The Twelve Ways of Christmas (part 2)
In part one of this essay, I outlined six ways we can celebrate and observe the incarnate Christ at Christmas. Here are the other six . . . don’t sing them all at once!
The Seventh Way of Christmas: Be Joyous
Joy is mentioned through the biblical narrative surrounding the birth of Jesus. Mary rejoices when she receives word that she will give birth to the Christ. Elizabeth rejoices when Mary visits. The magi are joyous when they see the star. The shepherds are joyous when they see the child. And the angel announces, “Tidings of great joy.” We are not called to be a pessimistic, dried-up, negative, or despairing people. We are called to a joyous life, because God has shared the greatest joy with us. How important it is for us to find a spirit of joy every day.
The Eighth Way of Christmas: Make Room
There was no room for the Christ child at the inn . . . but the implications are many. We need to make room for Christ, for God’s work, for the advent of God’s love. In order to make room for Christ, we may need to clear out some of our closets, shed some of our baggage, or even rid ourselves of those sins and failures that clutter our hearts and minds. By sweeping our hearts clear, we can make room for God. Make a commitment to find a new space for God in your life, your youth ministry, and in your time this year.
The Ninth Way of Christmas: Make Peace
How often the word “peace” or, in Hebrew, “Shalom,” is present in the days leading up to Christ’s birth. The angel Gabriel greets Mary with “Shalom!” And the heavenly host of angels sing about “peace on earth.” We are called to be a peace-building people, a Shalom people. That peace must begin with us, in our hearts, and then it can pervade other aspects of our lives as we seek to live in peace with others. God desires peace for the world, and this year we can make strides to give our ministries peace-building dimensions.
The Tenth Way of Christmas: Tell Others
As soon as the shepherds see the Christ child in the manger, they want to tell others the wonderful news. Our commission has not changed since Jesus told the disciples, “Go into all the world and share the good news . . . .” We can tell others the good news by our witness in word and deed. Surprisingly, when others hear the good news of Christ shared in an authentic way, they often want to follow Jesus, too. Perhaps this year is when we can make the tenth way of Christmas come alive. We can all give witness to our faith in various ways.
The Eleventh Way of Christmas: Give Thanks
People are thankful during the Christmas season. But they often thankful for material blessings and things that will pass away. But true thankfulness comes when we realize that God has redeemed us and that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. A youth ministry that is giving thanks for God’s wondrous gifts is a youth ministry that is blessing others. Thanksgiving is something that overflows and recreates our own hearts, and those who are around us.
The Twelfth Way of Christmas: Give Gifts
The magi brought their gifts to Christ—the best they had to give. And when we bring our best to Christ, we are mindful that we all have something to give. We have a need to give of our time, our talent, and our treasure. Through our gifts, God’s work is accomplished in ways that we could not otherwise accomplish on our own. Christ is God’s gift. And we keep Christmas year-round by giving gifts back to God.