Last weekend, my family and I traveled to the downtown section of a Minneapolis suburb for their annual tree lighting ceremony. It was “Small Business Saturday,” and the shops of the town’s main street had been bustling all day long. Holiday revelers enjoyed hot chocolate, a gingerbread house competition, s’mores created over the open flames of the bonfire, sleigh rides with Clydesdale horses and a march to the park in the center of town for the tree lighting. I felt like I had walked into a Norman Rockwell painting portraying life in Americana. It was glorious. But, it didn’t really have anything to do with the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is ultimately about Jesus. It’s a time for us to remember the greatest gift that was ever given to the world. So, how do we help our families celebrate the joy of the Christmas holiday without missing out on the message of Christmas? Here are five ways you can help your family embrace the true meaning of Christmas this year.
- Give a family gift. Every community has people who have serious needs. Involve MN is a non-profit organization in the Twin Cities that works with unsheltered and vulnerable people living on the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Wooddale Church is hosting a Boots and Coats Drive through December 4 to bless those who are experiencing homelessness in the Twin Cities. These boots and coats will be distributed through Involve MN. Why not take your kids shopping for adult Kamik or Sorel-style boots men’s sizes 9-13 and women’s sizes 6-10 to help those who are struggling? New and gently used adult winter coats are also needed. You can bring items to any Wooddale Church campus prior to December 4.
- Enjoy a beautiful Christmas concert. There are few concerts every year as beautiful as Christmas at Wooddale. Over 4,000 people have already registered for this annual concert featuring a variety of musical guests performing many of your favorite Christmas carols. A Christmas concert creates an opportunity for discussion about what the season is all about. With concerts on Saturday evening, December 10 and Sunday afternoon and evening December 11, you have time before or after to enjoy a family meal with robust discussion about why this time of the year is so special. You can register for Christmas at Wooddale here.
- Bring your kids to the Jingle Jam Celebration at Wooddale Church. Jingle Jam Celebration is a Christmas party just for kids through grade 4! Your kids will have an opportunity to get wrapped up in the REAL reason for the season through live high-energy music, mega games, fun light shows and an awesome story all about Jesus. This will take place at either 9 or 10:30 a.m., during Wooddale’s normal Sunday morning programming. No registration required, so feel free to bring someone even if it’s last minute.
- Attend a Christmas Eve service together as a family. Wooddale Church offers services at 10:30 a.m. (traditional), noon (traditional), 2 p.m. (modern), 3:30 p.m. (modern) and 5 p.m. (modern) at the Eden Prairie campus; 3:30, 5 and 10 p.m. (all modern) at the Edina campus, and 5 p.m. (modern) at the Loring Park campus. This annual service always features great music and a relevant message about Jesus, the real reason for this season. Several families attend one service and serve at another. It’s a great way to help kids recognize they have gifts they can share with the world. For more information visit wooddale.org.
- Create an Advent wreath and read an Advent devotional as a family. There are thousands of advent devotionals that have been written to help people reflect upon the gift of Jesus. Many families make an Advent wreath with four candles on the wreath and one larger candle in the center. They use the four Sundays leading up to Christmas to light the exterior candles in order to prepare their hearts for Christmas. The final candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
The first candle represents hope. It is knowns as the prophecy candle. It symbolizes the promise of a Messiah and reminds us of the wait the Israelites had for the Messiah to come. The second candle symbolizes faith. It is sometimes called the “Bethlehem Candle.” This candle helps us tell the story of Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem. Week three centers on the theme of joy. The candle is sometimes called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and reminds us of the joy Christ’s birth brought. The fourth candle is called the “Angel’s Candle.” It represents that Christ’s birth brought with it “peace on earth and good will toward men.” The final candle in the center is lit to remind us that Christ has come. What a beautiful way to begin your Christmas morning with a reminder that the greatest gift we will ever receive is Christ.
May 2022, be the best Christmas ever for your family! If you want more ideas to help your family embrace the true meaning of Christmas, don’t hesitate to reach out at (952) 944-6300. Ask for the Family Resource Initiative. We’d love to connect you with meaningful ways to celebrate with your family this year.