As a follower of Jesus, you know that the month of December, at least in North America, is unlike any other time of year: for eleven of twelve months, much of society won’t acknowledge the Lord except in their litany of curse words; but for one month in twelve, folks will acknowledge him! They’ll sing about him, and even recognize his birthday!
Yes, December is a month unlike any other. And we are wise to take advantage of that. But how? How can we maximize the potential that December brings?
There are two main things we can do, as I see it. The first is to live out the real meaning of Christmas by not getting caught up in consumerism. This can be really difficult to do, especially if you have children. (My sister-in-law, when her children were small, had them convinced that any toy that had to be advertised on television was obviously not worth having! But that ploy probably would not work with most kids today.) By celebrating Advent, and using the four weeks prior to Christmas as a season of hope and anticipation, we can pay less heed to the consumeristic side of the season. When we give gifts, we can be careful to choose gifts that will be meaningful for the recipients; quality over quantity can have a real impact on others. We can decorate our homes in Advent in ways that show our anticipation of the birth and second coming of Christ. We can celebrate the true meaning of the season.
The second thing we can do is be intentional about inviting our friends and family to worship. At no other time of year are people as open to an invitation to church as they are in December – particularly around Christmas Eve. There is still something of a cultural tolerance – acceptance, even – of going to church at Christmas time. As the church, let’s harness that as fully as we can. Whatever church community we’re involved in, let’s encourage our pastors and church leaders to present the message of the gospel at these services so that people can hear the true meaning of Christmas, even as they see it lived out in us.
Do all you can to make Isaiah’s prophecy true for your friends and neighbours: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine” (Isaiah 9.2, NLT). God’s best as you serve as vessels of the Spirit for making Jesus’ birthday all it can be!