As your family enters the Christmas season and journeys toward Christmas Day this year, resolve to adore Christ with the focus and anticipation of a locomotive powering toward its destination. Don’t get derailed by commercialism. Try these carol-themed activities to keep your family on track.
‘Silent Night’ listening
Step outside with your children after sundown. Listen to the night sounds and compare them to the sounds around the stable the night Jesus was born — sheep bleating, angels singing and a baby’s first cry. Contrast the homes and buildings within view with those outside Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Sing “Silent Night” together.
‘Away in a Manger’ visit
Arrange to serve in a soup kitchen or shelter this December, giving your children a glimpse of how it may have felt for Mary and Joseph to arrive in Bethlehem with no lodging, relying on the hospitality of an innkeeper. Contact N.C. Baptists on Mission to discover ways your family can serve those across the Carolinas who are still impacted by Hurricane Florence. Also consider, visiting a petting zoo, farm, or live nativity with your children to help them experience a stable setting and see a manger.
‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ signs
While on one of your many Christmas outings with your children, point out the large white directional arrows painted on the asphalt at road intersections. Discuss the similarity in shape between an arrow and an angel. Share that the arrow-like role of an angel in the Old and New Testaments was to point to something or someone important. At home, make simple arrow-shaped angels out of creased cardstock and stand these on your table or mantle.
‘Joy to the World!’ Christmas caroling
Invite a few friends from church to join your family in a Christmas caroling adventure. Visit the shut-ins who are members of your church or go to a local nursing home. Prepare a few songs and dress in festive Christmas attire. If possible, borrow your church van so you can all ride together and practice en route.
‘Deck the Halls’ wreaths
Save bough trimmings from your Christmas tree and make a wreath or swag for your front door, adding ribbons and ornaments. Tell how the Israelites used tree boughs for shelter and celebration during the annual Feast of Tabernacles, a joyous event commemorating God’s rescue from Egypt and likely in observance at the time Jesus was born. (Palm boughs were also used to celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.)
‘Star of Bethlehem’ star-gazing
Spread a blanket on the ground one clear night and lie down to look at the stars with your family or view them through a telescope. Tell about the star which appeared above the stable in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. For intriguing facts about this real phenomenon, visit bethlehemstar.com. Eat trail mix or roast hot dogs around a small campfire as you reflect on the long journey of the wise men to Bethlehem. Afterward, paint a picture of the stars using a “camel-hair” paint brush! Affirm God’s use of His created stars to tell His message.
‘We Three Kings’ checkers tournament
Challenge your kids to a checkers tournament, with the winner being the first to have three kings crowned in a game. Explain the biblical account of the Magi bringing three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) to the newborn king Jesus, avoiding the treacherous plot of the evil King Herod.
‘Go, Tell it on the Mountain’ train ride
Take your family on a Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train ride this Christmas. Create and share a Christmas card with other passengers or workers while there. After your trip, use a biblical map to trace a mountainous route Joseph and Mary may have taken from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Whatever activities you choose to do with your family this holiday season, be sure to include plenty of time at home. Let the peace of God settle on your home. Set a toy train engine on your kitchen table as a reminder to keep your thoughts, desires and schedule on track for a worshipful Christmas.