"Only 25 Shopping Days Left 'Til Christmas!" Really? But I've still got so many items to cross off my TO DO list! Let's admit it: it's easy to begin hyperventilating thinking of all the wonderful things we hope to accomplish in the next 3 weeks.
But if I'm truly to make the most of every opportunity as commanded in Ephesians 5, I have some decisions to make. I must consistently reorient myself to the inherent beginnings of Christmas, placing my yuletide emphasis
on the reality that the entire world stops to acknowledge the Savior of our souls who made His entrance to our world in a crude and unimpressive fashion that night. And for what reason? Solely so He could die just a few years later, obliterating my sin and paving the way for me to spend eternity with Christ. There's no other way to look at it. Simply stated, the plan for my glory-filled future began on this very night with a hay-strewn manger and an obedient young couple.
Therefore, I'm compelled to shift the paradigm a bit and make a selective decision to honor this truth. I must give back to the One who gave so much for me. And actually, when I revisit Matthew 25:35-40, it's pretty simple: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Jesus wraps it up by clarifying, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
I was reminded of this on a recent Family Talk broadcast with author Jill Hardie. Jill has penned an adorable children's book challenging us to teach our kids about this true meaning of Christmas. She suggests that over the next few weeks we gently work into our lifestyle 2-3 acts of service to "the least of these" and in so doing, present Jesus with His birthday gift this year. She goes on to recommend that we quietly document these on slips of paper and place them in a special place -- perhaps in a "sparkly box" up on the mantle. Then, on Christmas day, before opening presents for one another, first open a gift for the true Guest of Honor. Retrieve the box off the mantle, pull out the papers and read them out loud as a way of setting the foundation for that day's festivities. It'll make a profound impact on your kids, and the rest of the day may just pale in comparison. And who knows, you might even begin next year's Sparkle Box contributions right away.
For further ideas on how to build this tradition into your home, and to hear a dramatic reading of Jill's book, catch our Family Talk broadcast, "The Sparkle Box: Celebrating Christmas in Your Home."