Through Christ, God gives us the peace, love, and joy we need to celebrate the holidays with the ones we love, even when loving them isn’t easy.
During Advent, we pause to reflect on the greatest gift ever given: Jesus. Some of us celebrate with candle lighting or special readings. Others serve in new places or send gifts abroad to unknown recipients. Many sing songs, decorate their homes, or partake in old family traditions. There are many ways to focus our hearts’ attention and to celebrate the birth of our Savior. And for many of us, that also includes giving one another gifts.
God is the ultimate gift-giver. He gave us his most beloved Son, so that those who trust in him could be reconciled to God and live in eternal joy. He has lavished us with love! So when we grab a cup of hot chocolate, plop next to a warm fire, and write out our gifts list, we can reflect his image as gift-givers. He takes delight in giving good gifts to us, which is why we find delight in giving the perfect gift for those we love.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite gift ideas below to help you start planning your lists. There are gifts for your mom, sister-in-law, and best friend; for your husband, nephew, and the new baby; and for people in your community, like pastors, teachers, delivery drivers, and neighbors. It isn’t the amount of money spent or the number of gifts purchased that matters. Instead, it’s an opportunity to be intentional, sharing the gospel as we reflect God’s love by joyfully giving to one another.
Maybe it's crafting cute Thanksgiving turkeys with your kids, opening envelopes on your Advent calendar, or making pancakes for birthday mornings—all families have traditions. They range from the simple to the elaborate, the every-so-often to the every-year, the super meaningful to the silly.
Sometimes traditions bring us joy. They help us reorient our hearts toward what we value most, offer us pause in the midst of life's hustle and bustle, and provide consistent signposts to think of God's faithfulness. And sometimes, they're just plain fun.
Other times, traditions cause pressure and guilt. We’re upset when we abandon the Advent calendar, annoyed we forgot to pull out books on time, or frustrated there are now turkeys glued to our tables.
Thankfully, traditions don't earn our good standing before God, measure how well we "did" the holiday season, or guarantee our kids will love Jesus. Instead, traditions are another area the gospel gives us freedom to decide what's best (and most fruitful) for our families. We can light the weekly candle for Advent, or not. We can have an Easter party, or not. We can start a tradition, or stop one.
As long as we’re living by faith in the completed work of Christ, and striving to love others well, we each have freedom for how traditions play out in our own homes.
At R|M, we want to equip you to apply the gospel to every aspect of life by being “gospel thinkers.” Because the gospel changes everything—even our traditions.
So to help you kick off this holiday season with biblical understanding, @emschumacher is explaining how to take what scripture teaches about traditions and apply it to our lives. Think of it as a tool for filtering what traditions you might want to start (or stop) in your own home. Wondering what to do with Santa? How you should engage in Halloween? If the “tooth fairy” should visit? We hope this resource helps you consider how to engage in these (and many other) traditions.
We even added discussion questions so you can talk with your spouse, podcast club, or friends at the playground. (And it has a handy printable!)
As mothers, we can be tempted to find our righteousness in giving our children the picture-perfect childhood, filled with super-food meals and the best education possible. Somehow we falsely believe that if we can be the ideal Proverbs 31 wife and mother, we will earn favor with God.
Yet our hope is solely in what Christ has already done, what he accomplished for us on the cross.
Our righteousness will never come from being good enough. It comes from Christ, who granted us new life in himself and placed trust in our hearts—trust in the one atoning death that covers all our sin. Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Every day, each time we fail to keep God’s perfect commands, what glorious assurance we can have. For we know that our righteousness is not in anything that we do, but in Christ alone. When we fail, when we sin, amidst the remorse and regret, we can thank God for his commandments. For they reveal our imperfections and lead us to the cross, our only hope of ever being counted good enough."
As we consider all of the demands on our time during the Christmas season, it’s important for us to count the cost of decorating. When your two-year-old removes every ornament from the bottom third of the tree, your one-year-old is chewing on baby Jesus, and you’re sweeping up pine needles multiple times a week, you need a reminder of your reasoning!...
So, if you’re getting ready to bring that tub of Christmas paraphernalia out of storage (or maybe you’re a person who decorates right after Halloween!), take a minute and consider how you can be more intentional with it this year.
Not to add another burden, but to use what you’re already spending time on to point yourself and your whole family to Christ. Put up the printable with the verse from “O Holy Night” and sing it to your little ones. Talk about the wonderful gift of Christ’s coming when you set out the kid’s nativity set on the coffee table. Tell your children that Jesus is the light of this world when you wrap the tree with the tangled mess of string lights from three-years-ago.
It’s all a chance to spread the good news!
Like most mothers, I have high hopes for the weeks leading up to Christmas. In my mind, we calmly put up dozens of ornaments, read long passages of scripture as a family by candlelight, and marvel at the presents piling under the tree.
The main issue with this vision? I'm pretending that my very young children are as capable as 10-yr-olds. I'm ignoring and wishing away this season of life, hoping for the future days of good tidings and great joy, feeling a little resentful that today's Christmas season looks pretty different.