It’s true that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. No doubt! But it also must be said that Christmas tends to be the craziest, busiest, and most out-of-control time of the year, as well.
So with everything going on during this often-hectic time, how can we remember that it’s ultimately a season of peace and hope? And how can we help our students (and ourselves) connect with Jesus—the one Christmas is all about?
I want to offer three practical ideas that have proven to be helpful in my life, and perhaps will be helpful to you and your students.
1. Make it a point to observe Advent.
Observing Advent is a practice that has helped millions of Christians throughout the centuries keep their eyes fixed on Jesus during the holiday season.
The word Advent derives from the Latin word adventus, which simply means “coming.” Observing Advent is meant to be a practical, tangible reminder of both the first and second comings of Christ. This is typically done by lighting a candle on each of the four Sundays leading to Christmas. The four candles traditionally represent hope, faith, joy, and peace. Some people add a fifth candle, representing Jesus’s birth, to be lit on Christmas morning.
To make the candle-lighting even more meaningful, plan a sermon series on these four topics. You could also suggest or distribute an Advent devotional that students (and you) can do at home.
Observing Advent, when done with intentionality, can be a spiritually enriching opportunity to worship the LORD with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
2. Study the Christmas story, and journal what you find.
Whether by going through an Advent devotional, studying the Sunday morning sermon text, or simply doing your own independent study, the best way to stay connected with God is by digging into His written Word. During this season, encourage your students to spend time camped out in the Christmas story.
The Christmas story shows up in the Gospels in Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2, but you can also find Christmas passages in the Old Testament (especially Isaiah 9). To really enhance your understanding and deepen your appreciation for the miracle virgin birth, spend time each day prayerfully studying the Christmas passages in Scripture and taking the time to write down what you find—and encourage your students to do the same.
This simple exercise will help students rediscover and stay connected to the real Jesus, and not the Jesus as presented by Hollywood.
3. Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas giving.
We’ve all heard of the 12 days of Christmas and those crazy gifts that go with it (who even wants swans-a-swimming or maids-a-milking?!), but we know that the Lord Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (see Acts 20:35). So what if, rather than looking to receive gifts, you joined with Jesus to give random gifts this Christmas?
Explain to your students that you’re all going to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas giving by praying each day for 12 days, asking God to reveal to you whom He wants you to bless that day and how—perhaps with a $5 Starbucks gift card or a handwritten note or a text message of encouragement. Whatever God puts on your heart to do, simply do it! In the process, you’ll bless others and find yourself more closely connected with God this season. Then be sure that when you connect as a group, you all share stories that came out of the 12 days of Christmas giving.