The Spirit of Christmas

The true spirit of Christmas is expressed through a love that's straight from God. It knows no bounds, it has no boundaries, and it keeps on giving. Try a different kind of countdown to Christmas this year!

By Amy Sparkman

Categories: Christmas

One of the fun family activities leading up to Christmas is the traditional countdown to Christmas Day on a nativity calendar. When I was a young child, these calendars featured simple pictures behind numbered windows or doors. Each morning's pre-breakfast fun was finding the correct number amidst the shades of color and glitter and the shapes of Bible characters and animals pictured on the calendar. In recent years, these calendars have depicted more secular scenes of Christmastime, and now they often include tiny trinkets and candies behind each window and door. In fact, the true spirit of Christmas is often overlooked in the scramble to find the toy or the treat.

When gearing up for the holidays starts as early as mid-September through advertisements and countdowns and decorations for sale, it can be quite a challenge to stay focused on the real reason for celebrating Christmas – on the prophecies that led to and the events that surrounded the birth of Jesus. Yet, despite the incessant push of commercialism to make Christmas all about giving and receiving gifts from a wish list, it's the spirit of Christmas that touches the heart year after year:

  • The gift of unexpected love
  • The gift of selfless love
  • The gift of unconditional love
  • The gift of uninterrupted love

In each case, the kind of love expressed is straight from God – it is divine, unearthly. It knows no bounds and it has no boundaries. And it keeps on giving. Isn't this the love that God expressed for us in the virgin birth of Jesus? Isn't this the message of love that Jesus expresses through his parables and teachings? Isn't this the meaning of the familiar Bible verses from I John (4:9, 11, 12 (If))?

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another….If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us."

Let's take this opportunity to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas this year – to look beyond the gift buying, giving, receiving (and returning!). One way to begin might be to trace the story of Jesus' birth through the different pages of this website as well as digging into the archived articles on Christmas. And a fun project for the whole family might be to create a special nativity calendar – one that has particular meaning to all of you. You don't have to create a page with windows and doors to open. Instead, you could use a standard block calendar design. But be thoughtful about what you "hide" in each square – what gift of spiritual uplift will you offer each day? Can you imagine how many different calendars you could create? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A fact-a-day about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus
    • angels bring good news
    • no room at the inn
    • the star that illuminated the way to Jesus' manger
    • the shepherds watching
    • the angels singing
    • the wisemen and their gifts
    • Herod's decree
  • A fact-a-day about the events leading to the birth of Jesus
    • the prophecies in the Old Testament
    • the genealogy of Jesus' family
    • the story of Zacharias
    • the angel speaking to Mary
    • Mary meeting with Elizabeth
    • the angel speaking to Joseph
  • A quality-a-day that you persist in seeing in the world
    • integrity
    • joy
    • peace
    • love
    • intelligence
  • A quality-a-day that you will express and expect of others
    • honesty
    • loyalty
    • forgiveness
    • kindness
    • goodness
  • A thought-a-day that inspires you to see things in a new light
    • find new Bible verses that deepen your understanding
    • include inspired writings of others
  • An idea-a-day for acts of kindness
    • smile when you least think you can or want to
    • run an errand for someone who needs help
    • offer to babysit
    • prepare dinner one night a week
    • clean up your room before you are asked
    • put a load of laundry in and fold it when it's dry
  • A gift-a-day that touches the heart but costs no money
    • a warm greeting
    • a genuine smile
    • an offer of help
    • a sincere thank you o a hug

These are ideas to get you started on your Christmas countdown – on your own discovery of what Christmas and gift giving really mean.