I have been using John Piper’s Daily Reading for Advent “Good News Great Joy” in preparing our family for Christmas. I really love taking the time to savour the preciousness of Christmas by developing a little tradition in our home.
It is so easy to lose focus on the true meaning of Christmas with so much activities bombarding our time as a family this festive season.
Before we know it, another year has past and Christmas is reduced to gift giving rather than remembering the Giver. Our best effort is buried under the hurry and flurry of making parties and buying gifts for families and friends, while minimal energy is spent on truly seeing and savouring the Saviour.
We may be glad to make it through another year, but have we truly taken the time to reflect and replenish?
In first reading of the month, Piper presents us with the question of how prepared we are for this season.
Knowing that this is a busy month for us with birthdays, holidays, work, schools, concerts, family get togethers, shopping, decorating, and food, I want to make sure that we are paying attention to being spiritually prepared too.
Advent means “Coming” and it is an annual season of patient waiting, hopeful expectation and soul-searching. Advent allows us to be ready for the true meaning of Christmas. And as we get spiritually ready, we will find that Christmas has so much more joy and meaning in our family!
Piper mentions four ways in which we can be prepared, summarised as follows:
1) First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.
For us to truly appreciate Christmas, we need to firstly understand our desperate need for a Saviour. In our family, we awaken our sense of understanding for a Saviour through incorporating Christmas read-alouds and classics into our night tradition.
2) Second, engage in sober self-examination.
By taking a slower approach to life this month and journalling your desires, prayers, thoughts, you are preparing your heart and cleaning your home for Him!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24)
Part of our Christmas routine is in delving into Christmas devotionals, doing Jesse tree, the Blessing Buddies, Christmas daily crafts, Christmas character training as we sit around the dinner table, gathered in the living room, or the children colouring quietly on their Christmas Notebook as stories or devotions are being read.
3) Third, build a God-centered anticipation, expectancy and excitement into your home—especially for the children.
We need to make Christmas exciting for the children by whetting their appetite not only with material things (like gifts!) but with a thirst for God. This is where we can use our imagination to help the children understand the wonder of our King in a visible and a comprehensible manner.
4) Fourth, be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages! “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord!” (Jeremiah 23:29)
As we gather around the festivity of this Christmas season, we need to remember that that the light that Christ brings into this world is immersed in grace and it is healing for a thousand hurts, It is light for dark, long, empty nights.