So, I am new to Minnesota and I am still getting used to some things. For instance, this weekend I spent Saturday shrinking wrapping my windows to winterize my house. I have never had to do that before. I have to admit that I had no idea a hair dryer could be such a useful household tool. As a homeowner it is good to do those kinds of things that will help prepare our home for winter. But at this time of year there are also some other preparations that we should be making at our homes as well.
Christmas is just 18 days away. Usually people say, “only 18 more shopping days til Christmas.” But it might be better for us to say, “only 18 more preparation days til Christmas.” I’m not talking about shopping, wrapping, or organizing our Christmas parties. I am talking about preparing our hearts. Christmas is one of the most important times of the year. It is a time for us to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Speaking as a father, this is a critical time for my children. If I don’t take advantage of this time leading up to Christmas to speak into their lives and teach them what Christmas is really all about, then they are going to be taught by what they see all around them. If that happens, then they are going to be more excited about getting gifts, eating Christmas cookies, looking at all the christmas decorations in the neighborhood, and watching Frosty the Snowman on television than on focusing on the birth of the Savior. And who can blame them? If we don’t take the time to help prepare their hearts, then their hearts are going to be prepared by what they see. And even though I am no longer 9 years old, the same is true with me. If all I invest myself in this time of the year is buying Christmas gifts, baking Christmas cookies, and decorating our house to prepare for Christmas, then that is where my heart is going to be too.
So my challenge for us is to make the most of these 18 preparation days before Christmas to prepare our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones for this Christmas season. So how do we do that? Well, let me offer a few suggestions…
1) Nativity scene (or Creche) – Use the nativity scene to help you remember what you are really celebrating. Give it a prominent place in your decorating. As you set it up, consider what the different pieces represent. Maybe even use the nativity scene as a teaching tool. I have heard of families who build the scene throughout the time leading up to Christmas, having Mary and Joseph arrive on Christmas eve and the baby Jesus on Christmas morning.
2) Christmas carols – Take a walk and sing some of your favorite Christmas carols. And as you sing, consider what the carols are saying. We have sung these songs so much it is easy for us to forget the meaning behind the words. But listen to what you are singing. It is hard to sing “Joy To The World” and not have a smile come to your face. Try it.
3) Advent calendar or special devotional – An Advent Calendar is simply a calendar that uses some means of helping you celebrate each day of advent beginning December 1 and leading into Christmas. The idea is to help you focus each day on some element of the Christmas story. Last year we started as a family reading through a devotional book called “Jotham’s Journey” by Arnold Ytreeide. It is broken down into a portion for you to read and talk about each day of advent leading into Christmas. My kids couldn’t wait for December 1 this year so they could start the book again.
4) Serve – Find someplace or some way to serve. Having an opportunity to serve others is a great way to get our focus back where it belongs. If you are looking for a place to serve in the Chaska area, check out the Love INC (In the Name of Christ) website, www.loveincecc.org.
These are just a few ways to prepare you heart. Maybe you have others. Feel free to send your comments back about how you like to prepare your heart for the Christmas season.