At the beginning of Advent we committed ourselves to an intentional waiting. We planned to have a daily Advent devotion and actively preparing with great anticipation the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Half way through Advent, how’s it going? If you need a reset here are five more Merry Intentional Christmas ideas to put the holy back in your holiday.
To review, last week we committed to:
1. be intentionally present allowing our presence with others to bear witness to Christ’s incarnation.
2. Intentionally call to mind the in-breaking of the Light as we hang our lights.
3. Intentionally call to mind the tree on Calvary as we put up our tree.
4. Intentionally play with joy in the childlike fun of the season.
5. Intentionally recall the personal stories of the each of the people, animals and angels who witnessed the first Advent of Christ as we put our nativity scene.
Today, I offer five more intentional practices to reconnect the eternal with the everyday this Advent.
1. Intentionally consider the full arc of God’s redemptive history.
Luke 1:28 tells us that an angel appeared to Mary and said,
“Greetings, you are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
As part of that conversation, Mary learns God’s intention for her conceive and bear a son. The angel instructs,
“You are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”
This is not the first time we’ve heard from the angel Gabriel. 500 years earlier he appeared to Daniel and foretold the coming of the most Holy. We tend to think that Christmas is about us – Jesus came for us, Jesus died for us, Jesus rose for us, Jesus reigns in power for us, Jesus prays for us. But that’s only part of the Gospel – the great good news that spans the full ark of history is God’s faithfulness to His own character and plan.
So, Christmas is ultimately about God being faithful to Himself, faithful to what He has said and faithful to His plan for all creation. Christmas is about the fulfilling of the great expectations and God’s promise of redemption throughout human history. Jesus isn’t an idea that God hatches in what we call the first century BC. God’s redemptive plan – including sending His Son, the eternal second member of the Trinity, Jesus – to become incarnate, die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, rise to crush the head of the serpent, reign as King of kings and Lord of lords, the Savior of the World and the great High Priest, forever and ever. The entire Bible bears witness to Jesus. The Gospel is recorded in Genesis and Exodus,Job and Ruth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Psalms and every one of the 66 books that comprise the Old and New Testaments. The ark of history is redemptive and it is all moving to the Advent of the reign of Christ Jesus in the Kingdom of God. That is the great good news that brings peace to Men. Christ, and Christ alone. Let us be intentional this Christmas about having a right perspective on THIS Christmas as we hold Christmas itself in its appropriate place in God’s eternal redemptive plan.
2. As you open every Christmas card, intentionally break the seal on every envelope and call to mind the one who was sealed in the tomb didn’t remain there! Bursting forth in glorious resurrection makes the incarnation of that self-same God-Man not only Immanuel – God with us, but also Messiah, Lord of all. Jesus is the only one found worthy to break the seal and open the scrolls in Revelation 5.
3. Intentionally pray as you address and send your Christmas cards this year. Consider the changes in the lives of those with whom you’re corresponding. Write personal notes and be intentional about what you write. Intentionally pray for the new widows and widowers, for families who will hang a stocking for a child that was expected by was never born, for families who are fractured by divorce. Intentionally pray for those families who have prodigals living in the far off land and for families who have lost faith in the Christ who came to make them whole.
4. Intentionally listen and intentionally sing! I love the song O Holy Night. It transports me through time. How about you? What’s your favorite Christmas carol or hymn? How do the words and melody transport you to the night when the stars were brightly shining, the night of our dear Savior’s birth? “Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.” Indeed, we sing our theology, we also sing our prayers, use both intentionally this Christmas, in your private time of worship, with your family, in the old-fashioned but still relevant practice of caroling and with the gathered family of brothers and sisters at the local church.
5. Seek and find someone to bless today. Be intentional about seeing another person as God’s divine appointment set for you. The Magi, whom we call the Wise Men, sought out Jesus because a prisoner of war named Daniel bore faithful witness in the midst of Israel’s exile hundreds of years earlier in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. We literally have no idea the difference we’re making today in God’s grand scheme. We have little way of knowing precisely how God is using us in His eternal redemptive plan. But we can be confident that He is! Be intentional about allowing God to use you today to pray, bless and reveal His grace to those with whom your life intersects today.
Hopefully you’re humming along now in your Merry Intentional Christmas!
Find more Merry Intentional Christmas ideas here.