Ways to Make Christmas Sacred
Christmas can often become a consumer-driven, family function for most of us in America. We desire for it to be something more spiritual and sacred but it's hard to figure out what we should be doing differently.
We have provided the list below of ways to make Christmas sacred with detailed instructions and descriptions. There are ideas for individuals and families, kids and adults. You probably won't be able to do all of them but pick a few and begin to form new traditions that celebrate and worship Jesus Christ.
The Jesse Tree
The reason it is called the Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11…the shoot that will come up from the stump of Jesse…the Branch that will bear fruit and the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him. Jesse was David’s father, and ancestor of Jesus. Each day, from December 1-25, you read a portion of the Old Testament that leads towards the story of Jesus and place a decoration on the “Jesse Tree” that describes each story.
Use the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones to help with each reading and find ideas on how to make the decorations below. The great thing about the Jesse Tree is that it not only puts Christmas into the larger story of completing the Old Testament longing for a Savior, but also that it allows us to re-center each day on the deeper meaning of the season.
Read how one Calvary family describes The Jesse Tree, and see pictures of what the ornaments can look like at krufam.wordpress.com
4 Ideas for Putting Jesus before Gift Giving
- Read the Christmas narratives (Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 1:5-2:40) aloud in the family group and discuss why God sent His Son.
- Using the Bible story as a “script,” act out the scenes of the Christmas drama, complete with impromptu costumes and a baby doll in the “manger.”
- Use the figures from the Nativity scene to narrate the story for young and old. Sing a favorite Christmas carol to conclude.
- Read Scriptures that talk about the meaning of the incarnation and discuss what it means for us (John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:5-18)
Reduce your Christmas costs and give the extra away.
The average American spends about $750 on Christmas each year. Did you know that in many countries the average per capita income for an entire year is less than $750? Will you buy fewer and less expensive gifts? Spend less on decorations, food and travel? After you make your choice, give the money you save to a trusted ministry that serves the poor.
Celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas
This will show you and/or your family how Christianity is a completion of the Jewish faith. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in John 10:22. Jesus is the Light of the World and the model of a servant – these are themes displayed in the Messianic Jewish understanding of Hanukkah. Find descriptions of the Hanukkah story, how to light the candles and pray the prayers and even how to play the dreidel game at THIS DOWNLOADABLE PDF FILE
Pray for the Land of Jesus’ Birth
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” says Psalm 122. Sadly, that call to prayer is just as needed today as it was three thousand years ago when David issued it. The land where the Prince of Peace first appeared knows little peace today. So at Christmas season, every time you hear Israel mentioned in the news or in the Christmas story, pray for peace in the nation of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Pray especially that many more in the land will come to know the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem. Pray also for our missionaries in Israel – Moran and Melissa Rosenblit. Find out more about the Rosenblit’s ministry at hopeforisrael.com
Invite an unsaved friend to attend church with you.
Bring Christmas cheer to the poor in your community
Calvary has a list of 11 ways to serve those in need through our Reach:Local partnerships in the community and ideas on how to Let Go of your Kingdom this Christmas. You can also team up with your favorite non-profit in the community.
Build a Christmas Manger
Use a manger instead of a tree or to put next to your tree. This helps us remember that Christmas trees really have nothing to do with the incarnation of Christ. Details for how to build the manger and how to use the manger can be found at graphicdesignhero.com/blog
Make your Advent Calendars Meaningful
Don’t just eat chocolate and get more stuff during each day of December as you open up the Advent Calendar. Make sure there is a Scripture Reading or a prayer for each day.
Participate in Giving
Give an Angel Tree gift to children with parents in prison or giving a gift shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. Or participate in the “11 Ways You Can Reach Orange County This Christmas” list, available in the Worship Center Lobby or at
Do St. Nicholas Projects
Give gifts to people anonymously and in secret just like the real St. Nick did long ago. Use this as a teaching opportunity for your kids about the origins of Santa Claus and gift-giving or just to help you as an adult remember that giving without receiving is important too. Plus, it’s fun and you feel like a spy. Check out the kids book “The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving" by Dandi Daley Mackall.
Go “caroling” and “scripturing” door to door.
As a group, go caroling – singing Christmas songs in front of neighbor’s homes. Along with your short selection of songs at each doorstep, include a brief reading from the biblical Christmas story (Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 1:5-2:40). Practice and pray before you go. Use the free guides we have called “The Christmas Story: A Family Program for Christmas Eve” to help with this idea. They are available in the Worship Center lobby on Sunday mornings.
Put “prayer ornaments” on your Christmas tree.
Have a few ornaments on your tree to represent some huge needs around the world – both physical and spiritual. These can serve as reminders to pray for people to hear and respond to the gospel and for the poor to be cared for and loved.
Buy gift cards to give to people who ask for money
Gift cards to local restaurants/coffee shops/grocery stores - Take gift giving to a different level. You can even include a list of resource agencies, which the church can help provide for you.
Make greetings cards
for family members and friends using the imagery of the nativity rather than Santa and the Christmas tree.
Attend a traditional advent service
(evening or midweek) at a more liturgical church as a way to experience the season differently and spark your mind and heart to prayer. A couple potentially good churches for this are St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, Red Hill Lutheran Church in Tustin or St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Newport Beach.
Find Prayer Moments
Consider moments waiting in “checkout lines” while shopping to be prayer moments for the people around you. This will also help if you are struggling with impatience, greed, materialism or bitterness as you shop.
From Christmas to Easter
After Christmas, remove the branches from your Christmas tree and save the trunk....when it came close to Easter, 3 or 4 months later, saw the saved trunk into two pieces and fashion a cross, tying the two pieces together with rope or leather straps. This is a great visual to help your family connect Christmas with Easter. Jesus was born to die.
Share Your Ideas
Do you have other things you are already doing to make Christmas sacred in your home? Please take a moment to share any additional ideas here.
**Some ideas taken from An Action Plan for a Radical Christmas by David Platt, Christmas Under the Overpass Plan by Mike Yankoski and other ideas from Erin Krusiewicz, Matt Davis, Bea Wakeling, Tim McMahan and the Herring Family.