What are your favorite Christmas traditions? What makes them special for you? As we prepare for the holidays, may we keep the Reason for the Season front and center in our holiday traditions!
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35 – NIV
When it comes to Christmas, I freely admit that I am a tradition keeper. I adore the baking and decorating, the cards and gifts. It doesn’t seem like Christmas without these traditions.
Why do I spend so much time every year on these holiday preparations? Why do those traditions seem so essential? For me, I think it boils down to communication. My decorated home communicates a message of welcome and celebration. The Christmas cards tell my friends that I remember them, that I desire to keep in touch. The cookies and gifts communicate affection. When I share a bag of cookies with a friend or offer a wrapped gift to a family member, I am communicating a message of love. In my offering, I am showing the recipient that they are special to me.
Several years ago, I started a new tradition, one intended to communicate love and affection. Part of my extended family resides in Texas, including seven young cousins ranging in age from 20 to 11. Given the distance, I have not had the pleasure of seeing them often. I have missed so much of their growing up years. Yet, each one of these awesome kids are special to me.
I wondered how I could convey to these children that I loved them and was following the course of their lives from a distance. What could I do to create a family bond between us even though I could rarely be with them in person? That’s how the haystack tradition began.
At the beginning of December, I send each family a care package. It’s stocked full of haystacks, the tasty chocolate treat that holds rock star status in our family. It takes me days to make enough to fill up the boxes. The process is time consuming, and the ingredients expensive. But that’s an important part of the intended message, “Because you are special to me, I took the time to make these cookies especially for you.”
I knew my message had hit its mark after receiving a text from my cousin last year. He shared that his daughter met him at the back door with the exclamation, “Well, it’s officially Christmas! The haystacks are here!”
I sent a box, and she got the message, “You are loved!”
Long ago, on a dark, chilly night, God sent a special care package to convey a beautiful message. He sent us a priceless gift, a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. He proclaimed His message through the words of the angel and the brilliant light of a glowing star.
What was that special message? What did the Most High wish to communicate to us? It’s really quite simple. “You are loved!”
God sent a special gift in the hope that we would receive the message. He sent His precious Son to communicate His powerful message. “You are loved!”
As we make our preparations and celebrate our Advent traditions, let’s keep that message in the forefront of our hearts and minds. In the busyness of this season, let’s not lose sight of that message. Let’s savor it and share it. Let’s let the world know the timeless message of Christmas. “You are loved!”
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 – NIV
O Most High, we praise Your Holy Name for Your powerful gift of love. Though we fail and falter, though we wander and disappoint, You love us anyway. You love us with a love so perfect and so powerful that You sent Your Beloved Son to proclaim Your message of love and forgiveness. Lord, help us share Your beautiful message. Help us to love others as You have loved us.