Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ways to Celebrate

I was on facebook today when I saw my friends, Beth and Jeremy Howard in Uganda, posted some great links. I checked them out and was moved. to tears. I have a lot of emotions going on lately, but this just convicted me. I am already excited about the Advent Conspiracy site.
The whole idea is to worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. To spend quality time with those you love, help serve, and give to those in need.

  • We have been spending less this Christmas, that is for sure. Everyone is getting one gift from us, and kids are drawing names between siblings. Things are simple and easy.
  • We have enjoyed spending time together as a family this holiday season. We have enjoyed watching Christmas movies together, cooking and eating, playing games, singing, dancing, listening to Christmas music, reading, doing small crafts, and putting on little puppet shows.
  • We have given a bit to those in need (we could always do more). We put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. We gave to a local food drive. We are doing an angel tree gift. J. helped with a shopping trip for local kids in need. We sponsor a child in Africa through Compassion.
  • I feel we are lacking on the worship end of things. Of course my children know the reason we celebrate Christmas. We have a nativity scene on our piano and we have a birthday cake for Jesus every year. We go to church, and the kids are in a play. But what about TRUE worship, TRUE sacrifice?

Check out these sites:

"It was dark, I do remember that. Bedtime. Smoothing back hair, kissing foreheads. One round moon hanging large outside the window, an ornament dangling off stars, decorating the night. I had gifts to wrap. So, pull up the blankets. Prayers. And then, when I’m at the door, one hand on the doorframe, resting in the light of the hallway, I turn to close the door a bit on the dark and he stops me with just one question:

“What does Jesus get for His birthday?”

The words hung… strung me up.

I say the words into the black. Um… A cake? Our love?

I can hear him turn again in the bed, roll over on the pillow. Restless…

“But Mom…. if we get wrapped presents for our birthdays, real sacrifices from people who love us — they gave up other things to give something to us — then why don’t we do that for Jesus’ birthday?”

I stand at the door looking into all that light cast down the hallway.

Why is the sky blue, why do we blink, how do clouds hold all that water, the children ask me a thousand questions and the world spins dizzy on a million questions I don’t know the answers to and I stand in the dark, the light right there, and I grope for the answer that could change the world…

“Why don’t we give up things so we can give to Jesus for His birthday?”

Is it always this way, that a little child will lead them?

He was four or five that year, I can’t remember. I just know that now he’s fifteen and I stepped out into the light and we’ve done all the Christmases since his way, giving away. It’s not at all wrong to do it differently, but just for us… all the Christmas gifts — gifts for the Christ Child."

Read the entire post please!

And this post:

Ten Things to Do on Christmas Morning When all the Gifts are for Him

1. Birthday for Breakfast

Serve Birthday Cake for Breakfast — with ice cream and an arch of balloons and birthday hats and light the candles and sing of wondrous grace! He has come! And for us!

Our tradition is angel food cake for the birthday cake — made with freshly ground wheat — and I think of the wheat that fell to the ground, died for us and the harvest of the many.

2. Sup with Him — Feast Fit for a King

And we make breakfast a feast fit for a king. One of our best meals of the year is reserved for Christmas breakfast — recipes we serve only for Christmas Morning Breakfast —- Victorian French Toast with whip cream and fresh fruit and a cranberry raspberry slushy drink and Sausage bake and orange juice and pineapple and we decorate with floating candles and and a nativity scene center piece and our best linens.

He’s invited us to His table, adopted us, made us one of His own— and we have time to come, to say yes to His invitation!

3. Gifts for Him, the Birthday Child

After breakfast, we gather together to give gifts to the birthday babe, the King Come—- and these are all gifts to the least of these, because Jesus Himself said, when you give to the least of these, you give to me, so we pick out more gifts from His catalogues. We don’t open presents but we open a far deeper joy.

One family writes of their creative Christmas mornings of giving Christmas gifts only to Jesus:

On Christmas morning this year, we had our oldest dress up as a wise man, and he went around the house, finding tin foil stars and taking the gifts he found there to the baby Jesus that we had in the living room. It was great! We plan to five the same kinds of gifts to Jesus this year...

What a creative way for kids, the whole family, to celebrate Christmas morning– tinfoil stars that have notes of donation to the least of these, a boy dressed up as a wise man, really worshipping!

It sounds, yes, terrifying, to not exchange gifts on Christmas morning, it did to me —- but the utter and unadulterated joy we unwrapped in giving away to those Jesus says He’s with, the poor.And we discovered all that He is absolutely true to His word: it is always better to give than to receive. And when we give to them we are giving to Him, it leaves us filled and satisfied in the realest sense.

Satisfied that everything fits and nothing will be returned and no batteries are needed for we have done the one thing that is needful — touched the hem of God, murmured adoration and offered up gifts to Him.

4. Serve Him a Meal

A loaf of fresh bread to an elderly neighbor spending his first Christmas alone, a still-in-the-dark cup of coffee and an egg sandwich delivered downtown to a homeless person, ladling bowls in a soup kitchen at lunch time, delivering sticky buns and a hug to the family who buried a child this year, gifting all the neighborhood with cookies and a card rejoicing in Christ come —- serve Christ a meal this Christmas, bread of heaven come down for all the hungry.

5. Invite Him In

It may be a single relative in need of a welcoming hearth, a lonely person from your faith community, a widow from down the road, a grieving friend, a lonely stranger, but to invite someone in need to His party because Christ who came to a world that had no room in the inn now calls all to come and He calls us to His kind of hospitality.

We have done this and this is His party and this is who He wants to come — the one who feels as unwanted as He did when He came to us. So we open the door and say come and celebrate with those He came for…

6. Give Yourself Talent Show

We know a family who gives the only gift we ever can really give, the gift of ourselves, by offering a little Christmas Day Talent Show. He does a crazy little tap dance — and everyone laughs —- and she joins him —- and everyone howls. What can you give of yourself to offer to Jesus, your family, on Christmas morning?

7. Join all of Creation

We spend hours outdoors on Christmas day, joining all of Creation and the heavenly throng in giving Him praise. We walk through the bush and sing Christmas carols, we go sledding down the back hills, we play in the snow and we laugh. We’ve decorated trees outside with treats, strings of popcorn and cranberry, suet and peanut butter and, if the conditions are right, it’s the one day of the year that we pour maple syrup over snow and eat taffy — we taste and see that the Lord is good!

8. Tell the Story

Over the years, we’ve told the Christmas story on Christmas morning with cousins and kids getting dressed up and re-enacting it for us, with kids written-performed-directed puppet show, with blankets and spotlight and silhouettes. Old men have been Joseph and toddlers have been Mary and this is the story that we love to tell — to remember the gift who came.

9. Sing the Hallelujah Chorus

Sing it in the woods, on the streets, in a nursing home, a hospital hall, a prison lounge, around the piano with the family, for the next door neighbors, a shut in across town. We join the angels this day and we fill the world with the music of the Messiah here. Find a way, somewhere, to sing because isn’t this the day of all days, we need to sing?

10. Follow the Light

And come Christmas night, we follow the light and some years it’s outside in the woods, luminaries, candles in jars, lighting a path to a nativity scene and we sing worship in the deepening dark, and some windy years, its filling the house with candles and spending the last hours of Christmas day singing glory, glory, glory, glory to God in the Highest.

Great ideas and reminders of what we need to be doing this Christmas season. I love it. I think we will have having a family meeting tonight to brainstorm ideas.

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