One of my favorite words to describe this time of year is the word hectivity. It is a combination of the words hectic and activity, and it describes what many of us are involved in during the month of December as we add parties for work, family gatherings, special church events, shopping, planning and more, to an already busy schedule. December is a month of hectivity.
This season should be a gloriously peaceful time of remembering God’s ultimate response to His lost and rebellious creatures, the ultimate gift of grace—the gift of Himself—in the person of Jesus. But instead of a peaceful season of worship and celebration, December has devolved into the craziest time of the year.
A big reason that this season is filled with hectivity is because the Christmas season has become a battle between two stories—one attractive and untrue; and the other deeply humbling, but what every person, everywhere, needs.
The false “Christmas story” the world whispers tell us and our children that we are the center of life, rather than God and God alone. It looks to possessions for fulfillment, rather than worship of the Creator. It makes the physical pleasures of celebrations our primary focus, rather than the rescuing intervention of the Redeemer. It’s dominated by the comforts of December moments, rather than eternal priorities.
Unlike this false “Christmas story,” the true “Christmas Story” is humbling and unappealing to our senses. It’s a story about a world terribly broken by sin and populated by self-centered rebels. It’s about people created to live for God, but who live for themselves. This story is about the dethroning of the Creator in people’s hearts and the enthroning of His creation. It’s about conditions so desperate that God did the unthinkable, sending his Son to be the sacrificial Lamb of redemption. And why did Jesus come? Because we were so lost that there was no other way.
The Good News of Christmas doesn’t make any sense until we understand this bad news that is its backdrop. The news that Jesus came on a glorious mission of grace to live, die, and rise in our place is only worth celebrating when you understand it’s the only hope.
The battle that wages between the untrue and true meanings of Christmas isn’t a battle about whether we should sing silly seasonal tunes versus Christmas carols, or have worship times versus big family feasts. No, the war is about what story of identity, need, meaning, and purpose we will believe and pass on to the next generation.
We should enjoy the gifts, the decorations, and the delicious foods, but start preparing your heart and your family early this year for the battle to come by focusing on the true Gospel story.
Here are four ways to focus your heart and your family on the true story that our souls need.
- Celebrate Jesus all month. You can’t start early enough or tell the true story often enough, since the false story is everywhere to be heard. Point your heart and your family to the big story of why Jesus came, all month.
- Tell the whole story. The Good News isn’t good unless it’s prefaced with bad news, and redemption becomes beautiful when we understand the depth of our need. Remind your heart and your family about the bad news of sin, disobedience, and judgement, so that the Good News of a redeemer makes sense.
- Point to Jesus and the Gospel. Enjoy traditions and celebrations but take regular opportunities to remember and point out how and why each of these holiday activities point to Jesus and the Good News.
- Present Jesus as the great gift. Express love by giving gifts, but remind your children that creation can’t satisfy, and that our only hope is found in one Gift—the person, presence, work, and grace of Jesus.
To help focus your heart and your family, we have provided a devotional that leads up to Christmas Day called the 25 Days of Christmas. We would encourage you to pick up the devotional at the welcome center of your campus or find it on our website friendshipmn.org/christmas. We hope the daily devotionals and activities help to focus your heart and family on the true story of Christmas.