The hope and goal for believing parents in raising their children is to point them to the gospel of Jesus continually in hopes that God will save them. This can seem like an overwhelming task at times. Where do we start? What do we do? How do we point our children to Jesus in the everyday rhythm of life?
To help answer these questions, we ask parents to consider three areas of life as they think about family discipleship: time, moments and milestones.
TIME – Creating intentional time built into the rhythm of the family’s life for the purpose of thinking about, talking about and living out the gospel.
MOMENTS – Capturing and leveraging opportunities in the course of everyday life for the purpose of gospel-centered conversations.
MILESTONES – Marking and making occasions to celebrate and commemorate significant spiritual milestones of God’s work in the life of the family and child.
In an effort to help families focus on time, moments and milestones during the Advent season, we have given additional activities in each of these areas.
Activities to help you create intentional time:
Make a set of Christmas ornaments to remind you of the prophecies of Jesus’ birth and their fulfillments.
Spend time imagining what the “glory of the Lord” shining down on the shepherds was like. Draw what you think it looked like. Or turn off the lights and recreate it with flashlights, candles, props and loud singing.
Make a Christmas card for someone who does not love and trust Jesus. Wish them a merry Christmas and tell them that Jesus came to save sinners!
Consider a way your family can serve in the community during the Advent season. Here are a few ideas:
o Adopting an angel and shopping for them together.
o Visiting an elderly care center and singing carols for the residents.
o Serving a meal at a homeless assistance shelter.
o Taking dinner to someone you know who is lonely or in need.
Additional Activities for Families During the Advent Season
Create luminaries for your front yard, sidewalk or porch to remind your family of the star God put in the sky to tell the Magi of Jesus’ birth. Take paper lunch bags and draw or punch out a star on each bag. Fill the bottom of the bags with sand to keep them from blowing away. Place a battery-operated candle inside.
Play hide-and-seek and talk about how Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Thank God for sending Jesus.
Ideas for capturing teachable moments:
Give hints about Christmas gifts that your children will be receiving to build anticipation in their hearts. Remind them of the “hints” God gives us in Scripture of what Jesus’ birth and second coming will be like. There is no greater gift than loving and trusting Jesus!
Have a kid-friendly nativity set for your children to play with. As they play, retell the Christmas narrative.
As you’re out shopping, look for opportunities to remind your children that all material things are temporary and will ultimately never satisfy them. The only lasting hope is Jesus.
When you see Christmas lights, talk about which lights and houses are your favorites and why. We are attracted to lights because we are made for the light. Talk with your children about how these lights remind us of Jesus, the best and perfect Light of the World.
If carolers come to your house, remind your children of the angels who appeared to the shepherds proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ birth.
Ways to recognize and remember milestones:
Milestones are significant moments in the life of a family. Not every family will have a milestone to remember this Advent season. If your family does, take time to recognize the work that God is doing in your family and worship Him.
Celebrating a new family member – If another person joined your family this year, there is much to celebrate. Families grow through the birth or adoption of a child, marriage or taking in a person who needs love and support. Often, when a new person joins a family, they do not have many Christmas ornaments to add to the family tree. Make or purchase a special ornament for your new family member to recognize and remember God’s goodness to bring you together.
First Christmas without a family member – Celebrating can be hard when your family is grieving the loss of a loved one. Take time to help your child remember and talk about that special person if they need to. Help them to remember the good times and memories they have about that person. If your loved one was a believer, talk about the beautiful reality that they are now with Jesus. Hang an ornament or put out a special decoration that reminds your family of that person. Be honest with God about your sadness and ask Him to make your hearts joyful again.
Below are several albums and books that will bless your time of reflection, study and worship.
Behold the Lamb of God - ANDREW PETERSON
A beautiful, clever and creative telling of
the Advent narrative—from the shadows of Passover through the longing of Israel to the not-so-silent night when Jesus was born. For those who enjoy story told through song.
Christmas Songs, Headed Home, Comfort and Joy, Glad Tidings, All the Earth Rejoice - FOLK ANGEL
If you’re looking for joyful singing, new takes on Christmas classics and music to drink your coffee to, look no further. For those who enjoy folk with a hint of bluegrass and R&B.
Treasuring Christ in Our Traditions - NOEL PIPER
Addressing traditions beyond just the Advent season, this book provides great ideas for establishing family rhythms and rituals that honor Jesus.
The Advent Book - JACK AND KATHY STOCKMAN
This simple and beautifully illustrated book walks through Advent with a series of doors, one to open each day, revealing the story of Jesus’ coming.
Messiah - GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL
Composed in 1741, Handel’s Messiah tells the story of Christ, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy of salvation and ending with the resurrection. Part 1 recounts Jesus’ first coming. For those who enjoy classic music.
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas - EDITED BY NANCY GUTHRIE
A collection of short Advent reflections, this book would serve as an excellent resource for daily devotional reading during the month of December.
Songs for Christmas, Silver and Gold - SUFJAN STEVENS
Two unique collections of traditional Christmas favorites (with a twist) along with original tunes that will leave you feeling like you’ve just been to a Christmas circus. For those with an eclectic taste in music.
Additional Scriptures for Study and Reflection
Advent is about Christ and His two comings—the first in humiliation, the second in glory; the first in condescension, the second in exaltation; the first for forgiveness, the second for judgment. The passages below speak to the person and work of Jesus in His first coming and the promise of His second. May the Lord strengthen, encourage, awaken and restore us as we behold Him in His Word.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
JOHN 1:1-5, 14
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. REVELATION 22:17
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
REVELATION 22: 20
Prophecy and Fulfillment
Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of all that was spoken through the prophets about the Messiah. Below is a list of some of the Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus’ coming. They serve as a reminder of God’s perfect faithfulness to do all that He has promised.
The Son of God
The seed of woman
The seed of Abraham
The tribe of Judah
The seed of David
Born in Bethlehem
Born of a virgin
Children of Bethlehem slain
Being called out of Egypt
Being anointed with the Spirit
Being a Prophet likened to Moses
A Priest in the order of Melchizedek
Public entry into ministry
Ministry beginning in Galilee
Entering publicly into Jerusalem
A Shepherd for God’s people
Genesis 17:7; 22:18
Psalm 132:11; Isaiah 9:6
Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1
Matthew 3:17; Luke 1:32, 35
Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16
Luke 3:33; Revelation 5:5
Acts 13:23; Romans 1:3
Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6
Matthew 3:16; John 3:34
Acts 3:20-22; John 6:14
Luke 4:16-21, 43
Matthew 4:12-16, 23
Copyright The Village Church 2016. This guide has been modified by Central Baptist Church.