02 November 2022
Keeping Jesus at the Centre of Christmas
My absolute love for the Christmas season began when I was a little girl and continues still. The music, lights, decorations, family traditions, gifts, and (most of all) the mystery of God made flesh make this one of the most wonderful times of my year.
As a child, the Christmas season felt just about perfect in every way, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my view of the season was somewhat idealized in the naivety of childhood. As wonderful as December is, the realities of living in a fallen world don’t just go away during this special month. On the contrary, they’re often highlighted. Busyness and stress creep in. The longer to–do lists are exhausting. Relationships are challenging. Grief is more raw than usual. Children still have meltdowns, and there is still laundry! I’ve come to realize that my hope and joy must run deeper than the season itself, or I’ll be let down every year.
The cliché “Jesus is the reason for the season” is almost as overused as it is true. But just because I know it’s true doesn’t mean I live as if it’s true. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s all too easy to make little room for Christ. If Jesus truly is the reason and hope for the season, then he must be central in my heart and home the whole month through. How do I make this my reality in the busiest month of the year when so many other things vie for my time and affections?
I have found that if Christ is not central in my life during the first eleven months of the year, he won’t be central in the last month either. The centrality of Christ in my own heart and in our family rhythms at Christmas is tied to my love for him and commitment to his Word every day of the year. It is also tied to my intentionality as I think and plan ahead for a Christ–focused Christmas season.
Tracing Glory: The Christmas Story Through the Bible is a twenty–five–day Advent Devotional I wrote for our family to use each December. It begins by looking back at the creation of the world in the book of Genesis and ends looking forward to the new creation in the book of Revelation, tracing the glory of Jesus Christ from start to finish. I wrote this devotional primarily for my boys because I want them to understand that the birth of Christ is the climax of a much larger story—a story about God’s mission to redeem sinful people for his glory.
This Advent Devotional was written with children, teens, and adults in mind. My goal was to communicate big truths in ways a child could grasp. I want to help readers see how every individual story in the Bible points either forward or backward to the hero of the big, overarching story.
In each day’s reading, there is a key Scripture given to look up as the basis for that day’s devotional. Next is my written commentary on the key Scripture. At the end of each day’s reading, I have summarized the key Scripture and commentary with one main point and a Christ connection, showing how that particular Bible passage points to Jesus Christ. I have also provided three questions that will help you and your children process what you have read and then engage in discussion about it. Finally, at the end of this resource, I have provided a “Dictionary of Big Bible Words,” where I’ve included a definition for some of the more difficult words and complex concepts throughout.
The story you will encounter in this Advent Devotional is both epic and true and it isn’t finished yet. We are living within this grand story now, awaiting the final chapter when we will see Christ face–to–face and dwell with him forever. My prayer is that, as we wait, God would use this resource to help us stand in awe of his matchless glory. As we encounter the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for us in Christ, may we move to worship him every day in December and the whole year through.
Sarah Rice is a mother of three and pastor’s wife living in North Alabama. She holds a Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and writes regularly at gospelshapedwomanhood.com. She counsels, teaches, and disciples women.