When our boys were little, my husband and I were excited to develop our own family Christmas traditions. We looked forward to creating memories for our little family. While we have many fun customs in our home, my absolute favorite is the one we started to teach our boys the true meaning of Christmas.
Every year on the first evening in December, we gather around the kitchen table. I set out special plates that are only used for this event, placing a Christmas treat on each one for us to enjoy. (This part of the tradition began to keep little boys busy eating a Christmas goodie long enough to sit still and listen. Now, it serves to get teenage boys excited to gather around the table--they never turn down sugar!)
Once we’re situated, we turn out all of the lights. Then, we light the Advent candles. After lighting the candles, we reflect on who Christ is by discussing a different name of Christ each evening and reading the correlating Scripture. When our boys were little, we would follow that by singing a favorite Christmas song. However, teenage boys aren’t terribly keen on the idea of singing together, so now our tradition includes an Advent devotion instead. After we finish discussing the devotion, we take turns praying, giving thanks to God for the birth of our Savior. Then, we add the correlating ornament to our special “Names of Christ” Christmas tree.
We do this each evening of December leading up to Christmas day. Then after breakfast on Christmas morning, we reflect on the last name on our list and read about Christ Jesus’ birth from the book of Luke.
The steps in our tradition aren’t complicated, but they each mean so much to me. In a season of busyness and excess, it’s lovely to pause and remember our Savior in this way.
One of my favorite parts of this tradition is when we turn out all of the lights and light the candles. I remember the look of awe on those little boys’ faces as we struck the match and lit the candle. Those little faces captured how I feel every time we light the Advent candles because something extraordinary happens when light pierces through the darkness. With the addition of each candle, the light grows, and the darkness fades.
Darkness seems to be all around us, doesn’t it? Hate continues to fester in the hearts of man, leading to social injustice, division, and even violence. Children are left without families to care for them. Human trafficking is at an all-time high worldwide--all evidence that we live in a fallen, sinful world.
Yet, as evidenced in our little family Advent tradition, darkness stands no chance against the light. Darkness may seem all-encompassing for a moment, perhaps, even a bit scary, but when we light a candle, darkness is powerless to stop the light.
The lighting of our Advent candles each year is a beautiful object lesson reminding us that Jesus came to overcome the darkness.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
Two-thousand years ago, in the darkness of night, a baby was born. Though He looked like any ordinary baby, He was like nothing the world had ever seen. And, though the world could not understand what that baby came to do, though the world would eventually reject Him, that baby was born for the world. He came to be the Light of the World, to bring hope and salvation.
Christ Jesus is Light.
Friends, that is what we celebrate at Christmas—Light that came to conquer darkness, the salvation that came to defeat condemnation!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be celebrating our Savior’s birth at Humble Faith Ministries by reflecting on 25 Names of Christ. Each day we’ll introduce a new name of Christ and the Scripture reference so you, too, can celebrate with us!
We hope you’ll join us by embracing this little tradition and making it your own. Candles, cookies, and the kitchen table are all optional. You can do this with family or friends or on your own before the Lord. No matter how you do it, we hope you’ll take a few minutes each day of this busy season to reflect on the true meaning of the Christmas holiday and rejoice with us over who Christ Jesus is!
What are your favorite Christmas traditions? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
The 25 Names of Christ Devotional will be posted daily at Humble Faith Ministries, along with on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Genesis 1:3-4 “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.”
Exodus 13:21 “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
This blog series was originally published at Joy in Faithful Living in 2020. They have graciously granted us full permission to re-publish the series here, but we would love for you to visit their site and support their ministry, as well! Check out their work at joyinfaithfulliving.com.