What other time of year can we walk into the mall and hear music that directs us to worship Christ the Lord? When else can we stroll through business offices and see strings of cards depicting nativity scenes? Let’s take advantage of the seasonal opportunities, keeping our focus on Christ and sharing the gospel in the process. Here are twelve suggestions:
1. Find a devotional guide or plan out a Bible reading schedule to carry you through Christmastime with daily meditations on Christ’s advent, incarnation, virgin birth, and Davidic lineage. (The DTS website offers a daily devotional.) If you haven’t already, memorize the Christmas story in Luke 2.
2. Pray. Make a list of the people in your life who need the Savior. Pray for them and ask God to give you opportunities to share with them.
3. Correspond. Include the gospel in annual Christmas letters. Choose cards with a message, or consider producing your own. Hand out tracts or give away “Jesus” videos when you go Christmas caroling. If you support a child through an organization such as World Vision or Compassion International, tuck in some Christmas-themed stickers with your greeting card.
4. Decorate. Let your Christmas tree serve as a reminder that Christ hung on a tree so that one day we might be invited to eat freely from the tree of life. Place your crèche in a central location, but leave the cradle empty until Christmas morning—when you make a grand celebration of the baby’s arrival.
5. Invite. Ask unchurched friends to join you in attending a Christmas production. Invite neighbors over for dinner and share about what Christmas means to you. Take a child shopping with you to buy toys for underprivileged kids.
6. Give wisely. For the people on your Christmas list, select gifts with eternity in view. Consider giving books, music, videos, subscriptions, tickets to special events, and art that will encourage each recipient in his or her relationship with Christ.
7. Give of yourself. USA Today reports that 30 percent of Americans spend $750 or more on Christmas presents; 19 percent say they’ll shell out over $500 for gifts; and 22 percent will buy $250 worth of stuff. A mere 8 percent expect Christmas spending to be less than $100. Instead of laying out so much cash consider meaningful gifts you can create. Make a gift certificate for three hours of free childcare for a neighbor. Write your life story—including your personal testimony—and give copies to your kids. Get your parents’ home movies transferred to video or disk, and give copies to the whole family. Give an old family recipe in a basket full of all the ingredients. Record yourself reading a favorite Bible story and send it to your grandkids. Make a homemade book about Josiah, the eight-year-old king, for your favorite eight-year-old.
8. Give food. Take a basket of Christmas dinner food to someone in need. If you have children, take them with you and talk about the One who said, “It’s better to give than to receive.”
9. Clear your shelf. If you have ten different versions of the Bible, send a few to the Bible League. They can send five Bibles overseas for the cost of printing one.
10. Clean your attic. If you have extra bedding, pillowcases, or coats, send them to the Gospel Mission nearest you. Rather than saving it all for later, put it to good use now.
11. Invest. If people ask what you want for Christmas, provide the name of your favorite charity and ask them to make a donation instead of buying you another pink lampshade.
12. Go. Spend time visiting shut-ins or teaching literacy. Build bridges so you can cross them to share Christ’s love. Don’t limit yourself to Christian charities—your work in a secular setting could provide you with opportunities to share with other volunteers who would never go to church. And before you hang your calendar for the new year, consider blocking out some days for a short-term missionary trip. Plan to spend time in a different culture—whether at home or abroad—leading VBS, teaching English, coaching sports, practicing medicine, or distributing food and clothing in the name of Christ. Lend your expertise for the furtherance of the gospel, and 2004 will be filled with the joy of the Lord!