It’s December, the last month in what has been a pretty dreadful year in many ways.
How do we celebrate Christmas?
In order to work out our answer to that question, I’ve got three questions (I’ve put each in three different ways – make your choice!):
- What is your family like? / What do you enjoy doing together? / How would you describe your family in 3 words?
- What season in your family in? / What has been your lock down experience this year? / What three words would you use to describe where you’re at as a family?
- What does faith at home look like for your family? / What faith activities do you already do together? / When and where do you find yourselves together connecting with God?
I think the answers to these questions will help you work out what the best way forward is for your unique family in this season.
For example, what if your family could be described as: Active, Fun, High energy, your season described at Busy, Flexible, Tense and you find you’re usually only connecting with God together at bedtime prayers or in church zoom sessions, you might want to:
- be kind to yourself, and focus on what you are doing – what could you add / change in your bedtime prayers or church zooms to get more from them? Make sure you chat about this together – your children might have some awesome ideas!
- find things you are doing which are less important to you than connecting with each other and Jesus and work out ways to reduce the time they take or remove them from your diary completely! This might take time, especially if they are activities which involve your family, but in a month or two, you will find yourselves being more intentional with your time, investing in the things which really matter to you.
- research and chat with your family about ways you could do some active, high energy connecting with God – what might that look like? Indoors or outside? Do you need a resources to help you or could you just make something up and see how it goes?
Or what about if you’d describe your family as Close, Grown up and Playful, your season as Isolated, Quiet and Recuperating and your family connects well with God in times of worship, family meals and walks in nature, you might want to:
- be kind to yourself, and focus on doing what you need to survive and maybe thrive in this season, recognising it isn’t for ever, but that you need healthy ways to live and grow in it.
- have a think about what you get from the times of worship together and family meals and see if you and your children can work out fun, creative ways to achieve those things even if you can’t meet up. What do meals give you? Time to chat? A feeling of togetherness? Great food? How might you get those things in other ways?
- connect with other families going through similar seasons. This might be contacting friends or meeting others online or perhaps through a book about a family in a similar season.
Or what if you work or are part of a team in church and you’d describe your family as: Energetic, committed and generous, your season as Hectic, Tiring and fraught, while the ways you like to connect with God include going to church(but not on Zoom!), family worship sessions in the kitchen, walking in nature and daily conversations. You might want to:
- be kind to yourself and review how much you have done this year, how much you’ve learnt and grown, and not just you personally, but also your family. See if you can think of a few times when you’ve experienced God really meeting with you even though you’ve not been at church together much. Thank God for these times and ask Him to give you eyes to spot even more!
- have a think about the ways you do meet with God together and if you need something different in them or just more opportunities for them to happen. Are there things you could change or stop to help this happen?
- chat with friends about ways they have experienced God in this season, and invite your church to give you feedback about their journeys too, as this may encourage you to see that your work is worthwhile and that God is at work!
Maybe your answers were anything like those three scenarios, but hopefully as you think about your answers, you might find a way to be kind to yourself, to consider what tweaks you can make to what you are already doing and perhaps a new thing which will give energy to your desire to connect with God this Christmas.
There are a million ways out there to connect with God at Christmas, and you’re probably doing some of them already. And of course, you only need to do the ones which work for your unique family in the season you find yourselves in. You’ll each have your own unique way of connecting with God, so your family way will be a unique combination of your uniquenesses!!
Most ways to connect with God don’t take a lot of preparation or expertise. They often don’t require any craft or book resource. They do need us to ignore the picture-perfect ways of doing ‘faith at home’ which our minds create, and require us to kindle our desire to meet with Him.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8
Did you know that the Hebrew word from which we get the word ‘sacrifice’ or ‘offering’ (korban) literally means ‘draw near’ or ‘come close’? This is why Jesus came – to enable us all to draw near to the maker of the universe. In this busy season, let’s not forget to draw near to Emmanuel, God with us.