We are not to have any other gods before the true God. We are not to make graven images to worship. We are not to take the Lord's name in vain. Sometimes I wonder if at Christmas many people break those commandments in the way they choose to celebrate. If Christmas is more about looking good in the eyes of man for the gifts we give, or the way we decorate, or even good deeds we do, instead of being amazed and awed that the all powerful God sent His Son way from the holiest and happiest realm, to come and live as a humble man of dust, then I fear we are breaking those commands. I am not saying that gifts are wrong. I am not saying that decorations are evil (though some may be pretty tacky LOL). I am not saying it is wrong to do good deeds for the needy.
But what is truly our motivation? Do we give to the canned food drive because we feel guilty? Do we get more excited about looking at the tree or wrapping the presents than we do about reading our Bible or praying to God? Are we really thinking about Christ's birth when we wish others a Merry Christmas?
Again, I know this is not a commandment in the Bible, but there is a commandment that applies.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
A few years ago I was convicted of these things in my heart. We actually didn't put up a tree at all! I gave away all my Christmas village pieces. We got rid of all Christmas movies that weren't the actual story of Christ's birth. I needed to do that. I needed to repent of worshipping the traditions of Christmas instead of Christ himself. It was hard. I missed those traditions. Christmas didn't seem as special without those things. That is how I knew I had been in sin! God worked on my heart in many ways the year after that and I grew in awe of Him and all the things that He did, does, and is!
When we began to add back some of the traditions that ensnared my heart before, I was afraid. I didn't want to be a pagan worshipper. I didn't want to tempt myself with idols. Praise God, I realized that it wasn't a temptation anymore.
Now I love to put up the tree because I am spending time with my family and talking of the greatest gift God ever gave anyone! I redeem this time by using decorations that remind us of things of God. We spend more time listening to Christmas music that sings of the real Reason for the Season! We do activities that remind us of that too.
One of the new things we added to our family traditions is an advent wreath. If you aren't familiar with it, here is a good sight for information and suggestions: History of Advent Some years we have done it at home as part of family worship. This year we did it as part of Sunday School. The girls also made an advent book. This is to remind them of the verses of promise and the gifts of the season!
Each girl decorated the front of the book. Some of these may be given as a Christmas remembrance to a relative, so if you see these again in real life, act surprised! (hint, hint) :)
Mary, Sarah and Hannah working on the front page design. Hannah was already finished. (see below)
We had some pretty glitter letters, card stock and Christmas ribbon at the church to tie together each week's page! I found the pages at ministry-to-children.com if you are interested in some coloring pages about advent.
I am so thankful that the memories our girls have of Christmas will center around Jesus' birth.
On another note, one of the girls favorite memories about Christmas and winter time is sleeping (I call it that with tongue in cheek!) in the living room. These impromptu slumber parties usually occur on the nights that it is really cold (24 tonight) and we are conserving electricity by only using the fireplace. We shut off their doors and pile them all in the living room.
The room prepared!
Little one didn't make it. Looks like she will be taking Daddy's empty spot tonight!
In the "quiet" hour before lights out, they are talking, reading, playing guitar and just enjoying being sisters!
With All My Heart~