If we’re not careful, December 26 can be the “melancholiest” day of the year. All the excitement, buildup, and celebrating that leads to Christmas Day can make for a darn depressing denouement. We doubt that Jesus is a fan of post-Christmas letdown.
The solution: Keep remembering what Christmas is all about. We’re not fans of “You should…” or “You’ve gotta…” types of statements, but this a season where a little intentionality can be the difference between feeling empty or full on December 26. (And we’re not talking about turkey dressing.)
We’ve assembled four free devotions you can share with students, parents, volunteers, and so on. The topics are Be Still, Be Loud, Be Positive, and Be Present. The devotions are a handy way to maximize our connections with Jesus throughout this most festive season—and beyond. If you’re looking for a longer advent devotional, check out Leneita Fix’s FREE 25-day Christmas Advent Devotional for families with teenagers. It’s awesome!
Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10
Introverts might love this passage, but it’s equally relevant for extroverts in the crowd. The psalmist reminds readers that amid life’s troubles, Jesus is our refuge and strength. Craziness might be caused by calamities, relationships, hectic schedules, and more. But Jesus is present and speaking equally in times of peace and in times of insanity; sometimes we just need a reminder to slow down and see his face and hear his voice.
Here are our top-three things you can do to be still this season:
- Read the Bible. Yes, this seems super obvious. But it’s often one of the last things we think of doing. Any passage is great, but why not focus on the Christmas story? Our favorite Scripture to ponder during this season is Luke 2:1-20.
- Read children’s Christmas books. Many great titles are available, but we like Max Lucado’s The Crippled Lamb. Extra points if you interrupt something to present “storytime.” Invite people to gather around, and read a children’s Christmas book as if you were a preschool teacher. Be sure to show the pictures!
- Sit near your Christmas tree at home. Take time to breathe in and out, asking Jesus to fill you with his Spirit.
- Christmas music—Play your favorite version of “Silent Night,” reflecting on the peace Jesus offers.
- Family moment—Visit a family member who doesn’t get much company, and listen to his or her stories. If no one comes to mind, go as a family to a local senior facility.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Psalm 98:4, KJV
Jesus makes Christmas amazing! He actually became one of us and then sacrificed himself completely for us. That level of love and grace invites a response. We can respond to Jesus in many ways, but the writer of Psalm 98 urges us to shout and sing for joy to Jesus. Christmas music is great year-round, but it takes on a life of its own in December.
Here are our top-three things you can do to be loud this season:
- Go on a “light drive.” Cram a bunch of people into your car and drive around to look at Christmas lights. Roll down your windows, crank up the Christmas tunes, and sing along in your car.
- Go Christmas caroling with friends. Sing loudly for all to hear. If you go house to house, you need to learn only two or three songs. Extra points if you break out in song flash-mob-style and post a video on social media.
- Go all-out with Christmas gear. Break out the ugly Christmas sweater, funny Christmas shirt, battery-powered lights, and Santa hats. You’re expected to dress up for holiday parties; what if you also dress up for Thursdays?
- Christmas music—Listen to your favorite childhood Christmas songs, and sing along!
- Family moment—Rile up your younger siblings (or cousins, or neighbors, or strangers) and get them to sing loudly with you.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
When it came time to sing “Happy Birthday” at a party, can you imagine someone saying, “I’m not singing; I don’t like that song”? Christmas music is so great because it helps us celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Our culture has a bad habit of complaining about pretty much everything. Don’t fall into that trap–especially around Christmas. Be the positive voice that says positive things, brightening everyone’s day.
Here are our top-three things you can do to be positive this season:
- Say nice things. It’s unfortunate that we need this reminder, but we do. To quote the yuletide philosopher Buddy the Elf, “Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny muggins!”
- Give to charity. The Salvation Army is great (we like the bells). But many organizations are doing fantastic outreach, so join in their efforts. Extra points if you can get a bell-ringer to dance like these guys.
- Make someone feel special. It might be at school, at church, on your team, in your band, etc. If someone looks like they need grace, give it generously.
- Christmas music—Get the song “Joy to the World” stuck in your head and hum it all day.
- Family moment—Offer to help do all the Christmas stuff that needs to be done in your family. Bake cookies, clean the kitchen, shovel snow, rewind the VHS tape, whatever!
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:14 (The Message says, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”)
Jesus’ Incarnation (look it up!) is perhaps his most significant gift to us. He chose to become fully human and live among us in order to show his great love. In our culture, the gift of presence is a big deal. Tons of things distract us from people, so giving the gift of attention is like receiving a charger when your phone has 1% battery.
Here are our top-three things you can do to be present this season:
- Take regular breaks from electronics. For many people, phones are the biggest barrier to being fully present with others. Be on social media less so you can be social more.
- Be inquisitive. Ask people what’s going on in their lives, and listen carefully to their replies. Extra points if you ask at least two follow-up questions.
- Notice and celebrate the “good.” Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, pay attention and soak in the joyful moments you experience this season.
- Christmas music—Every time you hear “O Holy Night,” thank Jesus for his presence with you and commit to being more present with others.
- Family moment—Give your family your attention this season. Don’t check out when things start to drag a bit; instead, break out in a rousing rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” (Of course, Bruce Springsteen’s version is the best.)
Here are more post-Christmas ideas you can try before school starts again:
- Take time to reconnect with Jesus. (Have you seen The Simple Truth Bible?)
- Attend any youth group events that are planned—and invite some friends!
- Spend time with your family. Without your phone. With a smile.