EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–Somehow television Christmas specials have become a part of our holiday traditions. Yet that’s not really what makes Christmas special. To have a truly special Christmas, it’s necessary to produce your own “Christmas Specials.” It’s important to plan some things for yourself and your family that will focus on Christ Himself and the wonder of His becoming human at Bethlehem.
Here are some ideas:
— Plan now a special Christmas Eve for your family. Many families attend candlelight services at church; then, before bed, gather around the tree and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Some families have a special menu they serve only on Christmas morning; the ingredients need to be readied the night before. Make a new “family rule” that all shopping must be done by noon on December 24, and that the evening and Christmas morning are to be given to the Lord Jesus and to the family.
— Select one special human need to fill during the Christmas season. Perhaps you could devote time to visiting a nearby nursing home, serving lunch at a local soup kitchen or going grocery shopping for a needy family. You might make up and ship a Christmas package to a soldier overseas. Brighten someone else’s life in the name of Jesus.
— Invite someone to church. Many churches offer elaborate music and drama productions. These are attractive to many non-churchgoers who keenly feel that something is missing in their seasonal activities. This may be their first introduction to church in years, but it may not be their last.
— Try to select Christmas gifts that convey a spiritual message. We can always give sweaters and ties. But think of the lasting value of giving someone a modern translation of the Bible, a Christian novel, a nativity ornament, a painting with a Scripture verse underneath or a gift-subscription to a magazine. After all, the practice of gift-giving goes all the way back to God himself. Referring to the Christchild and His saving grace, the apostle Paul said: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
— Do something for yourself this Christmas. Mental health experts tell us that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to do a little something for ourselves every day. Exhaustion can rob us of our appreciation of the season and pilfer our time for meditation and worship. Learn to block out an hour, make an appointment with yourself. Try calming your day by wrapping up and sitting on the back porch with a cup of hot cocoa, reading the Christmas story from the Gospels. Do a little gift-giving to yourself. Set aside a “stay at home” night and watch your favorite Christmas movie.
— Make a special family occasion out of trimming the Christmas tree.
— If you mail out Christmas cards, select ones that have a spiritual emphasis. You may want to prayerfully choose a Bible verse to inscribe alongside your greeting in each one. End your Christmas greetings with words like these: “and I’m praying that God will bless you in body, mind and spirit during this Christmas season.” As you seal the card, bow your head and sincerely pray for the recipient. (You can buy beautiful religious cards for next year at half price on December 26th.)
You’ll come up with a dozen other ideas for making your own Christmas Special this year.
Late one afternoon in 1949, British missionary Geoffrey Bull was imprisoned by Chinese communists and forced to feed horses in the dark, dank, smelly, nauseating stable. Cold, weary, lonely and ill, as he groped in the darkness, he suddenly remembered that it was Christmas. Jesus, our Savior, came to a place like this — for us. Geoffrey bowed in worship.
While most of us don’t have to face such brutal conditions, we do often find ourselves tyrannized by “the urgent” during the holidays. But with just a little thought, a little planning, a little prayer and a few simple decisions, we can change that.
We can learn to bow in thankfulness and worship.
We can make our own Christmas special.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and chancellor of San Diego Christian College (formerly Christian Heritage College). For more information on Turning Point, visit www.TurningPointOnline.org.