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“Christmas is about…” typed into Google brings up the responses “family”, “family and friends” and “giving”. Jesus is not mentioned until number four. How would you finish that sentence? Although we all know that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, is this actually reflected in the way we talk about and celebrate the holiday, or do our actions suggest that the most important thing about Christmas really is just family, the traditions and festive cheer, or a vague concept of giving in general?

Over the next three weeks leading up to the big day, as the world tells us to focus on anything but, we want to give you some tips to ensure that you are celebrating and sharing the real meaning of Christmas as the time when God entered humanity as the man, Jesus. In later weeks, we will offer some ideas for sharing with acquaintances, workmates, neighbours and strangers, but today will begin with those people the media would have us believe the season is all about – our loved ones.

Christmas is the perfect occasion to talk about ‘spiritual matters’ with those closest to us because it is known to have Christian roots. By acknowledging the holiday at all, our family and friends are opening the door to have a conversation about the person of Jesus. A good way to engage in conversation is with questions about why our family and friends celebrate the holiday; these do not have to be confrontational: if instead we seek to understand where they are coming from we will have a better idea of how best to share the gospel and can respond by sharing why we celebrate Christmas. Having a quick but clear one-or-two sentence summary of the gospel prepared in your head is a good idea for such an occasion – something like “I celebrate Christmas because it reminds me of the great gift God gave me, by sending Jesus to fix my broken relationship with God, and to make me part of his family”.

If we are praying, and looking for opportunities to share our faith in this way, God will answer that prayer. Here are several other ways by which you can help your friends and family to understand the meaning of Christmas:

  1. You could invite them along to see the nativity display, or to the carols service next weekend – both resources that will be enjoyable and ‘in the festive spirit’, but where you can be confident that your loved ones will hear the gospel presented clearly.
  2. You could invite them to come to one of the Christmas services with you before (or after) a meal – whether on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. This again is a good way to ensure that they hear the gospel clearly explained, and offers some talking points for over lunch!
  3. You could give Christ-centred gifts – whether it be an actual Bible, or a relevant Christian book (there are lots of Christmas-y apologetic books like Lee Strobel’s ‘A Case for Christmas’ that make great stocking-stuffers), or even a movie or CD with a clear Christian message.

If, like the bumper sticker says, you want to put the ‘Christ’ back into ‘Christmas’, we encourage you to be thinking (and praying) about how we all can actively share our faith with our loved ones over the next few weeks.