I purchased my first Christmas tree (thank you, Black Friday) and decorated my apartment for Christmas this weekend after participating in a marathon 15-hour Black Friday with my family, being among those crazy, I mean, brave souls who wait in line for the doors to open at places like Target, Best Buy, and Belk ($20 boots, anyone?). In the sleep-deprived frenzy to purchase presents for everyone and in a culture of Black Friday (that really starts on Thursday), Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Weeping Wednesday (because we realize how much money we just spent), how do we keep Christ and the gospel central when it's so easy to be sucked into consumerism during the Christmas season?

This week, I read two articles on this very subject that I am commending to you. One is Jen Hatmaker's piece "O Holy Night" in this month's copy of HomeLife Magazine where she shares about how her, her husband, and her five kids remember Christ during Christmas as well as whether or not to include Santa Claus in your family's Christmas traditions.

The other article is from the Alabama WMU office on "Five Ways to Help Keep Christ at the Center of Your Family's Christmas" and includes ideas such as:

  • Inviting your neighbors over to your home for holidays snacks and sharing how each other celebrates during the holidays. This can lead to a great opportunity to share the gospel.

  • Celebrate Advent as a family as well as use the devotional time to pray for missionaries around the world.

Below are a few more ideas of how we can better remember Jesus over the next couple of weeks:

Celebrate Advent

If your family would like a FREE resource to guide family worship time together during the holidays, download this Advent Guide written by Scott James, an Elder at Brook Hills.

Plan for Christmas Day

Your family can also plan ahead for how you will celebrate on Christmas Day as well as how your family can serve others over the holidays. Take time to read the passages in Scripture prophesying about the Messiah and telling of Christ's coming. Reflect on Christ, and praise Him who He is and what He has done. Visit this site for FREE songs that you can sing and for narrated devotions that you can use with your family on Christmas Day. Even though my brother and I are in our 20s, my family actually listened to the God With Us album from Brook Hills last Christmas Eve as we drove to my grandparents' home, and we had a great time sharing with each other using this resource.

Give to the Global Offering

For Brook Hills, December is also the month when we give to the Global Missions Offering, which supports our church's overall global disciple-making strategies and assisting members in our faith family in participating in short-term, mid-term, and long-term missions. For more information and to give, visit this site.

Something that you and your family could discuss is how to plan this next year to give in 2014. Since Christmas can be tighter financially because of all the gifts to purchase and because I wanted to increase my giving, something I started doing is designating an envelope for the Global Christmas Offering and setting aside a certain amount of money to place in the envelope each month. This enables me to give more than I would have had I waited until December to write a check. I encourage you to read this letter from Pastor David to learn more about how the Global Offering helps to advance the gospel.

Serve Others

For serving opportunities in Birmingham during the holidays, visit this site. Also, if you know any internationals, many return to their countries never having been invited to an American home, and what an opportunity we have to extend hospitality to the nations right here at home! Also, widows/widowers, seniors, single adults - these are often people who face the holidays alone and whom you could invite to join your family this Christmas.

Whenever I read John 9:1, I am always struck by how Jesus saw the blind man as He walked down the road. Think of all the people vying for Jesus' attention and talking to Him as He walked, yet Jesus saw this man that so many people ignored as they passed by. Do we like Jesus see the people around us? People who are hurting, people who are lonely, people who need love, encouragement, and the good news of a Savior? Instead of seeing the sales and what all we have to do and buy this season, let's remember Christ and ask ourselves how we can share and show the gospel to others this Christmas season.