By Jacqueline J. Holness
Christmas is still the most wonderful time of the year—in spite of the fact that culturally it seems more and more Americans want to separate Christ from Christmas. To that end, I have created a Top Seven list of ways Christians can stake our claim on Christmas.
1. Insist on wishing everyone “Merry Christmas!” If you know you’re speaking to an atheist or someone who adheres to a religion outside of Christianity, make sure your words are “full of grace” and “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Even so, we cannot hide our “light under a bushel.”
2. Send snail mail Christmas cards. In this day of electronic communication, it seems more efficient to design a friendly e-card, attach a list of e-mail addresses, hit the send button, and move on to the next task. I don’t know about you, but because we have become so “e-connected,” I value receiving greeting cards the old-fashioned way.
When I was growing up, I loved how my mother put all the Christmas cards we received on a string and hung them in our living room. Seeing all the cards from family, friends, and associates gave me a sense of well-being.
I loved it when people included letters about how God had blessed them and brought them through the trials of the past year. Some included Christmas family photos that were just priceless. What a way to witness about the goodness of God!
3. Be nice. At this time of year malls and shopping centers are bombarded with shoppers attempting to find just the right gifts for loved ones. As I am a recovering procrastinator, I have found myself navigating the maze of strewn clothes, broken gadgets, and marked down goods on Christmas Eve, hoping to unearth some buried treasure more prudent shoppers have somehow missed.
It’s easy to be nice in church, but what about being nice in a line at the mall when 20 people are ahead of you? For all I know, the person ahead of me may be an angel, and God wants to see how I act when I think no one is watching. Remember Hebrews 13:2.
4. Give to organizations that intentionally lift up Christ at Christmas. One of the ways I know we have truly entered the Christmas season is the ringing of Salvation Army bells outside of grocery stores and other locations throughout the United States. God bless this organization and others for their Christmas ministries.
5. Give anonymously. I love giving gifts at Christmas time, even if I get stressed as Christmas shopping sometimes feels like a competitive sport. And when I present my beautifully wrapped gifts to my loved ones, I hope they feel my affection for them.
Still, I think sometimes we should give knowing the recipient does not know the identity of the giver. This way of giving puts the emphasis on God as the giver instead of individuals. I have practiced this way of giving in the past at Christmas time and have experienced the joy that comes from knowing “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
6. See people with spiritual eyes. (This is one my father’s wise sayings.) Christmas can be a very lonely time of the year for some people. Although we expect Christmas to be the most wonderful time of the year, for some people it highlights the fact that they aren’t where they expected to be: their family circumstances aren’t what they had hoped (or are nonexistent), or they have lost family members and friends. It’s easy to focus on our individual circle at Christmas time, but at this time of the year it is important that Christians shift the focus from our circle and consider those who may need encouragement in all types of forms—from a heartfelt conversation to an impromptu invitation to our homes.
7. Pray. I believe prayer is the most powerful tool Christians have in our earthly arsenals. At this time of the year when hearts are tender, what better gift can we give than praying intentionally that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven?
Jacqueline J. Holness, a member of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is a correspondent for Courthouse News Service,
an online, national news service for attorneys. Contact Jacqueline at afterthealtarcall.com.