The question starts around the middle of summer in our house – “Dad, are we going to do that thing at Christmas this year where we talk about the Bible every night?” Now, around our house we talk about the Bible quite a bit. We have discussions around the dinner table about what our kids are learning in Sunday School, the songs in our home are often streamed from the top hits on Christian radio, and VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible play in regular rotation in our DVD players or in our queue on Netflix. But as the calendar turns to December every year, we become even more intentional. Before Susan and I had kids, we decided we would do all that we could to make sure that Christmas was more than an exercise in supply and demand – you know, the kids demand something and we supply it. Over the last few years, the best way we have been able to be intentional is through our Christmas devotions in December. What we have discovered is that our kids now look forward to these times together in December as much as anything else in the Christmas season. (Perhaps that also has something to do with the fact that alongside our devotions last year, we used the LEGO Advent Calendar that gave them a new LEGO everyday.)
I want to encourage you and your family to consider spending time this Christmas preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Whether you are a family with small children, a couple who is recently married, a family with teenagers, an empty nest couple, or a senior adult, taking some time this Christmas to focus on Jesus will impact the way you celebrate. Below you will find some online resources for you and your family to intentionally celebrate the Christmas season.
1. YouVersion Reading Plans (best for individuals, couples, and families with children of all ages)- YouVersion is a great place to start for individuals looking for a devotional to take them through the month of December. They have a variety of reading plans and devotionals on various topics. We used a combination of YouVersion plans last Christmas in our family. One of the great qualities of YouVersion is that you can have the reading plan with you almost anywhere you go through their mobile apps and webpage.
2. Thriving Family Advent Activity Calendar 2012 (best for families with younger children) – Focus on the Family publishes this calendar each year to help families center their holiday around Christ. Each day has a short Scripture passage to read and an activity that corresponds to a theme from that passage. Throughout the month, they have also included family service projects and discussion starters that you can participate in on their Facebook page. We have used this guide and found that it was easy to use and meaningful.
3. Advent Guide from Village Church (best for young adults, couples, and families with teenagers) – The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX has provided this resource for their families and for other churches to be able to use. Their guide is theologically rich and centered around weekly Scripture passages and questions. They do provide some activities for families, but not on a daily basis. The guide will focus the Christmas story on the overall Gospel story of our need for a Savior.
4. Everyday Emmanuel (best for families with preschoolers and elementary age children – cost is $9.99) – This devotional is published by the group behind the great What’s in the Bible? videos. Last year, they released a video that answered the big questions about Christmas for kids. This year, they have developed an Advent guide that centers around some of those questions. The download includes instructions on how to make an Advent wreath and ornaments, activity pages, links to online videos, and devotionals. Our family is planning on using this guide for this year.
I hope these resources will be helpful as you try to focus this season on our Savior. Do you have guides or devotionals that you like to use? What are you using this year?