Please join me in welcoming Ruth O'Neil, one of the authors of the new book, The 25 Days of Christmas Family Devotional. Read below to find out more and read an excerpt.
Many of us get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas. One way to prevent that is to focus on the reason for the season. Taking a few minutes each day with this different kind of devotional book will help your family think of others. Each day focuses on one word and includes a story from Daniel and Holly's family, a Scripture reading with the devotional, the YouTube link to a Christmas Carol, and an activity that the entire family can be involved in.
"I have a surprise for you kids," Mom said as soon as Daniel and Holly walked in the door after school.
"What?" They both wanted to know.
"Follow me," Mom requested as she walked toward the family room.
Two-year-old Evie followed along behind, clapping her hands and giggling.
"She must know what the secret is," Daniel commented to Holly.
Holly laughed when Evie shouted, "Sec-et! Sec-et!"
Mom smiled as well. "That's her new word for the day."
Then Mom held up a box that had a bunch of what looked like little doors. Twenty-five of them to be exact. They each had a number.
"What's that?" Daniel asked.
"It's an Advent calendar. Each day we'll open one. Behind each door is a treat for each of you and a word we can talk about to help us prepare for Christmas."
"Can we open one now?" Holly wanted to know.
"You may." Mom pointed to the first door.
"Advent," Holy read after she took out three small candies and handed one to Daniel and Evie.
"Advent is all about the days leading up to Christmas. We can talk about what Christmas really means and prepare our hearts to worship Christ."
"Why did Jesus have to come to earth as a baby? Why couldn't He come as a grown-up?" Daniel wondered as he picked up the baby Jesus from the Nativity set.
"Well, Jesus needed time to prepare, too. He needed to experience all the things we experience. He experienced what it was like to grow up, have a family and friends, and be tempted by sin just like the rest of us. No matter what problems we face in life, Jesus truly understands."
"But I thought Jesus was perfect and never sinned?" Holly questioned.
Mom nodded her head. "He was perfect. He didn't ever sin, but He still went through a lot of the same things we do. Because He lived a perfect and sinless life, that's what made Him a suitable sacrifice for our sins. Only a perfect Man could pay the price for us."
Daniel and Holly didn't say anything. For a few moments, the only sound heard was Evie slurping her candy and quietly repeating, "Sec-et."
Mom continued. "God had to prepare the world for Salvation to come in the form of His Son, Jesus. It wouldn't happen overnight. It would take Jesus' entire life time here on earth."
Daniel, always the one who wanted to learn more, said, "I think this will be interesting."
"I think this will be fun," Holly gave her opinion.
"I think it will help prepare us all and help us to understand Christmas just a little bit better."
Read Matthew 25:1-13
This man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25b-26
Advent is a time of preparation. The Christmas Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. Many families, especially those with young children, have Advent calendars. Each day the children get to open a door, receive a little gift, or remove an object in the countdown for and in anticipation of Christmas.
Children, for the most part, look forward to Christmas because of the gifts they will receive. That’s not a bad thing, but we as adults, should have a much deeper anticipation of Christmas. We take the time to buy and wrap gifts, prepare food, clean the house for guests, buy new outfits, attend parties, etc. But how much time do we put into meditating on the actual birth of Christ and worshipping Him?
Many years, at least in our household, we spend time putting up the tree and decorating it, only to ignore it. We more often than not, sit in the room with the TV. Unfortunately, that’s often the way we are with God as well. We accept Him as Savior. We attend church on Sundays. Other than that, we pretty much ignore Him, too.
This Christmas, in anticipation of the celebration of His birth, let’s focus on Him a little more throughout the month. Let’s prepare our hearts by reflecting on why He came to earth.
Christmas will be that much more special when we focus on the true Reason for the Season.
This activity will take some extra planning. Get together as a family; you can even invite your extended family members to take part in this one as well. Choose a family that is in need; try to find a specific need if possible. Gather together money to give to that family for the specific need that they have. If possible, try not to let them know where their Christmas gift is coming from. That makes it all the more exciting for both them and you.
Song - The Twelve Days of Christmas (How I Want to Sing)
About the Author
Ruth O’Neil has been a freelance writer for 20-plus years. She sees everything as a writing opportunity in disguise, whether it is an interesting character, setting, or situation. You can find her book series “What a Difference a Year Makes” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or her website. You can also visit her on her blog. When she’s not writing or homeschooling her kids, Ruth spends her time quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping and hiking with her family.