…at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. ‘The Word became flesh’; God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby…It meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill-treatment, malice and misunderstanding; …at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.”
Give True, Lasting Riches
So, enjoy the food, fun, and festivities, but invest in traditions for the sake of your family’s spiritual legacy! If you have never volunteered at Christmas or given anonymously together, try it. Commit to carry that tradition into 2022. You will develop compassion and reap spiritual blessings in the hearts of your family members as you give. Who knows the value it will add to your home and community. Emphasize the example of Christ: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV)
More valuable than any gifts your children or loved ones hope to unwrap is the yearly blessing of Christmas traditions which focus on the Truth: “Joy to the world; the Lord has come.”
One of our recent Crown Stewardship Podcast episodes is all about being generous in a grace-based and joy-filled manner. Enjoy listening to it. Merry Christmas!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on December 24, 2021.