The first time we decided to gather our little family for some Christmas readings from Scripture, it was an epic fail. Our son was six years old and loved every minute of it. Our three month old mercifully slept during the encounter, but with two year-old twins, you can only imagine the efforts to enforce listening and discussion. The preschool attention span resembles that of a gnat at times.
This particular plan was called the Jesse Tree with lessons for each day in December from the first to the 25th. It was a packet a friend from church shared with me. I thought it might work with our littles because it included the page numbers from a Beginners’ Bible we owned with pictures and simple stories. The guide gives instructions to gather or make ornaments to wrap up for each day. Many we made ourselves with construction paper or shrink dinks since we couldn’t find a fiery furnace or Ten Commandments ornament in any store!
Creation is the first lesson with other stories like Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and others following up to Christ’s birth. On that first night my husband read the creation story from the children’s Bible and showed the pictures. We opened the ornament which contained a globe and put it on the tree. All was going fairly well until the review questions. My husband started with one he thought would be pretty easy. “Who made the world?” One of the twins exclaimed, “I did it! I made the world!” She looked to us to compliment her but my husband said, “No, come on…. Who made the world?” This time much less confidently she stated in a questioning tone, “Mommy did it?”
If comprehension of truth and remembering what God had done was our goal, we had certainly missed the mark. We laugh about this story now but at the time we only felt frustrated. Over the years we continued to use this plan year after year to review Bible stories and incorporate Scripture reading into our Christmas ritual. While we have switched gears because of our frenetic schedules of teenagers and a college student, we still want to pursue taking time to gather and read Scripture together.
As you reflect on the coming holiday season, how can you incorporate a ritual of Scripture reading? Whether you gather as a family with children or teenagers, or just spend some quiet moments each day reading alone or with your spouse, having a plan with God’s Word is the kind of ritual that helps us reconnect with the message of Christmas. When we aim for nothing, we hit it every time.
The Jesse Tree is only one of many options. You’ll find many more ideas by asking your friends, searching on the internet, creating your own plan, or checking out some of the ideas I collected from others at the end of today’s reading. When we read God’s Word, it helps realign our thinking with God’s truth. As our thought life centers on God’s character, His love, the sacrifice of sending Jesus to earth, it affects our attitude. Humility, gratefulness, and contentment are all attitudes that are impacted by our thinking patterns over long periods of time.
Whether you get your family involved in gathering for some special reading each day, week, or even just on Christmas morning, be intentional in including the Bible as part of your Christmas ritual this year! Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a time or don’t finish everything you set out to do. Instead, celebrate the progress you make and the closeness with Jesus you experience as allow God’s Word to be alive and active in your life.
- What plans for reading Scripture have you used in the past during the holiday season?
- Consider what barriers keep you from daily reading God’s Word on your own or with others during the holidays.
- Is there a simple plan God is calling you to put into action to make reading God’s Word a priority in your family’s routine?
If you are looking for a ritual to use with your family, it is good to consider age levels and attention spans. While sometimes you may want to stick with a cherished family tradition, trying something new might reignite the energy to get into God’s Word. Many reading plans and devotional books are available for either daily or weekly times. Here is one idea for each that I have personally used and recommend:
Daily: The Jesse Tree: 25 daily reading including ornaments for each day. It starts with creation and hits many key stories that lead up to the birth of Christ. http://amzn.to/2gzEjUq
Weekly: Advent Wreath with Scripture readings. Light a candle for each week representing hope, peace, joy, and love. Then light the Christ candle in the center on Christmas day. Readings usually come with along with each set. Here is a link to a reading plan that accompanies the advent wreath and candles: http://amzn.to/2gzzdYE
Prayer: Lord, give me a hunger and thirst for your Word. Guide me in knowing how to implement a Christmas ritual of reading Scripture. Give me discernment whether I am to do this on my own or include other family members or friends. Direct me to right plan and help me to be disciplined in seeing it through. Show me where any soul junk food is causing me to be spiritually weak. Strengthen me by your powerful and holy Word.