FORMATION : CHRISTMASTIDE 2023-2024
Formation in the image of Jesus for the good of others. This is the goal as we grow and serve at City Church.
Throughout the liturgical year, we have the opportunity to see this formation take place. As we live out the story of Jesus, we invite you to participate in a communal practice and a personal discipline for each season change. A communal practice is a habit that is done in the context of community while a personal discipline is a habit done on your own. We are constantly being [de]formed by the world around us. Step into these intentional rhythms that are designed to form us into the image of Jesus instead.
For Christmastide, personal discipline will be journaling and our communal practice will be feasting.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds. (ESV)
Much could be said about the practice of journaling. First, it is worth noting that there is no command in Scripture to journal. Journaling is merely a tool, a practice, that aids you in your journey to be formed in the image of Jesus for the good of others. For a Christian, your journal can be a place for you to document the ways God works in your life. You can include an account of daily events, a record of personal relationships, insights into Scripture, and/or prayer requests and answers to prayer. A journal is a great place to chart your progress in other spiritual disciplines and for holding yourself accountable to your goals.
Our encouragement to you during the 12 days of Christmastide is to try this practice in order to figure out if it would be a helpful tool in your own formation. Each day, from December 25 through January 5, we invite you to consider and write down at least one thing God has done for you. This could be something that happened that day, or it can be something from years ago, or anything in between. The idea is to use journaling as a means of remembering what God has done so that you may experience joy in him and develop a heart of gratitude. As human beings, we are prone to barely notice, or flat out forget, that the Lord is always present, acting in us and through us. We must be intentional to recognize, remember, and celebrate what God has done. The practice of journaling will not only help us remember in the moment, but when practiced regularly over the course of months and years, our journals will become a collection of God's love, care, and activity in our lives that we can refer back to again and again.
We intend for these practices to build on each other throughout the seasons. If you have begun a habit of spending time with the Lord each day, continue to build that habit of spending the first few minutes in solitude and silence. As you move into spending time in the Word and prayer, take a moment to try the practice of journaling to assist you in these other practices.
Christmastide is the shortest of all the seasons, but it could be the most fun! Feasting might sound like an odd thing to emphasize, but it may be harder to intentionally celebrate with brothers and sisters than you may think! Make it a priority to have at least one meal with another member and celebrate how God has been faithful to you. Feasting with your growth group is another obvious choice. Feel free to share your journal entries with others as a means of celebrating!
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES : CHRISTMASTIDE 2023-24
On the Incarnation - St. Athanasius’ 4th century work, On the Incarnation, offers a classic exploration of the coming of Christ in flesh. As you consider loving the Lord with all your mind this Christmastide, may this patrisitic theology also show you the profound beauty of God coming to dwell among us.
Christmas with Sacred Ordinary Days - playlist by sacredordinarydays | Spotify - Christmas is a time of great celebration as King Jesus, the hope of Israel and the nations, has arrived. For thousands of years across diverse cultures joyful hearts have overflowed into joyful singing to celebrate good news.
Write & Send a Note! - While journaling (above), take notice of any people that the Lord brings to your mind or you find yourself writing about. Then send them a short note, a prayer, or a text to let them know God reminded you of them in your reflections. It could be a simple "hello," a joyful celebration of what you did this year, or even an apology - all depending on the thoughts you receive while journaling. Put a stamp on it and drop it in the postbox!
12 Days of Christmas Devotion Plan - Christmastide is more than a day, yet our children so often are taught to only see the gifts of Christmas morning. This 12 day devotion uses ordinary things you may already have around the house to draw the whole family’s heart closer to Christ. Especially great for young children, these ideas can be a leaping off point. Make it special. Make it your own. Make it about Jesus.
Prayer & Practice Book - A City Church book of common prayer. With short daily liturgies, planner pages, and collections of breath prayers, blessings, and more, this is intended to be a daily resource to help us integrate the many pieces of our lives. Download PDF here or email us for a printed copy.
Daily Prayer App - The Daily Prayer app offers common prayers, confessions, and Scripture readings. Daily rhythms are nurtured each day by structuring these prayers around morning, midday, evening, and late evening guided readings.
The liturgical calendar follows the life of Christ and, in its cyclical rhythm, invites us to enter the movement of his life on a yearly basis. As we observe each season, we can observe Christ. We pray that as you allow the seasons of the church year and anchor your life to the life of Christ, you’ll discover that a fuller joy and vitality marks your days.
Lesslie Newbign writes, “the business of the Church is to tell and to embody a story, the story of God’s mighty acts in creation and redemption and of God’s promises concerning what will be in the end. The Church affirms the truth of this story by celebrating it, interpreting it, and enacting it in the life of the contemporary world.”
Each Sunday we see the arc of God’s story rehearsed and embodied (God is Holy, We are Broken, Jesus Saves Us, Jesus Sends Us)... but how do we “enact it in the contemporary world” of our homes, where we can create culture and habits that form us.
The church calendar, much like Sunday Service, moves us through a story. Specifically the story of Jesus with his incarnation in Advent all the way through the sending of the church in Pentecost.
ADVENT - the future hope of Christ
CHRISTMAS - the joyful birth of Christ
EPIPHANY - the perfect manifestation of Christ
LENT - the temptation and death of Christ
EASTER - the world-changing resurrection of Christ
PENTECOST - the renewing Spirit of Christ