Give Your Christmas to Jesus

     The Christmas decorations are up. Christmas music is playing. In fact, we will be singing some carols already this morning! As a family, the Zieglers start celebrating Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving is over (we normally get our tree and put it up the day after, when everyone else is out loading up their credit cards). I’ve never understood those who are so critical of Christmas starting early. They know little of Christmas tradition. Historically, Christmas started at the beginning of December and lasted the whole month….but that’s another subject.
     While we like to start early, we also celebrate Christmas differently than most families. Oh, we put up decorations and we play Christmas music at home (our kids complain about that part). But when it comes to celebrating, we have never done a lot of gift giving. And that part, our kids have never complained about. For years I have heard Christians criticize the commercialization of Christmas and talk about how materialistic Christmas has become, all the while they are participating, spending lavishly on their kids and grandkids. When our children were small we simply said, “We’re not going to do that.” And we don’t.
    
Instead, we come up with giving and serving projects; that is projects where we can participate as a family in giving to others or serving others. A few years ago I invited our entire church to join us on a major project that we called, “Give Your Christmas to Jesus.” We asked the whole church to forgo gift-giving that year and take the money they would have spent and use it for an all church missions trip to Mexico. Along with scores of other families in our church, we conducted a medical clinic for those who did not have health care. We built two houses for families who were living in cardboard lean-tos. And we presented the Gospel to children through VBS programs in poor neighborhoods. After giving up their traditional Christmas of “getting,” every kid on that trip told their parents it was their best Christmas ever and I heard over and over, “Let’s do this every year!”
     Well, we may not leave the country for a missions trip every year, but we can have a blast every year by involving ourselves in giving and serving projects, as opposed blending in with all of society’s consumption and consumerism craze. Perhaps you have heard of Pastors Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, and Greg Holder and their “Advent Conspiracy.” We’ll talk about that in weeks to come but as this Christmas season is just beginning, I want to encourage every family to have a sit-down prayerful discussion about how you will “go against the grain” this year. How will you make Christmas different? How will you use this season to impact eternity, rather than the overflow our landfills a few years from now? I have some ideas for you….some projects we as a church and you as a family can join. Stay tuned!

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