DAY 19: Family
Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9
Are you a holiday movie buff? If you are then you recognize that our favorite holiday movies capture both sides of the coin we call family. Some portray family holidays filled with warmth and love while others make us laugh with their spot-on portrayals of family dysfunction with a capital D. As Christmas rolls around we all hold out the hope that our family celebrations will be perfect this year — just like our favorite movie. But for many, real life doesn’t have a movie ending and our families come with every kind of dysfunction. Family celebrations can bring feelings of anxiety and pain into our holidays. But navigating our families well while we celebrate Christmas doesn’t have to be impossible. With some planning and spiritual reflection, we can find joy and hope even with less-than-perfect families. And a place to start as we begin the Christmas season is with the right focus and expectations.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:33
Christmas and everything that goes with it — the lights, gifts, parties and carols — is really not about us or our families. It’s about Jesus. He’s the baby in the manger. He’s the King of kings and the Lord of lords and it is His celebration. If we keep Him at the center of all that we do this season, we won’t make the mistake of making our families the source of our hope and joy this Christmas. Focus on Jesus this Christmas by reading the accounts of His birth in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 2:1-38. Reading a few verses every day until Christmas will help us keep our expectations for our family in check.
Next, if you haven’t finished your shopping yet, how about adding the gift of grace beside every family member’s name? It is the gift that really does fit everyone. The sister-in-law that brings her dog with her for a week-long stay needs grace. The grandmother that never arrives on time for the gift giving needs grace. A lavish dose of grace, undeserved favor, can save even the most disastrous family Christmas. And it reminds us of God’s great gift of grace in our lives as well!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. –Ephesians 2:8-9
And lastly, we should remember to pray for our families and for our celebrations!
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” -James 5:16
We all spend countless hours preparing for Christmas by shopping, wrapping, decorating. In order to celebrate well this Christmas with our families we need prayer at the top of all of our “To Do” lists. Consider making a list of all your family members and praying for one of them throughout the day this season. Add to your prayer time each family celebration or tradition. Is there a family shopping trip? Pray about it! Is there a dinner at your in-laws? Pray about it! Make your prayer “to do” list part of your Christmas routine and let God gift you with His answers this Christmas. It’s true that we don’t get to choose our families but at Christmas we can remember that Jesus chose us. So make your Christmas brighter this year by placing all your hope and expectations on the baby King, taking time to meditate on that glorious event while giving grace and praying for your family. Soli Deo gloria!
Looking for more Advent? Find all of the devotions HERE.