Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Practical Tips for Family Devotions This Christmas

  • Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Practical Tips for Family Devotions This Christmas

When looking to reflect and celebrate the Advent Season as a family, it’s important to keep some key elements of our devotional activities front and center. Christ is sole reason for Christmas; everything we do reminds, or causes us to reflect upon Him. If we can accomplish daily focus on Jesus, then our Christmas is bound to mean more this year than ever before.

There is an intimacy created when we experience Scripture together as a family. The power of God’s spoken word has the ability to meet us right where we are, separately and together, simultaneously. Take the time this Advent Season to intentionally sit as a family and allow Him to minister to and prepare our hearts.

Families need this time, if only for the Advent season, to reconnect and bond together as they walk through this season of celebration. Perhaps divorce lingers on the horizon as fights fill the hallways of our homes; maybe our kids have been the victim of bullying and we’ve had to watch their innocent light burn down to just a flicker. This holiday may be bringing with it the celebration of a new addition to the family, or union of a blended one. Jesus is amidst every circumstance we live through.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/evgenyatamanenko

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

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    I cannot recommend this book enough for families that are looking for guidance in how to go about doing devotions as a family. VosKamp’s book is beautifully illustrated, which captivates the imagination and holds the attention of children. The poetic way she teaches and tells of the classic Scriptural stories of Christmas lingers like a song as we press on through the days of Advent. Each day of Advent is introduced by a portion of Scripture, followed by VosKamp’s paraphrase and teaching of the story, practically applied and tied into our current stance on earth in a way all can relate to. 

    After the daily reading, there are discussion questions that allow families to take what they have read one step farther. Applying the Scripture directly to our daily situations helps to cement our knowledge of our Savior, Jesus. Who He is lies in how He ministers to us through His Word, daily. These questions really help to connect our lives to Him. Following the questions is an option to participate in the Jesse Tree by purchasing or printing ornaments to adorn a tree as a visual reminder of His presence this season.

     

    Photo credit: Google/DaySpring.com 

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    2. Truth in the Tinsel

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    From her top spot as a phenomenal mommy blogger, Oh Amanda has brought us Truth in the Tinsel. It’s an interactive way to get kids involved in the spirit of the Advent Season. The ebook lends a list of all the supplies needed to make a handcrafted ornament for each day of the Advent season. Each day there is a Scripture and brief description to explain, on a kid level, what the significance of each story is. 

    Create a crafting station this Christmas season, and watch little faces light up at the chance to spend some time creating a little piece of Christmas each day. Designate a Christmas tree as the Advent tree, so that by the end of the season the whole story can unfold on its branches. If craftiness is not your strength, there are tons of improvisations and ideas out on the the Oh Amanda blog and social media sites. Children can remake the ornaments year after year, or simply pull out the originals and redecorate the tree day by day, each year.  

     

    Photo credit: TruthintheTinsel.com

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    3. Storybook Christmas

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    There are so many good Christmas books out there that tell of the story of Jesus, as well as the spirit of kindness and giving this season brings. Cuddle up with the kiddos and a story to be read allowed. Reading aloud to children, and giving them the opportunity to read aloud to us, is proven to improve their reading skills. Imagine the gift we are giving them by allowing the Christmas message to sink in deep, too. 

    Families often fail to sit together, because our world is so busy. We all have our own devices and agendas. It’s important to have an excuse to put them down and refocus. Head online together to make a list of stories to read as a family and add to the storybook collection this year, and then go to the local library or bookstore and dive into the Christmas section. Books will remain a significant part of family tradition, as they are a lot more meaningful to pass on than an app or a clip. Plus, it lends us a gateway to add daily focus to what Scripture adds to what we read. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/VasylDolmatov

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    4. Reel Them in

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    Christmas movies have become part of the hallmark that stamps this season with tradition. Each has one they anticipate watching, be it funny or sentimental, cartoon-based or written to a score of songs. Many networks play the most popular pics throughout the season. Check local and satellite listings for when old favorites and new additions will air, and plan a movie night routine to break up the busy week. 

    A great way to ensure that the true meaning of Christmas translates from what we see on the screen is to discuss it afterwards. It doesn’t have to be a full-on Bible lesson of what the movie got right and wrong about the Christmas season; rather, there is almost always an element that can be pulled and linked to our Savior’s season of celebration. He is God. He is everywhere. He is with us. When we seek Him, we see Him everywhere we look. Look for the lessons to tie movies to, or distinguish from, what is real. 

     

    Photo credit: Google/HolidayFilmReviews.blogspot.com

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    5. Continuing My Routine

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    Many families already have a routine reading of Scripture that they walk through daily. If that is the case, continue on! There is no need to change books or methods at Christmastime. It can be a little more fun, but it’s not a requirement. We don’t have to read through the gospel of Luke to experience the importance of Jesus’ birth. He’s present throughout the entire Bible. 

    This Christmas season, instill a challenge to add an extra step to our daily readings by asking, “What does this passage teach us about Jesus?” Followed by a reminder of the Christmas season, and what that means to Christians. This is a great way to keep the true meaning of Christmas top of mind without overcommitting to an addition in our routine. Take advantage of the free access many Bible websites offer to research Scripture, to ensure we are linking passages to Jesus correctly. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Stockbyte

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    6. Count the Days Down

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    Advent calendars are a great way to set a devotional time as a family for the holidays. Children love to count down the days until Santa comes, and this gives parents a great cue to gently remind each day that it’s Jesus we celebrate most of all. Santa, presents, and all of the other celebratory traditions remind us of the gift that Jesus is to us. He gave, so we can give. 

    There are many different versions of Advent calendars. Some hold pieces of candy for each day that is opened, and others hold a toy! The Lego Advent Calendars allow children to build something each day of advent, and still others contain a challenge each day to give to others. These are all fun opportunities for children to understand that every day really is a gift … because of Jesus! And learning to give like He did helps them to feel the joy it brings. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/gwenaellevot

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    7. Kids Ministry Resources

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    Kids Ministry volunteers and employees have a passion and a heart for sharing the gospel with children and their families. They study the way kids relate to Scripture, and are knowledgable in how to teach a message that will stick to their hearts. Pull out the take-home materials that are passed out each week at church, and make a point to tie in what they are teaching to the weekly routine. 

    Those that do not attend church regularly shouldn’t be timid about calling or emailing a kids ministry program at any church for advice or materials to help guide their kids through Advent as a family. To take it one step further, maybe there is a way to volunteer as a family during in this ministry during the holiday season. It will add to daily conversation of what they are learning and help grow our families in Christ, together. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    8. Create Your Own Calendar

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    Every year, I download a calendar that has one kind act for us to do as a family everyday …and  every year it fails to get any air time. The actions on the calendar are always great ideas, but not practical for me to execute on a daily basis with my busy family. Only we know the who and what that touches our lives, and the needs that we can realistically meet during the Christmas season. 

    Make your own calendar of Advent kindness. Start by thinking of the people that we know, namely our neighbors, and what they might need help with or enjoy as a special treat this holiday season. Look into the routine of our days for the people that teach our kids, meet with us to study God’s Word, and check out our groceries with a smile each week. We can make a difference in their lives just by remembering who they are this Christmas. Fill up each square of the month with something that we can do for them or give them out of the provision we already have in our homes. Seek to give, because we have received. 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    9. Kindness Elves

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    These little elves combine the magic of the season with the true hallmark of kindness and giving. They leave a kindness challenge for children to find, and a little note to congratulate them for a job well done. What better way to solidify the importance of kindness than by recognizing their obedience in fulfilling the act of kindness itself? 

    So often, we know what we should do, but turn away due to business or the amount of work required. As Christians, we will receive rewards in heaven for our good deeds! Yes! We should recognize the good that we do, knowing that it doesn’t earn our salvation in any way, but it does matter to God. If giving didn’t matter, He would not have given us Jesus … the greatest gift of all. Whether we purchase the whole kindness elf experience or create and craft our own, the effort is worth it tenfold. For the Bible assures us that if we teach a child the way to go, they will not falter when they are older. 

     

    Photo credit: TheKindnessElves.com

  • 1. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann VosKamp

    10. Make an Advent Wreath

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    In many denominations, and Advent wreath is lit to signify the passing weeks of Advent. Christ is the true light of the world, and as each week slips by, the wreath becomes brighter and brighter. This is what Jesus did for our world—He lit it up! He is the light. As we wait patiently for the day we celebrate His birth, this is a great way to organize a devotional time as a family to reflect on what that means. 

    While making the wreath, seek out the meaning behind each piece of the wreath, together. Seek the help of Pinterest for ideas on how to match the decor of the house with a holiday decoration that can become a welcome and familiar sight and an added tradition to Christmas. Upon lighting each candle of the wreath, seek to tie in a verse of Scripture that teaches about Christ being the light. A simple word search in an online Bible for the word “light” will lend a hand in starting the search. On Christmas Day, sing Happy Birthday to the light of the world! 

     

    Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/amanaimagesRF

    Meg encourages others to seek Him first through her life as a stay-at-home mom, career as a freelance writer, teaching Emotimoms Weekly Bible Study, and leading the kids worship teams at her local church. She resides in a small, Northern lake town with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Goldendoodle. Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org