What Will You Bring to the Manger?

 

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Tomorrow we celebrate the arrival of the long-awaited One, the foretold Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with us.  What will the day be like at your house?

Over two thousand years ago when Jesus was born in an obscure little stable, those with eyes to see celebrated Him by bringing their adoration and worship and gifts, not because of what He had done but simply because He came as promised long before.  Each Christmas morning brings excitement, exuberance, and joy, not unlike the first Christmas morning when shepherds were wide-eyed with wonder at the angels’ announcement and overcome with joy at meeting the promised One lying in the manger.

How will you celebrate Christmas morning? Will you offer Jesus worship and gifts and adoration in remembrance of that first coming?

It’s not too late to decide to do something intentional to add meaning to what is often an explosion of wrapping paper and tissue, punctuated with screams or joy or even tears of disappointment. Have you had that in your house yet? If your kids are older than early elementary, you probably have. And for most families the climax of the day is over before the sun has risen very high in the sky.

Don’t let the sacredness of Christmas day pass you by. Here are three ways to bring meaning to the remembrance of this most stunning event in history.

  1. Begin the day with prayer. Offer thanks to Jesus Himself for coming as a baby to live and then die for us. Don’t worry if your kids are waiting to tear into the gifts. Thanking Jesus for the best gift is more important. Assure them that the gifts will still be there after a short time of prayer. Gather as a family. You can pray the prayer below or one of your own:

“Jesus, You chose to leave Your throne as King and your home of splendor to come to earth as a tiny embryo that grew inside Mary. Then at the perfect time You were born as a helpless infant. All for us. Every breath You took was for our rescue. Every word You spoke was right. Every action You took was in response to Your Father’s will. We simply cannot comprehend a life like Yours, one with no mistakes or no sin. Thank You for coming on Christmas Day to save us. Thank You for enduring our lack of gratitude over the years. Today we want to begin our celebration of Your birthday with this prayer of honor and thanksgiving. May You be pleased. Amen.”

  1. Read the Christmas story. You can find it in Luke 2:1-21 and Matthew 2:1-12. You may also choose to read a story from an Adorenaments book. Yes, reading will delay the gift opening a little longer but in a way, that’s an added beauty of it. After my childhood ache when the thrill of Christmas was over so quickly, my goal for my family was to make the significance and delight of the day endure. We always made our kids wait to begin opening presents until we got a fire going in the fireplace, fixed our coffee and hot chocolate, and took our annual photograph lining the stairs oldest to youngest. We also made the kids stay in their bedrooms until 7a.m. so that we parents, who had often stayed up late, could get an extra hour or so of sleep. Partly it was a selfish motivation, but it also taught our children delayed gratification and made the day last as long as possible.
  1. Offer gifts to Jesus first. Start the Christmas morning gift session by filling out First Gift cards. It’s simple.  All you need are index cards and pens, or if you want to make it fancy get out markers, stickers, and other craft supplies. Give everyone a card so that he or she can write a gift to Jesus. It is His birthday after all, right?

These gifts to the Christ child are different though. They must be from the heart, for there is nothing we could buy for Him. Talk about what would mean the most to Jesus. What does He desire from us? Little ones can color a picture for Him while older children and adults can write notes of gratitude or give gifts of surrendered hearts, action, and attitudes.

If presenting the gifts for Jesus around the tree is too much, consider finishing the gift giving with this activity. As you eat breakfast or brunch, encourage everyone to fill out a card. Have someone collect the cards and tie them with red ribbon to lay near the manger in your nativity scene. And moms, you will want collect the cards to save for next year. Read this year’s cards one day next December so that you can remember what each family member gave to Jesus. You might even discover some changed lives or changed behaviors as a result.

Even though we women are usually exhausted by today, I pray you will give some energy to making His Day meaningful to Him. Whatever details you choose, may your Christmas celebration tomorrow be about Jesus.

Merry Christmas and may you and yours be Ever His!

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