Written by Madeline Kalu
I can’t believe that the holiday season is already upon us. It felt like just a few short months ago that l pulled down the mistletoe, swept up the last remaining pine needles, and boxed up my Christmas decorations.
And yet, overnight, the world has set its alarm clock for the holiday countdown. In response, l find myself getting caught up in the frantic pace of getting the house holiday ready, planning festive meals, and buying and wrapping presents.
Years of experience have made us adept at preparing ourselves physically for the Yuletide period, but how much attention have we paid to preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ?
If you too are getting swept up in the madness of the holiday countdown, the following are 6 ways that will help you to take a step back and prepare your heart this season.
1. Remember what Christmas is really about
It’s easy to get tunnel vision from the commercial enticement and the societal expectations of the holiday season. Every wreath-festooned street and festively dressed shop window is an ongoing reminder for us to participate in a global enterprise of consumerism and culinary indulgence. It is a sharp comparison to the humble entry of Jesus, who was born in a stable and placed in a straw-filled manger.
However, as Christians, we know that greater is He who is in us than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4). So, although it’s lovely to participate in holiday traditions, we need to remember that this season is about more than a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, expensive presents, and a sumptuous Christmas Day banquet. It is a time where we can commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. For without His Ministry on earth and consequent sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, we would still be held in eternal bondage by sin.
Although the build-up to Christmas may last weeks, Christmas Day is just that – a day. However, the relationship we have with God through the death and resurrection of His precious Son is eternal. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).
2. Focus on your Provider instead of only providing for others
At the beginning of every holiday season, l start formulating to-do lists of all the things l need to prepare for the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. It’s important to me to provide my family with a wonderful holiday experience, and l want to make sure that l haven’t forgotten anything.
However, in the process of making endless preparations, l can easily lose sight of the One, who provides me with life, peace, and all my needs – not just during the holidays, but every day.
At such times, l need to take a breath and re-set my mind to what should be my most important priority – honoring and worshipping God.
Therefore, if you also tend to get swept up in the frenzy of holiday preparations, switch your focus to God by making Him a priority. By doing that, you’ll see that He will provide you with peace, energy, and joy for the season.
3. Have an attitude of gratitude
The holiday season is a time for many of us to enjoy the fruits of what we have achieved during the year. We have our homes and our families, we have a bulging fridge full of food to eat on Christmas Day, and we have financial resources to buy presents for our loved ones.
However, there are people around the world who experience the holidays differently. Many spend Christmas alone feeling abandoned and neglected. Families who have hit hard financial times are having difficulty providing their children with a happy Christmas experience. Too many people are living on the streets without the opportunity to enjoy a hot Christmas meal and a stable roof under their heads.
Therefore, as you enter the holiday season, take a moment to thank God for all the ways He has blessed you and your family this year and say a prayer for those who are struggling during this period.
4. Spend time with God and the Word
Regular routines go out the window during the holiday season, including spending regular time with God. However, seeking God’s presence is exactly the thing that can bring us peace, charge our batteries, and keep our eyes on Him amidst the flurry of social engagements and holiday planning.
For that reason, make it a priority to allocate time every day for God. During that time, spend time in prayer, worship, and thanksgiving for the upcoming season. You can even sing some Christmas songs!
Additionally, scriptures that herald the coming of Jesus (Matthew 1:23), declare His glory (John 1:14), and speak of God’s promise of Salvation through Jesus (John 3:16) will keep you focused on what Christmas is essentially about – the birth of Jesus and His gift of eternal righteousness with God that He gave us.
5. Enjoy the whimsy of the season
The holiday period brings with it an infectious atmosphere of fun, gaiety, and anticipation. It is the home stretch to a celebratory ending of an old year and the anticipation of a promising and eventful new year.
Children can be our best teachers in embracing the frivolity of the season. When experiencing the abandoned delight with which children embrace holiday experiences, it is easy to see why Jesus says that we should become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3).
So, take a leaf out of your child’s book and wear a cheeky Christmas tie to work or don a pair of Christmas bauble earrings (mine are pink). Crank up your favorite Christmas song and prance around the house like Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly!
6. Bring the Good News to others
Our priority during the holiday season is to look after our families and provide them with the ultimate holiday experience.
In the Kingdom, we are all God’s children, yet many people are unaware of the Good News of the Bible and that Salvation through the grace of Jesus is available to them.
In Luke 17.21, it states that the Kingdom of God is within you. Therefore, reach out to someone, who needs to know about the message of hope, love, and Salvation that Jesus came to share with us.
Ask your neighbor over for a holiday cup of candy cane coffee and Christmas cookies, or ring up a friend whom you haven’t heard from in a while and ask them how they’re doing. Invite someone, who is alone, to spend Christmas Day dinner with you and your family.
Sharing the Gospel is not only done through biblical instruction, it is also conveyed when we share with others the love of Jesus that resides in us. It is the ultimate form of worship, especially during the holiday season.
The holiday period is a season to be enjoyed with all that it has to offer. It’s a time of love, laughter, and joy. All the more reason that we need to prepare our hearts by remembering the ultimate expression of love from God – His gift of Salvation through the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.