Nothing is more precious than a newborn baby. However, in the months leading up to his birth, a lot goes into organizing for that infant’s arrival! One major undertaking for most expectant families is clearing out a room to become the nursery in order to fill it with baby items: a crib, changing table, toy shelves, diapers, burp cloths, and bibs. Hours of thought even go into deciding on a theme for the nursery décor, bedding, and stroller.
Christmas Advent includes preparation as well. Not with finding a spare room in our homes, but in our hearts, for the arrival of Jesus! As we move expectantly into this year’s Advent season, let’s consider the thoughts and actions of a certain mom in biblical history—Mary—as she gave intentional focus to servanthood, acceptance, thankfulness, and finally celebration in preparing for the coming of her firstborn child—Jesus!
WEEK 1 (December 2):
“\’I am the Lord’s servant,\’ said Mary. Luke 1:38
Gifting vs. Giving (of Yourself)
From the time we’re young, we aspire to greatness! As children, we tell our parents that one day we will be the best doctor or astronaut or dancer they’ve ever seen! As parents, we then brag to others as we tell them how great our kids are with all their endeavors.
There’s nothing wrong with striving to use God-given talents and skills in the very best ways possible. But proper attitude is key! We’re reminded of this in Philippians 2:3-4, where we read: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Even though many people ascribe to Mary greatness for being the mother of Jesus, Mary’s attitude going into her pregnancy with the Christ child was one of humility in servanthood to God—giving her total being to the Lord without hesitation.
As we look toward Christmas Day this year, how can we change our focus from achieving greatness in the eyes of others to serving one another out of the blessings God has already given us?
This month, try a few of these “giving” activities to those in your community:
- Serve in your city’s soup kitchen for the homeless.
- Take some easy-to-heat meals to an elderly neighbor.
- Collect colorful, fun hats and gloves (child and adult sizes) for a homeless shelter.
- Deliver Christmas goodies to a local pregnancy center.
- Invite a college student (who can’t get home for the holidays) to your home for Christmas parties or on Christmas Day!
WEEK 2 (December 9):
“May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Worth the Wait
Especially for kids, it’s hard to wait for Christmas Day to get here! How often do we hear our children ask, “How many more days until Christmas?” The anticipation of ripping open big, shiny, bow-wrapped gifts is almost more than kids can stand! They ask the question each time—even though they really don’t want to wait until Christmas!
As parents, we also get in a hurry for what, how, and when we want things. Waiting often feels unbearable! How can we model to our children the ability to be satisfied with answers given from God, accepting His plans over what we may be wishing for or wanting to hear?
In this week’s Advent verse, Mary’s summation was right on point in her attitude and timing when she told the angel Gabriel, “May it be to me as you have said.”
Use the acronym W–A–I–T for ideas to use with your family as you count down the days leading to Christmas.
W “Welcome Christmastime! Idea Jar” Place a festively decorated jar in a common area of your house, along with small pieces of paper and a pencil. As ideas come for things to do over Christmas break, write them down and toss them in the jar. Then have fun engaging in those activities!
A Assemble a Christmas tree (real or artificial) for an elderly person in your neighborhood or church or help a single mom who might need assistance with her décor.
I Invite families of your children’s friends to a Christmas program at your church.
T Text one person each day between now and Christmas with a heartfelt Christmastime greeting. Adding an appropriate seasonal meme would be a fun touch as well!
WEEK 3 (December 16):
“My soul praises the greatness of the Lord.” Luke 1:46
There are moments that are difficult to express in words. One such time for me was immediately following my son’s birth. I had a C-section, so I was hooked up to all types of tubes for anesthesia and oxygen. But even with all of those awkward instruments and positioning of my body, I’ll never forget the moment the doctor laid my newborn son to my chest after he was born. My eyes immediately filled with tears of absolute joy in witnessing the arrival of my long-awaited baby boy!
Mary was obviously struck with such great pleasure that her very soul was overwhelmed in thankfulness to the Lord for giving her such wonderful news—that soon, she would be the mother of Baby Jesus!
Assign (or draw for) names of all family members. Each person is to write (or younger children may draw pictures) how they are thankful for the family member assigned to them. In other words, how they’ve been a “Christmas blessing” this past year. The message may be gift-wrapped and then opened Christmas Day.
WEEK 4 (December 23):
“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:47
Let the Party Begin!
This season, no doubt you’ve been part of at least one Christmas party with tables overflowing with food, hours of enjoyment with friends, and possibly funny gift exchanges. Holiday celebrations are simply part of the Christmas spirit!
But years before holiday parties came about, Mary celebrated (rejoiced) over the news that Jesus would soon be arriving! She knew Jesus was not just a baby to be born. He would be “great … the Son of the Most High”—the Savior!
What are some ways your family can celebrate Jesus amidst other Christmas events? Start this focus when your kids are young and make it part of your Christmastime tradition. Here are a few ideas:
- Enjoy a “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” cake as part of your family’s Christmas Eve party. Sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus before you begin eating it.
- Set up a makeshift Nativity scene alongside your Christmas tree décor. Talk with younger children about the biblical story of Mary and Joseph watching over Baby Jesus.
- Keep child-safe Nativity sets available for preschoolers and younger children to play with during weeks leading up to Christmas, and talk about it with them.
This post was provided by ParentLife Magazine. The writer, Dixie Walker is a freelance writer of Christian family ministry resources. She and her family reside in Nashville, Tenn.