Before you pack up your Christmas decorations and make way for the New Year, here’s an important question. . .
Did you give Jesus a gift for His birthday?
It’s really easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season… after all, December can be such a stressful time. We decorate, shop, bake, wrap, entertain, and try to preserve meaningful, fun family traditions while trying to keep our heads above the water.
Maybe you can relate.
I hope this simple idea for keeping Christ in Christmas will encourage you today. . . and maybe even become a tradition in your home as it is in ours.
A Letter to Jesus
Like most families, each year our stockings are hung by the fireplace,
and filled with fun and practical items on Christmas Eve, and then opened on Christmas morning.
But, for us, there’s one addition to this tradition.
Inside each stocking is a Letter to Jesus written annually by each of us and then stored there all year long.
Sometime throughout the Christmas season, when all family members are present (and this gets more difficult as the kids get older) we gather in the den, reach inside our stockings and pull out our stapled stack of letters from previous years. We take a gander at what was written in the previous year’s letter.
Then we write a new letter to Jesus. . .
as a way of recording our intentions to serve Him throughout the upcoming year.
To honor Him on His birthday.
We write specific things that we want to be intentional to give to Him for His birthday present.
We consider ways we can give of our time, talents, skills, interests, personality, finances, and possessions.
We think about our walk with Him, ways to bless others, specific ministries the Lord has put on our hearts. . .
or simply write that we want to be used by Him and be obedient however He guides.
We consider our personal walk with the Lord and what we would like to see develop in our hearts and habits that would draw us closer to Him – and list things we are intentional to do the next year. This could be praying specifically for certain people, studying a singular book of the Bible or doing a particular character quality study in God’s Word.
As parents, we write the direction we want to lead our home to be Christ-centered, Bible studies or devotions to do, changes we need to make, perhaps listing a child whose heart we want to give to more fully this year.
Some years I’ve recorded specific ways I want to guide each child, and other times I write, “Lord, my heart’s desire is that these children love you and serve you and are about others. Show me specific ways this year to guide them.”
Each person’s letter is uniquely his or hers. Some may use bullet points while others start theirs with “Dear Jesus, Happy Birthday. This year I want to give you . . .”
Sometimes I list categories and a thought or more under each.
Some letters are short, some list three specific things to give as a gift to Jesus, and other letters are several pages long.
My oldest kids (who are recent graduates and now employed. Hallelujah!) and husband include goals they have for the Lord at their jobs – such as specific people they are praying for or ideas they have for being a blessing and a witness for Christ.
Here are some additional thoughts to consider, although the point is certainly NOT to make this overwhelming:
- Areas we see our own selfishness or areas we need to die to self
- Character qualities that need attention such as diligence, initiative, promptness, or humility
- Fruits of the spirit we are lacking such as joy, kindness, long suffering, patience, or gentleness
- Wrong thoughts, motives that need to be brought captive such as fear, lust, pride, or jealousy
- Bitterness or hatred we are holding on to that needs to be released
- Specific families to become friends with, invest into, or minister to
- Specific ways to use resources- to give anonymously, to support ministries, to give randomly, to use for Christ- and to use for family (such as a family vacation) or a trip with just you and one child- as a way to spend quality time with that one child you feel is “distant” from you)
- Listing each family member by name and a way to honor, serve, show love to that person
- Listing the different activities in which you are involved and ways to honor Christ, serve others, and bear fruits of the spirit at all you do.
- Specific spiritual goals: personal devotional time, scripture memory, books to read, ways to live out our faith, praying for specific people, what book of the Bible you want to study, a word study you want to do, or reading the Bible through chronologically – basically recording what commitment to put Him first looks like to you this year
When we’ve finished writing our Letter to Jesus, we staple it to the previous years’ letters, fold them, and put in the bottom of our stockings where they remain throughout the years.
This has been our very favorite way to stop, be still, and be intentional about giving our very lives to Jesus as a birthday present to Him.
I’d love to hear your comments and hear ways your family has kept Christ at the center of Christmas. I invite you to LIKE my Facebook page HERE. And, if you want blog posts delivered directly to you, sign up to receive them via email in the box below.
Rhonda MerryChristmasfromourfamilytoyours ellis