The story of Christmas is incredible and mind-boggling: that the eternal God who is beyond all praise would stoop to become a human being, fully God and fully man, born into a world of sin and brokenness, in order to seek and to save the lost through his death on the cross for our sins.
It is a truth we can barely contain in our finite minds, a truth worth celebrating as we do at Christmas time, and yet we can so easily let it wash over us without it sinking into our hearts and minds. Which is why it’s really a good idea to take time out of our normal schedule and focus on the coming of our Lord in the weeks preceding Christmas, a time that the church traditionally called “Advent” (which means, “coming”). And it’s not simply about looking forward to celebrating Jesus’ first coming, it’s about preparing our hearts for his Second Coming as well!
So how do we do it? Well, here are some helpful resources that you might find useful for you and, if you have kids, to share with them:
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
This is a collection of family devotions that are medium length and have one or two questions based on a relevant Bible text, and occasionally a relevant Christmas Carol is attached to the study to sing or think on the lyrics. It’s also useful in that it doesn’t end at Christmas, but goes on to the end of the year as we continue to contemplate what it means that Christ has come.
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
(Edited by Nancy Guthrie)
Also a Nancy Guthrie book, but much more in depth and for the more serious reader. Each day is a devotion or sermonette from various Christian leaders and preachers through the centuries, such as Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, J.I. Packer and Tim Keller. As there are a wide variety of authors, the style differs from day to day and a number of the devotions are quite lengthly (but in a good way).
Why Christ Came
(Joel R. Beeke & William Boekestein)
A one page thought for the day that helps us to think on the issue of why Christ came. One of the upsides of this book is that passages are drawn from all over the Bible and not just the nativity story, giving a fuller picture of Christ’s mission and what our response to Him ought to be.
Prepare Him Room
This is not a book but a music album by Sovereign Grace that takes some of the old classic Carols and re-arranges them slightly to a more modern ensemble. Some of the carols have had extra verses added (such as O Holy Night) which may offend the purists, but adds a gospel edge to a hymn that is otherwise quite vague on why Jesus came into the world. Worth listening to on repeat in the car at Christmas time.
Truth in the Tinsel
This is more of a Christmas decoration craft activity booklet for parents to do with their kids each day in December. Each decoration is designed to point to some aspect of the Christmas story. Most of the decorations are quite simple but it will require some preparation (and shopping) beforehand. It can be purchased online here.
Buck Denver asks… why do we call it Christmas?
A one hour movie on Christmas, exploring some of the traditions that surround it and where they came from (such as Christmas trees and Santa Claus) and ending with Emmanuel – God with us – and why that’s such a great thing. An enjoyable and humorous movie for the family, or anyone who isn’t freaked out by puppets.