How To Make Christmas the Best of Times

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To mildly mangle Charles Dickens, December is the best of times, and the worst of times.

The best, because in the depths of winter we remember the heights from which the Word came. We marvel at his journey from the heavenly throne room to the Bethlehem manger. We wonder at the truth that the fingers that molded the planets curled round a mother’s finger.

And as we share time, food, and gifts with loved ones, we appreciate all that we have been given in this life by the One who pitched his tent among us all those centuries ago.

It is, truly, the best of times.

AND YET…

Yet Christmas is also the worst of times. 

For every delight that Christmas brings, there is also disappointment. Too many families will have an empty chair at the table this Christmas. Too many people will be alone at their table this Christmas. While most cannot wait to get to Christmas, many simply cannot wait to get through Christmas. 

But the worst thing about Christmas is how the One at the center of the first Christmas gets pushed to the sidelines. The worst thing about the season is that, so often and so easily, Christ gets missed at Christmas. 

The world misses him out, of course—the miracle of the incarnation dismissed as a myth from an age long past. With typical prescience, C.S. Lewis foretold the transformation of the Christian festival of Christmas to the secular one of ‘Xmas’.

But it’s not just those ‘out there’ who leave Christ out. For one, how easy it is for children in Christian homes to leave him out, too. You don’t need to teach kids to focus on what they’ll get this year, rather than on what they have already been given, 2,000 years ago. They focus on themselves by their nature, and they are reinforced in that by our culture.

And then there’s each of us, too. I know I tend to reach January and think: But I never really focused on Christ this Christmas. December is just so busy, and before we know it Christmas is over and once more the message of the angels has been drowned out by the noise of Xmas.

Christmas can be the best of times, and it should be the best of times, but we need intentionality if we’re to make sure it is the best of times.

Intentional Proclamation

How to do that? It sounds so simple, but it is by proclaiming Christ: to ourselves, to our children, to our community.

The right question to ask in November, in order to make December the best it can be, is:

How will I intentionally proclaim Christ this Christmas?

If you have young children, one answer to that question is The Christmas Promise, which fuses biblical faithfulness with fantastic illustrations. I read it to my two-year-old son last year—and he still remembers that Jesus is ‘the new king, the forever king, the rescuing king’. 

And if you have friends and family and colleagues and neighbors who don’t know Jesus—which is all of us—here’s another answer to that question: a short, warm, humorous, and gospel-centered book that presents the gospel in a way that’s perfect for those who think they’ve heard it all before, as well as with those who know they haven’t. That’s A Very Different Christmas, written by internationally renowned evangelist Rico Tice along with Nate Morgan Locke. It proclaims Christ by inviting readers into the Trinity’s heavenly ‘living room’ to exchange presents with him. 

The best way to appreciate the Christmas gospel this year is to share it—to give it to others as well as to receive it yourself. Whatever else you do this December, don’t let Christmas pass without intentionally proclaiming Christ—to yourself, to your children, to your community.

Carl Laferton is Senior Editor at The Good Book Company. He is co-author, with Rico Tice, of Honest Evangelism, and is married to Lizzie with two children, Benjamin and Abigail. He loves pretty much everything about Christmas apart from the pressure of finding a good present for his wife.