Journal Prompts for the Christmas Season
Christmas can be a hard time.
We don’t like to admit this, but it is. We’ve all grown up with sentimental and romantic ideals of Christmases. The nostalgia of smiling families nestled by a crackling fire and glowing Christmas tree with a gentle snowfall outside the window is reminiscent of many Hallmark cards and movies.
The message of joy and peace can be found on sweaters and ads and décor. It seems that mirth is abundant for everyone, but we tend to forget that Christmas dredges up a lot of anxiety and sadness – everything from unresolved childhood wounds to missing those who have died to tenuous relationships with family members can suddenly make us want to avoid Christmas.
But Christmas, if it is truly kept, is celebrated deeply and profoundly in the heart.
This is where Jesus is born – in you, in me. Every day, if we allow Him to be. This is where the Christ-Child tenderly touches us with His innocence and helplessness. It’s as if He says, “I know. I am just like you.”
Here are five verses and journaling prompts that can help you meditate on the gift that is Jesus this Christmas. He doesn’t expect anything ostentatious of you. He just wants you to be yourself, to bring yourself and your misery to Him with honesty and humility. If you approach the manger with empty, but open, hands and heart, that is more than enough.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Emmanuel means “God is with us.” We don’t always feel God’s presence with us. We experience spiritual droughts without consolation or comfort. Maybe you are suffering a particular cross this Christmas season. Maybe it is an invisible one. Maybe it is very obvious to others. Your suffering is your closeness to Jesus.
Journaling: Am I seeking a sign from God for my healing? Do I need signs in order to have faith that God is with me? What are the ways I know in my heart that God is with me today?
“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
The names given to Jesus are powerful. Every word, when spoken, exudes a certain power. Words can harm, and words can heal. But The Word is Power Incarnate. He modeled for us the pathway to real power, which is humility. It is precisely by way of our nothingness that we grow into our personal call to holiness.
Journaling: How is Jesus my Counselor? Do I need Him to be mighty or tender this Christmas? Does He want to grant me peace? Do I find comfort in knowing He is everlasting? How?
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’" (Luke 2:14)
Giving glory to God is most difficult when we are depressed, lonely, isolated, or suffering. There is, in a sense, a certain collective restlessness in the world today, and those of us who are highly sensitive can feel it in our bodies. Peace seems elusive, impossible even. We may worship this Christmas season with a heavy heart. There are so many among us and around the world who are wounded and broken. How can we rejoice? We rejoice while we are hurting. We rejoice because God is good. We rejoice in the midst of our sorrow. This is how.
Journaling: What do you most need from God this Christmas? How can you give Him glory and praise when it is most difficult? What does it mean to give Jesus your homage, and how can you imitate the angels’ joy throughout this Christmastide?
“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
It is beautiful that we celebrate Christmas during the darkest time of year, shortly after the winter solstice when we have so little daylight. Many of us struggle with seasonal depression and long for the sun to warm our faces and our hearts. The flames of candles as we gather to worship the Baby Jesus can ignite a new sense of hope in us, too. We remember that Jesus is the Light – He remains so, despite the darkness we hear about on the news or see in our neighborhoods or experience within our own families. The Light has come, and the darkness will never, ever overcome it. That is our greatest hope.
Journaling: What does light signify for you? How does the metaphor “a light in the darkness” resonate with you this year, this Christmas season? In what ways can you be the light of Jesus to others?
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
The only Word that became flesh is God Himself. I forget that sometimes. It’s easy to do, since we live in a world that forgets Jesus altogether. I wonder how we can overlook the helplessness of a tiny infant lying in a manger with nothing to offer, except Himself. How can we neglect to approach the manger and kneel at the Word – once breathless, now Incarnate – Who has come for you, for me? To love, only to love? The simple gift of oneself is the gift of the Word breathed into human existence. Consider the life of your own breath and how you can speak words that reflect the love of Christ today.
Journaling: How can your words bring love to others this Christmas? How can you embody Jesus in the way you live – through a smile, a sincere compliment, a handwritten note, a visit to a lonely neighbor? What works of mercy can you do this Christmas season that will be a light to the world and give the glory to God?
This Christmas, slow down. Pause. Listen. Reflect on the poverty of Jesus and how you can empty yourself of all the excesses that weigh you down and distract you from sharing your gifts with the world – a world enveloped in darkness and in need of the light you carry by virtue of your baptism and the shared faith that, yes, Jesus has come for each of us, and He is the Light that shines in this dark time. Reflect His light.