How do we shine the light of Christ at Christmas? Tucked inside the familiar Bible story about the birth of Jesus are four key activities to help you celebrate Christ and share His light during Advent.

 Week 1: Welcome the Weary (Luke 2:1-7)

Poor Mary. Tired and pregnant, she arrived in Joseph’s hometown after a long journey to find no welcome. There were no hotels at the time of Christ’s birth. No Holiday Inn. No Motel 6. Instead, travelers knocked on doors until someone let them in. But because all the houses in Bethlehem were full, Mary and Joseph likely found shelter in a cave used for animals. And in that dark and dirty dwelling, Mary welcomed her first-born son: Jesus, whose name means “God is salvation.”

Today, many people are without adequate shelter. Often, like Mary and Joseph, they have no one to take them in. Like Jesus, many are children. To celebrate the first week of Advent, welcome someone who needs a home. Sponsor a child through an organization such as Compassion International. Send money to a group housing refugees or helping families recover from the California fires. Bake cookies or donate funds to a local homeless shelter. Or invite someone over who is all alone.

Week 2: Share the Good News (Luke 2:8-19)

After Christ’s birth, an angel appeared to lowly shepherds sitting on a dark Judean hillside, guarding their sheep. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel announced. “I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people.” Not just to the educated. Not just to the wealthy or powerful. But to these humble, unschooled shepherds and also to us.

The Promised One—the Messiah, the Savior—had been born. In their glee, the shepherds abandoned their sheep and raced to find the baby. Then they told everyone about what they had seen. Some news is too good to keep to yourself, like the good news of Jesus.

Like the shepherds, many people today are surrounded by darkness. For the second week of Advent, invite a friend to church. Or host a Christ-themed Christmas party. In your Christmas cards, share the good news.

Week 3: Seek Jesus (Luke 2:15-16)

Shopping! Parties! Hanging lights and decorating the tree! Christmas is full of activities, but if we’re not careful, it’s easy to forget that the holidays are also holy days. So follow the shepherds. After hearing the angel’s triumphant news, their first priority was to find Jesus.

During this third week of Advent, read Old Testament prophecies and discover where Jesus fulfilled them in the New Testament. Or pick up an Advent devotional, such as Laura Richie’s newly released The Advent Storybook: 25 Bible Stories Showing Why Jesus Came. Instead of seeking the perfect gift to put under the tree, seek the Perfect Gift who was born under a star.

Week 4: Prioritize Worship (Luke 2:20)

Amazed by all they had seen and heard, the shepherds’ response was to glorify and praise God. In fact, the narrative of Christ’s birth opens and closes with worship. The angels praised God too. So sing! Carol to your neighbors. Thank God for the gift of Jesus. But did you know that worship includes acts of service?

Worship isn’t just what you say but what you do. During the fourth week of Advent, show gratitude for the gift of Jesus by serving others. Instead of buying gifts for those who have plenty, bless those who don’t have the ability to repay you, and make this the best Christmas ever.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Christmas Cradle, the first book in her Lantern Hill Farm picture-book series, is available now. Connect at