Ok, our Christmas traditions are filled with symbolism… An evergreen tree represents eternal life, Covered with lights to represents His life as the light which shines in the darkness of the world. The star on the top of our tree represents the star that led the wisemen to that eternal life which was found in Jesus, which is why it sits above the tree like that star sat above the manger where Jesus was found. The wreaths we decorate with represent the eternity of God which has no beginning and no end, the candy cane like a shepherds staff, represents Jesus as the good shepherd. The red stripes to remind us of His blood shed for us and the white stripes to remind us that He wipes our sins away and makes us white as snow. The gifts we share with one another are to remind us of the gift of Jesus that was shared with us that wonderful day… and remind us of the gifts the wisemen shared to show the kingship, priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus. There are more of course, but as far as I know, there is no Biblical symbol to be found in the tradition of hanging stockings. (Perhaps there’s one that I’m not aware of. Do you know of one?) So I confess in past years when a family member spoke of some of our traditions as originating from pagan rituals, I began to wonder if this was an inappropriate pagan custom. And I asked the Lord if He wanted me to give it up. But the Lord is SOOO good! He showed me that the only thing that makes it pagan is if we did it to honor a pagan God. The Lord looks at the heart! He looks at the motive of our actions. It’s about WHY we place the evergreen tree in our living room and stockings by the fire. The reason WHY we do these things should be to honor the Lord. Hanging up stockings is no exception and this 4th idea is a way to honor the Lord through the tradition of stockings! We can honor Him with the gifts we place in those stockings.
One of the ideas I was given for a good Christ-centered stocking stuffer for the kids is to place specific candies in a plastic bag and attach the following story… “God sent His son to us. He came in the form of a baby (Baby Ruth). His name was Jesus. The angels told of the great joy (Almond Joy) He would bring to all people. The shepherds took their staffs (candy canes), and hurried to worship the One who is our good shepherd, who would lay down His life for His sheep. The wise men (3 Musketeers) followed the star (Starburst) to Bethlehem. They brought gold (kisses) because He is the king of kings, Frankincense because He is our High Priest, and Myrrh because He would die for our sins. Because God gave us the greatest gift, His Son, we can never forget the reason (Riesen) for the season. Thank you God for the gift of Jesus!”
Another way to honor Him with our stockings (and my personal favorite!) is to include Him! Right next to the family stockings, place a stocking for Jesus! Ask each family member to spend time throughout the Christmas season praying about what gift they will give to Jesus this year. But remember that it is not our good works that please Him most. The one gift we can give to truly please the Lord is a surrendered heart. One that is willing to follow Him, be used by Him, and most importantly to be cleansed by Him. The gift we choose to give Him should be an area of our life that needs His cleansing. We should choose to give Him that bitterness we’ve been hanging onto, the unforgiveness we’ve had toward a friend or family member perhaps, our impatient attitude toward our little ones, our quick judgement we’ve had toward our neighbor, our attachment to a habit that doesn’t please Him, our unwillingness to obey Him in an area we know He has been calling us to obey, the list can go on and on. You know what you’ve been hanging onto, unwilling to surrender to Him. Write it down. And choose to give it to Him! Have each family member write down their “gift” and place the slip of paper in Jesus’ stocking. This can be done anonymously if that is what your family prefers, or on Christmas morning you can gather together to open Jesus stocking together and take the time to pray together… lifting up each of these gifts to the Lord, asking for His Holy Spirit to work in each of your lives enabling you to let go of these things.
I pray that as Christmas is fast approaching… each of you will be reminded that our Christmas traditions can be just another activity to fill our “to do” lists, or they can be an opportunity to honor our Lord and draw closer to Him. And I pray you will choose the latter! God bless you!
Check back for more great ideas throughout the month (OK, next year.) to help Keep Christ in Christmas!! (Just like probably most of you… I ran out of time and didn’t get to finish sharing all of my ideas. But now I have something to share with you all next Christmas! Hope you had a blessed celebration!)