Reading-christmas

That’s What Christmas Means to Me…

Holidays //

That’s what Christmas means to me…

 

We have officially entered the Christmas season now that Thanksgiving is behind us! Media is filled with advertisements for all the latest and greatest and Christmas tunes fill the airways. We find ourselves singing, “That’s what Christmas means to me my love…Christmas means to me”.

 

What does Christmas mean to us?

 

It is hard to raise children to embrace the baby in the manger and NOT the consumer-driven Santa-wish list culture they are immersed in. What are some things we can do in and through our ministry contexts to help our kids prepare for Christmas? Anticipate the coming of Christ and to practice expectant waiting?

 

Advent is this season of expectation that connects our kids to the larger faith community, to other Christians around the world, and to Christians across the centuries! The four weeks of Advent help us as Christians to look back to the promises and prophecies made to God’s people as described in the Old Testament (such as in Isaiah), see how they were fulfilled in the New Testament (birth of Christ), and how they are being fulfilled and will be finally fulfilled today and in the future.

During Advent we recall the history of God’s people and reflect on how the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled. This gives us a background for the present. Today we can reflect on the past track record of God and so begin to understand what it means to us now for the sake of what is to come, in our own future and that of our world (catholic.org).

 

Below are some thoughts on how to encourage these connections as we help our kids answer the question: “What does Christmas mean to us?”

 

Connect to our larger faith community:

 

Advent offers a wonderful opportunity for the church’s children to come together with the larger worship context to embrace tradition, ritual, and community.

–       Children and their families can participate in lighting candles, reading Scripture, offering prayers or reading sayings.

–       Children as participants in the local context’s Advent rituals will help unite them to the other generations in the church, offering an opportunity for intergenerational sharing and worship.

–       Children as witnesses to corporate practices can learn the significance of Christmas, the promises of God fulfilled and revealed, and the hope of promises yet to be fulfilled.

–       Children can lead the broader community of faith in connecting to its past by initiating Advent practices that engage the entire congregation and carrying Advent conversations home.

 

 

 

Connect to Christians around the world:

As our children practice Advent, they are united to Christians around the world that are also observing Advent and preparing for the coming of Christ.

–       Help the children realize that Advent is not just something their local community of faith observes, but Christians around the world observe too and at the very same time! It is something we can all do together.

–       Introduce children to Christmas observances from various countries/cultures and discover how they are unique and how they are alike.

–       Identify ways the children can pray for people in other places in the world.

–       Help your children discover that although our language, foods, clothes, and perhaps even facial features may differ – God’s love and Christ’s birth unite us.

 

Connect to Christians across the centuries:

 

And as our children participate in Advent rituals, they are united with Christians across the centuries!

–       Help the children discover how long people have been observing Advent in some form! Hint…you need to go back to at least 380 AD!

–       What did Advent look like in the past – how was it practiced and what traditions or objects do we still use…like the Christmas wreath.

–       There is value in knowing that what we believe and how it is practiced are not fads or creations of contemporary culture but rather traditions that have been repeated by generations across the centuries.

 

 

What does Christmas mean to you?

Help your kids be reminded of God’s promises made, God’s promises fulfilled, and our hope because of God’s promises.

 

Help your kids connect to the larger local church community, to Christians around the world, and to Christians across the centuries – as together we anticipate Christ’s coming!

 

Children can lead – children can learn – and children can serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Colleen Derr serves as Professor of Christian Ministry and Congregational Formation at Wesley Seminary. She provides oversight to the M.Div. spiritual formation courses and the MA in Child, Youth and Family Ministry program. Prior to joining Wesley Seminary Dr. Derr has served as Director of Children’s Ministry for The Wesleyan Church and as Assistant Pastor of Fall Creek Wesleyan Church in Fishers, Indiana. She has been involved in local church Christian education for over 30 years. Colleen developed a children’s catechism program for The Wesleyan Church, Building Faith Kids, and a preteen discipleship tool, Explore. In addition, she developed a host of training materials for local church ministry leaders and has provided training and consultation for local churches across the country.