Sunday, December 20, 2015

Advent: Free or Inexpensive Ideas for the Season

Typing the title for this blog post made me cringe.

“Free or Inexpensive Ideas for the Season”? Really?

How about the most free and most free-ing idea of all: 

We can take time with God today—right now!—and tell Him that we are tired of living a life that throws up barriers to our relationship with Him.  Even though nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), we sure spend a lot of our time trying to get away from Him, trying to “manage” on our own, trying to convince ourselves that doing whatever we want is the real definition of “freedom.”  For a truly meaningful Advent “activity,” let’s just pray. 
Let’s bow our heads in the midst of rooms so full of clutter that it looks like a bomb has gone off (that’s not just my living room, I hope), and tell God that we are sorry for anything and everything that has gotten in the way of our relationship with Him. Let’s ask Him for the strength to turn away from our sins, for the courage to live our lives differently than we have been, and for the open-heartedness to make a place for God’s Spirit to live within us so we can have His power to live every new day. 

When John the Baptist fulfilled his role of preparing the way for the Lord, by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4), and when Jesus came after proclaiming: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15), they were giving us the great message of Advent: The Savior is coming.  Turn away from your sins. Receive forgiveness and salvation.  Live as God’s beloved child!

So that, my readers, is my very best suggestion for a free activity that gets to the heart of the Advent season.

Now, for some of the ideas that I had originally planned for a post with the title, Free or Inexpensive Ideas for the Season!

I was keeping a running list of ideas, which I, of course, misplaced right before sitting down to write this post.  Here are a few that have come back to mind; I hope you'll add some to the list, as well!
  • Watch classic Christmas movies, with messages that are uplifting if not necessarily religious, such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Enjoy a mug of hot chocolate or warm apple cider as a family.
  • Get out the family stash of box games, and enjoy a cozy evening at home. 
  • Drive around the neighborhood to see all of the Christmas lights and decorations.

  • Find a Living Nativity being held near your home.
  • Sing lots of Christmas carols, and help your children learn the words to the meaningful songs of the season.
  • Attend Christmas Eve services wherever you have traveled for the holiday. 
  • Have an old-fashioned Christmas crafting session, cutting paper snowflakes or crafting candy canes from colorful beads and chenille stems.

  • Bake a bunch of Christmas cookies, brownies, or candy.  Deliver them to one of your neighbors to spread some Christmas cheer.  (It’s okay to enjoy a few yourself, too!)
  • Go Christmas caroling around your neighborhood with friends.  Decide on a few familiar carols to sing, and try to ring the bells of some of the older generation, who seem to be especially appreciative of the smallest carolers among us!
  • Read from the Gospel of Luke perhaps the most familiar account of Jesus’ birth, found in chapter 2 verses 1 through 21.
  • Offer the gift of your presence with someone who could use a little company—an elderly relative in a nursing home, a homebound friend, or a church member spending the holidays in the hospital. 
  • Offer another kind of "gift of time": offer to babysit for a friend’s children so she can have a much-needed “date night” with her husband; offer to pet sit for a friend going out of town for the holidays; offer some special service you are able to provide, like a free haircut, massage, or manicure, if you have such a talent; offer to write down an aging person’s memories to create a priceless keepsake for his family.

  • Combine the benefits of de-cluttering your home with the blessing of giving to people in need by making a concerted effort to collect all of the items in your house that you are no longer using and are no longer bringing you any joy.  Then, redistribute them appropriately: to the Media Free Store, to a clothing cupboard, to a home for women and children escaping abusive households, to Goodwill.

What other ideas can you add to this list—free and inexpensive ways to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends in meaningful ways? We've got a few more days until Christmas, and several days after before the new year arrives...let’s put our heads together, and share.

No matter where you go and what you do, I wish you all a most blessed Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. All wonderful ideas. Being centered in what is important makes all the difference.


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