06 December 2012

Three ways into the Christmas story

If you are in the business of having to do a kids' Christmas talk this year maybe one of these might help...three of the ways I have told the Christmas story in Scripture this year. 
# 1...Jesus is the best gift of all.
For this rendition I put a nativity set into a gift box or gift bag.  Then it is a matter of telling the story and pulling the bits and pieces out of the bag as they come up in the story, starting with Mary being visited by the angel, and building up the scene as you go. 

When I do this I usually use this nativity scene - a very plastic (non-breakable) Veggie Tales set.  The kids at school, who aren't familiar with Veggie Tales, are very amused that all the characters are vegies and it is enough to hold even the big kids through the telling of a familiar story.

(I remember being aghast when my husband brought this set home, having purchased it for next to nothing from the markdown shelf at a certain Christian bookstore.  Ironically it is the nativity set that our boys played with the most when they were young and I use it all the time now as a teaching resource at this time time of the year.  So to my husband...apologies for that look of absolute horror when you walked in the door with this little purchase.)
At the end of the story you ask why the nativity scene was in a gift box and explain that God gave us the best gift of all in sending Jesus to earth a baby to die on a cross a man so that we might be forgiven for all our sins.  Jesus is the best gift of all.
# 2...The "So you think you know the Christmas story" super quiz
This is great for bigger kids who really think they know it all.  You ask the following six questions and get the children to write down their answers.
1.  When Mary first heard that she was going to be the mother of God's Son, she heard the news from an angel.  What was the angel's name? (Gabriel)
2.  When it came time for Jesus to be born Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem.  Why did they have to go there? (To take part in the census.)
3.  Was Jesus born in a manger or put in a manger after he was born? (Put in the manger...born in the stable.)
4.  After he was born Jesus had two lots of visitors - some shepherds and some wise men.  Who came first or did they come at the same time? (Shepherds first, wise men second.)
5.  How did the shepherds and the wise men know that Jesus had been born?  How did God announce the news? (Angels for the shepherds and the star for the wise men.)
6.  When the wise men visited they brought presents.  What were the presents?  And by the way, how many wise men were there? (Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And we don't know how many wise men.  The Bible just says "the wise men".  There were three gifts but there may not have been three wise men.)

You then provide the answers by telling the story, revealing the answers as you go, dispelling a few myths generated by carols and Christmas cards along the way.   (There is also the issue of the age of Jesus when he was visited by the wise men.  Head down that path if you want to take in the Herod story during your session because there is a bit of mythbusting to be done there too.)
#3...Christmas (and in fact the whole story of the Bible depending how far you want to take it) through the lense of the wise men's gifts.
Start by asking what sorts of presents babies and small children receive.  Then put the wise men in their context (ah, that would mean a quick retell of the story!!) and head on into your main discussion - about the highly unusual gifts Jesus received from the wise men. 
Gold is a precious metal - the metal of kings - pointing to the fact that Jesus is the King of kings.
Frankincense is the incense used by the high priest, pointing to Jesus as the great High Priest. 
Myrrh is embalming oil, used only for royalty, pointing to his important death. 
Through the themes of King, Priest and Jesus' death you can take the story as far, wide and deep as time and the age of your audience will allow. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 
Luke 2:10,11


Sharon said...

I love the carol "We three kings of orient are" for its verses explaining the significance of the gifts of the wise men:
"Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great ideas for Christmas, will use these at home in and the classroom with my students.
X Catriona