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Keeping Jesus the Main Thing (2011)

posted: December 9th, 2011 by Dave Trout

What do I love about Christmas?  Where do I start?  Gingerbread houses. Snowball fights. Ornaments on the tree. Huge sales at department stores. The "Rudolph" claymation movie. Wrapping presents. Unwrapping presents. Colorful lights on houses. Cookies with green and red sprinkles.  It dawns on me - these things aren't really celebrating the main purpose of the holiday.  Does that make them bad?  No way.  All of these things bring me joy.  However, it reminds me that if I'm not careful, I could crowd out the very thing we're supposed to be celebrating the most.  So, we polled nearly 150 UTR listeners to find out what their families do to help keep Jesus the main thing at Christmastime.  We shared some of the responses in a 2010 blog post, and here are some more listener comments.  If you're looking for ideas to encourage your family, some of these traditions might be worth trying out.


Chris W. - Salida, CA - For several years now, we have enjoyed the discovery of celebrating the weeks of advent.  This was not a part of either my wife or my church or family tradition growing up.  For me, it focuses the season on Jesus and the hope, peace, love and joy he brings.

David D. - Humble, TX - We enjoy reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. Also we usually participate in a local program where we help provide gifts to a family in our area.

Michael O. - Minneapolis, MN - Playing artful, lightly-produced Christian music (stuff in the vein of UTR) has been super-helpful for treasuring Christ and his redemptive work around Christmastime.  Most traditional Christmas music starts feeling very tacky except in small doses.  Rotating in worship/hymn work from Indelible Grace, Sojourn, or Red Mountain Church, together with pretty much anything from "reflective teacher/storyteller" artists like Sara Groves, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, and Jill Phillips, does much to stave that off. 

Emily H. - Topeka, KS - We simply try to focus on the act of giving... time, food or money to those less fortunate. It's not about what we receive, but how we are reflecting the love of Christ within the community, family and friends.

Dawn B. - Lake Butler, FL - We place a Christmas Nail as the last ornament on the tree to remind us that the manger led to the cross.  We also love to watch "The Nativity Story" movie. 

Jeff C. - Palmer, TX - Turning out the lights and singing Christmas carols around the Christmas tree.

Jonathan S. - Walworth, WI - We read the promises of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament.  We have also been watching Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God" DVD this year.

Angela K. - Upland, IN - Our Christmas morning begins with a breakfast of "Jesus' birthday cake" that we make together on Christmas Eve.

Briann S. - Racine, MO - Our church puts on an interactive outdoor reenactment called Journey to Bethlehem.

Sarah V. - Richland, WA - This year we have been working on a Jesse Tree with an ornament for each day that coincides with an Old Testament story... we read these together in the evening.

Denise H. - Jasper, GA - We give our son 5 gifts for Christmas.  He gets to choose 1 of those gifts and give it away to a child who didn't get to experience Christmas.

Becki T. - Manhattan, KS - We don't focus as much on the gift giving, but more off what Christ sacrificed coming to earth as a man.   I personally give a "gift" to God each season; a sacrifice of sorts - something between you and God that you don't tell anyone or brag about.

John G. - Courtland, NY - I'm a pastor, so it's REALLY busy this time of year.  We're reading a devotional called "Uncluttered Heart" every day and remembering that God calls us to come worship Him; not go to parties or even plan services - but to be His.


In our fast-paced, consumeristic culture, I found these traditions as terrific ways to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus this season.  Did any of these ideas stike a chord with you?  Do you have additional ways your family keeps Christ as center of the holiday season?

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