There’s a reason we celebrate holidays. They’re more than just eating, seeing family and getting time off work.
Holidays are meant to help us remember. We remember the birth of Christ and the passing of another year. But, too often, people forget the real reason for the celebration, or they’ve never understood it in the first place.
Here are some fresh ideas to help make the most of the upcoming holidays by remembering.
Advent marks the beginning of the church year and starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The word Advent means “coming,” and it’s a time to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
Many churches make Advent devotional books with short passages to read every day, and even non-Christian neighbors might enjoy lighting one candle a week on your Advent wreath. Help them see past the symbolism to the reality of Christ in your life.
St. Nicholas Day
Most people have no idea how the real story of St. Nicholas became the legend of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was a revered Christian who lived in the third century. He was known to be a gift-giver and a protector of children.
Today, St. Nicholas is still celebrated heavily in Europe. Children put their stockings out the night before St. Nicholas Day to be filled with small goodies that they will share. Honor this tradition by bringing a treat to share for your office. Spread the gift of generosity and compassion. Ask questions like, “Do you know the story behind the real St. Nick?”
- Send Christmas cards that include the gospel message. Pray for those you’re sending cards to as well as the people you get cards from.
- Give out copies of the “JESUS” film. Based on the Gospel of Luke, the “JESUS” film tells the story of Christ from His birth to His death and resurrection. Give it in a fruit basket, with cookies and hot cocoa mix, or by itself.
- Take inspiration from the “Christmas Gathering Manual,” in which Joyce Bademan shares how to host an evangelistic Christmas gathering.
- Invite people to church with you. People are most open to attending church during Christmas and Easter, so invite everyone you know. Also invite them to special church programs like a children’s pageant, a live Nativity scene or a Christmas cantata. Engage them in conversation afterward. Ask questions like: “Did your family have any religious traditions during the holidays?” “Where do you see yourself on your spiritual journey?” and “Would you like to know God personally?”
- Invite the neighborhood children over to have a birthday party for Jesus. Have a cake, play birthday and Christmas games (like “Pin the Tail on Mary’s Donkey”), tell the story of Jesus’ birth, and talk about His life.
- Volunteer. You never know whom you might meet. Ring the bell for the Salvation Army, play Santa Claus or serve in a soup kitchen. Visit prisons, hospitals or nursing homes. Talk about the reason for the season.
- Go caroling. Invite neighbors, friends and co-workers to join you. Even invite the people who hear you singing to join your group. Talk about the meaning of the songs between houses.
- “What God Wants for Christmas,” an outreach tool from FamilyLife, tells the story of Jesus’ birth through a book and seven gift boxes. Six boxes contain hand-painted figures for kids to place in the pop-up manger scene; the last box contains a mirror to reveal what God really wants for Christmas: you!
- Do something nice for a neighbor. Shovel someone’s sidewalk or offer to help put up Christmas lights. It’s not just about giving gifts; it’s about giving of ourselves.
- New year, new start, new life in Christ. The new year offers a bridge to talking about starting fresh with God and how we have that opportunity every day. Use the occasion to talk about what a new start with God looks like.
- As everyone makes resolutions, talk about why people want to change and how change really happens. Start a Bible study or prayer group.