Between CJ’s Junior Championships, Josua’s Horse camp (where he received a 4th place in show jumping), putting 3 500 Above Rubies magazines in 550 envelopes
and my early contractions,
we Heidi-Mari, managed to finished a few last minute Christmas decorations!
We don’t buy Christmas crackers, we make our own. For the children it is part of the anticipation of Christmas, without giving into the commercializing of Christmas. We especially use the crackers to reach out to friends and neighbours. Here Heidi-Mari gave step-by-step instructions on how she made them.
During the end of October we baked our Christmas fruit cakes. Over the past few weeks we matured them and this week we decorated them as ‘Thank you Gifts’ to the children’s horse riding- and ballet-teachers. Baking the fruit cakes at least 6 weeks before Christmas is another way to start anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth.
The children baked cookies under Heidi-Mari’s supervision. Here she gave our cookie recipe, with decorating instructions. We’ve experimented with a few cookie recipes to find the one Christo liked the most. Christo prefer a crispy, hard cookie.
We also made an Advent Mini book for the little ones, visually showing them the story of Christ’s birth. Years ago when CJ was 9years old, we bought an advent scene made of plaster of paris. We painted it ourselves.
It is our most significant Christmas decoration. Before we did the mini book, I used the advent scene to tell them the story of Christ's birth, with as many senses involved as possible.
It is normal that for small children, Christmas is very much all about the lights, decorations and gifts. They are still spiritual immature Beings. I cannot expect from David and Andrew to have the physical or even the emotional strength that CJ and Josua possess. But over time they need to grow stronger. It is Christo’s and my responsibility to give them the right food to grow into strong healthy young men, stretch them emotionally and discipline to grow into emotionally balanced adults. It is our responsibility to make sure that this time of year is understood by our children as an important message of God’s love and redemption and that, that is the focus of why we celebrate Christmas. Christmas is part of the world, it will not go away, so when our children are young men and women they will be able to discern what real Christmas is all about. They are not born with a natural wisdom about the true meaning of Jesus' birth and our celebration of it. Since they don't understand it from the start and parents often neglected their responsibility to teach them the meaning, by not putting the gifts and lights in the right perspective, it is irrational to throw out the baby with the bath water and say Christmas is all wrong.
The God I serve is a God of feasts! All over the Old Testament I read about God instilling feasts, with one of the main reasons for the celebration and feasts, for His people to be a reminder! Even the Passover and death of a lamb was associated with a feast, to remind His people of their victorious redeeming out of Egypt, the land of slavery. Why would God not ‘allow’ us to remember His son's birth, the most joyous (“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10) and significant event in the history of mankind, with a feast? I know all the arguments against the actual time of the year and associations with pagan feasts, but for our family it does not change the truth that Jesus become Son of man to redeem us from sin!
I’m saying this in no offence to Christian friends who do not celebrate Christmas. I always keep Rom 14:1-6 in mind in observing certain feasts as a Christian, while others does not observe it:
“14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. "
The actual question for me is:
What are we doing with the feast? Is our focus on the feast, the commercializing of it, or do we glorify God through the feast? We don’t need to be pulled into the commercializing; we are in the world, but not from the world.
We want to remind our children of Christ greatest sacrifice as in Phil. 2:5:
“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…”
We also want our children to reach out to the unsaved and make a difference on Christmas.
“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”
God gave us the greatest gift of all; we want to illustrate it with our gifts to friends and neighbours through Christmas. During Christmas time people are most open for the message of Christ.
In our neighbourhood we are the only Christians in our direct sphere of influence. Every neighbour next to us and opposite the street is in and from the world. When we moved into this neighbourhood, Christo was still the representative for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries in the Western Cape. On the back of our bus we had a clear banner with a telephone number of Walk Thru the Bible. Our neighbours didn't need to wonder if we were Christians or not. On top of it we had all these children, whom we home schooled and the wife was pregnant every year, confessing she wanted to fill the world with godly offspring. We certainly were food for thought!
One of our neighbours is a biker and constantly had LOUD biker parties into the early hours of the morning. One Saturday morning, as Christo left for work, our front lawn was scattered with empty beer bottles and even pieces of broken glass. I felt compelled to go to the neighbours and tell them how their quests made a mess and my children could get seriously injured in their own yard due to irresponsible people. The neighbours didn't take it well. They told me they will at least have 4 parties a year and that they were not able to control their quests. Since that day they didn't greet us whenever we were in front of our yards together.
By the end of that year we decided to make little Christmas boxes, put Lindt chocolate inside, John 3:16 on the one side of the box and our surname on another side. We made enough for at least 4 families. On Christmas Eve we put it in a basket, dressed up neatly and went to see who of our neighbours were at home. We first went to our biker neighbours. They were home and you could see the surprise on their faces as our whole family stood in their front door, wishing them a blessed Christmas. The father of the house immediately called his wife and they talked to the children for 15 minutes. Two other families were home too and appreciate the act of love so much. Since that Christmas we became friends with these neighbours.
They periodically blessed us and we blessed them. Our biker friends now don't have more than 2 parties a year and at one recent occasion even made the effort to worn us 24 hours before their party. They assured us they will keep the music down and the quests inside!
It is so special to reach out to the unsaved and the needy during Christmas-time. What a golden opportunity to be Christ to them. Christianity don't have a very good reputation in the world today. People would rather do business with a Moslem than with a Christian. Chances are better that you will receive good service from a Moslem than a Christian. Isn't Christmas the time of the year to show people who we truly are? People redeemed by Christ to make a difference! Glorifying God through the feast!
This year we’ve made extra Christmas crackers for our neighbours. We will put it in a basket and go to see who are at home, and show love to them.
To all my family and friends (in person and in cyberspace): May you all have a blessed Christ centred Christmas, making a difference right there where you are!
Lots of love
The Lues family