How do you get beneath the surface of the holiday season and experience a deeper, more meaningful time of celebration?
On each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, we gather for a time of reflection on the spiritual implications of the holiday. There are a lot of things you can do to make this fun for your kids. Some families light candles on an Advent wreath. At our house, we usually have two or three Advent calendars going. Traditionally, this season has been observed as a time of anticipation and deep spiritual longing. I see this as a powerful antidote to our modern tendency to jump straight into the festivities. Advertisers want us to believe that the perfect gift makes for a perfect Christmas, but Advent keeps us focused on Jesus, the real object of our heart’s desire.
—Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family and author of The Good Dad
The weeks leading up to Christmas are often filled with lists and lines, to-dos and to-don’ts. If we’re not careful, a season meant to bring great joy can steal our joy. Advent beckons us to slow and prepare for the arrival of a tiny heartbeat. In this season, we’re reminded of the power of waiting. And it bubbles with the joy of our great God. That’s why I love to take the weeks leading up to Christmas to study the arrival of Christ, recorded in Luke’s gospel. I print out the opening chapters and outline, underline, and circle the most meaningful phrases. This is how I become wonderstruck by the arrival of Christ again and again.
—Margaret Feinberg, Author of Fight Back With Joy
Last Christmas, when the people we love the most were gathered to celebrate the birth of Christ, I glanced up from replying to a text and noticed everyone in the room was looking at a phone. Everyone. Instead of embracing the moment and enjoying each other, each person was virtually somewhere else. So that’s when my wife and I decided that at mealtime and during family gatherings, all devices go into a basket. While we love and embrace the good that our devices bring to us, we refuse to live screen to screen when God wants us to live face to face.
—Craig Groeschel, Author of #Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World
It’s the absolute highlight of my family’s year to focus the first 25 days of December on the roots and limbs and story of Jesus’ family tree. If we want Christmas to stand wondrous and not just fall over in a meaningless heap, we need to understand and be astonished by the family tree of Christ. Jesus doesn’t cut off all the cheaters, liars, sneaks, and battling brothers. He makes people just like this, just like us, perfectly His! Jesus adopts all the messy, broken, and imperfect people into His tree and His story and gives them His family name. So in December, my family opens up God’s Word like our own epic Advent calendar, reads the family tree passages all through the Old Testament, and hangs a corresponding ornament that signifies each story on our tree. We linger over the spreading pageantry of human- kind from Adam to the Messiah that points to the coming of God in the flesh.
—Ann Voskamp, Author of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas