I’m one of those people who loves Christmas. The lights, music, decorating, special foods and family traditions are a welcome part of the season for me. As a young mom with young children, I looked for ways to make Christmas into a joyous celebration of our Savior’s birth. In my search I found a book edited by R.C. Sproul called, Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration. As I read, I learned the meanings behind the Advent celebration and the Advent wreath. It was filled with scripture readings, Christmas hymns, and activities for my growing family. I had loved Christmas before, but with this book, I began to love celebrating Advent as a part of our December family routine. The children delighted in lighting the candles and snuggling up as we read or sang together each night. It helped us emphasize the important parts of Christmas, and we slowed the less important ones. Each year I enjoyed looking for a new Advent devotional and a new Christmas picture book to add to our collection.
When I became a children’s director, I began to gather Christmas resources for our church parents. I wanted to help them with family devotions during December, and I wanted them to help their children celebrate Jesus’s birth. Once again, I searched for family Advent devotionals and Christmas picture books. I was thrilled to find so many more were available than when my children were little.
The result of the searching was a printed list of Christmas resources I could share with parents. I bought one copy of each resource, and early in November, I put them on a table at church decorated with Christmas colors. Parents were able to look through the resources, and it gave me a chance to answer questions and make recommendations. They took home a printed list and ordered for themselves. I also included instructions for making and using an Advent wreath. An outgrowth of this, which I didn’t expect, was how many grandparents wanted to know about the resources so that they could give them to their grandchildren.
Through the years, I’ve varied how I present the resources. Some years we promote one or two specific devotionals. We try to make Advent wreaths every three years. Last year we did an Advent Workshop on a Saturday. Parents signed up for a time to come and go through five stations with three other families. They each made an Advent wreath, an Advent countdown prayer chain, a premade cardboard nativity set, and a star Christmas cookie. They also received an Advent devotional.
You may want to consider putting an Advent Workshop in your budget as a gift to each family or you could have the parents pay for the supplies you decide to use. There are lots of resources for Advent that aren’t overly expensive. For example, The Jesus Storybook Bible author, Sally Lloyd Jones, has a FREE download of an Advent calendar which incorporates twenty-five stories in the JSB and a paper ornament craft to go with each one. This is something I have made available at our check-in kiosk for families. Our PCA developed resource, Good News, Great Joy by Beth Myers and B.A. Snider, is an inexpensive and well-written devotional we have also given to our families.
My list also includes Christmas picture books. Some families buy a new one for each child each year. The children enjoy these read-alouds throughout December. It doesn’t take long for their collections to grow and for favorites to develop. Humphrey’s First Christmas, by Carol Heyer, is still a favorite to read to my granddaughter, and the picture book I recommend to everyone is The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell.
Many of our young families have never had good examples or instruction in how to “worship in the living room.” Christmas is such a great time to partner with them in the discipleship of their children and to provide them with resources that make it fun and doable.
My Christmas resource list is being made available to you on our GROW site and on our Facebook page. Feel free to use it as it is helpful for you, and may God bless you and your church families this Advent season.
Visit the PCA Bookstore to puchase many of the books listed on the Christmas resource list.