Friday, 07 December 2012 01:25

The Christmas Advantage

Written by  Lettie Kirkpatrick
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Unique Opportunities to Share Christ this Season

 

It can be almost “cool” to be a Christian at Christmas.  Even unbelievers assume many of the trappings of our faith.  And they are blissfully unaware that most of their decorations represent truths about Christianity.  It’s a great time to take advantage of opportunities to share Christ and give witness to the events that led to this celebration.  Consider these ideas for helping lost friends and relatives see the Savior in this season.

 

•  Send Those Cards

Carefully choose or create cards with a distinctively Christian message. Consider including a personal note to reinforce the truths presented.  For instance, I include a brief letter containing family news, but I always conclude the note with a reminder that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth and our Christian faith. The year our teenage daughter died, my final sentences declared, “It is this season that brought to us the hope that we now affirm ... His birth and death brought to us everlasting life.”

           

•  Bake Some Cookies

Deliver a sweet witness by baking up batches of sugar cookie cutouts.  Use Christmas symbols such as stars, angels, wreaths, bells, trees, and candy canes.  Prepare a colorful sheet explaining the meaning of the symbols (included in this article) and deliver them with your goodies.  Add a note of appreciation, along with an invitation to special Christmas events at your church, and share them with your service providers: mechanics, pharmacists, a favorite bag boy or cashier, or the employees or your most frequented fast food establishment.  Ask God where to go with the treats.

 

•  Extend An Invitation to Church

Plan to offer hospitality targeted to lost friends, neighbors, and family members. It might be an invitation to a holiday service at church, followed by dessert and coffee in your home. My friend Rhonda Reese recalls a young couple attending their Christmas service  at the invitation of neighbors.  They were unbelievers and seemed to be committed to a worldly lifestyle.  But they brought their two small children and God worked.  Even though no altar call was given, this couple went forward and found Christ and a church family.

           

•  Invite Someone to Your Home

The Ervin family encouraged their teenagers to invite friends to a special Christmas event in their home.  They included lost teens and some who needed discipling.  The family had an interactive advent celebration focusing on the Christmas story.  Then together they decorated a Names of Jesus Tree with handmade ornaments representing names used for Jesus in the Bible.  They read the accompanying verses and hung their ornaments.  The evening stimulated discussion among those teens.

           

•  Read Some Books

Find opportunity to share Jesus and delight in the joy of children by making use of some of this season’s abundant literature.  I went into my son’s elementary classroom as a story reader.  Because I included other Christmas material and did not attempt to evangelize, I was able to read a colorful children’s book containing the Christmas story and another book about Jesus’ birth called The Tiny Star. I later received a note from the teacher thanking me for “caring about her children’s souls”.

 

Local daycare providers may be glad to have a guest reader or consider volunteering as a reader in a children’s library program.  Well written and carefully chosen books can often contribute a gospel message without being “offensive”.

           

•  Give Good Gifts

Thoughtful gifts can communicate Christ’s love and our faith in this season.  One friend gave a nativity set to her neighbors, even though they are Buddhists.  She explained to them what part each piece represented in the birth of Christ.  Although her friends have not yet become believers, they continue to display their nativity.

             

•  Stuff a Stocking

Another  woman on mission has given fun gifts with a clear Christian witness to her neighbors anonymously (not really) for several years.  She stuffs stockings with candy, cookies, Christmas tracts, Scripture, an invitation to holiday events at her church, and a personal prayer written for each family.  Her early morning “secret” deliveries to their doorsteps delight her neighborhood.

           

•  Deliver Evangelistic Baskets

Consider using “Christmas Is Coming” baskets as an evangelistic tool for families.  These baskets should actually be delivered in late November, but early December can also work. I fill mine with Christmas music, an advent calendar depicting the birth of Christ, a Christmas book, holiday snacks, a candle, a nativity ornament, and a card reminding recipients that Jesus is the real “reason for the upcoming season”.  To keep costs down, plan ahead and purchase most ingredients for these baskets at after-Christmas sales the year before.

 

The aftermath of Christmas often brings a letdown because the excitement and expectation has peaked and crashed.  But that won’t be so if we have received the vision of “the Christmas advantage”. The season leaves instead a legacy of joy at having been a participant in eternity’s work. 

 

 

SYMBOLS OF CHRISTMAS

 

l. Wreath—its circular shape represents everlasting life and the circle of family.  Its presence on a door signifies welcome.

 

2. Candles and tree lights—remind us that we celebrate the birth of the “Light” of the world.  Candles are also used symbolically to light the way for the Christ child.

 

3. Bells—In the Middle Ages the ringing bells were used to warn the devil of the pending birth of Christ.  Ringing increased at midnight to declare His joyous arrival.

           

4. Angels—declared His coming birth and then appeared as choir participants in God’s “singing birth announcement”.

 

5. Holly—Early Christians believed that Jesus’ crown of thorns was woven from holly.  Its berries stood for the blood of the Savior.  Legend says that the berries were originally white and turned red after Jesus’ death.

 

6. Creche (French for manger)—the nativity was first set up by Francis of Assisi more than 700 years ago—l223 A.D.  His animals were alive.

 

7. Star—symbols of the star of Bethlehem that led the way to the Christ child.  Also, Scriptures refer to Jesus as the Bright and Morning star.

 

8. Poinsetta—In l828, Dr. Joel Poinsett brought the first plant to America from Mexico.  Legend is that a Mexican boy had no gift for the Christchild.  As he knelt to pray, a beautiful flower appeared at his feet.  This plant, the poinsetta became his present.                

                                                                               

9. Tree—the first trees were decorated with fruit and candles.  There are many legends about the Christmas tree.  The modern tradition comes from Germany where the tree was used as a prop in a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve.  Use of the tree as a Christmas symbol spread from Lutheran Germany to England during the nineteenth century.

 

10. Candy Cane—a replica of the shepherd’s staff and reminder of those who were first to hear the Great Birth Announcement.

 

Lettie Kirkpatrick is a contributing writer.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 December 2017 11:30
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