Many years ago I tried my hand at teaching a weekday class of 4-year-olds. I have never worked so hard in my life. The class was busy and fun-loving, but I discovered it takes lots of physical and mental energy to practice patience and, after only four hours, I was exhausted.
One of the highlights that year was telling the Christmas story during group time. Like most adults, I assumed that the children in my class had been told the Christmas story multiple times during their short lives and would know the central parts of the Luke 2 passage. I told the narrative in parts over a three-day week. To my surprise one child, sweet Michael, had never heard the biblical Christmas story.
On day one, the stage was set as Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. Day two was the birth story which ended with the promise of special guests to the manger. Michael was enthralled with the story and his look of anticipation and disappointment that he would have to wait until the next day to find out who was coming to the manger still blesses my soul.
My advice to you for a dose of Christmas wonder and joy is to find a child with whom to share the story of Christmas.
As adults who have heard the Christmas story many times through the years, we can lose the wonder and joy that it can bring. The weariness of the couple on their arrival at Bethlehem, the disappointment of spending the night in the stable out back of the inn, a young woman’s fear of giving birth for the first time far away from home, the joy of the safe arrival of a first born son, the angels’ song of praise and worship followed by the surprise visitation of the shepherds all convey a full range of emotions.
My advice to you for a dose of Christmas wonder and joy is to find a child with whom to share the story of Christmas. See and hear the events through fresh eyes and ears. Go with the children as they imagine all that happens in their minds and hearts. Chances are you, too, will be like the shepherds who hurried to Bethlehem and then shared their astonishing experience of hearing angels proclaim the birth of the Savior.
Another idea to celebrate the Christmas season with children is to honor Epiphany, the day celebrated for the arrival of the wise men to see the Christ child and the introduction of Jesus to the Gentile world. Three ideas for the January 6 celebration are: baking a King Cake, marking the door lintel with the magi’s blessing, and worshiping using candles to celebrate the arrival of the light of the world. To learn more about these ideas, click here.
Other stories that may get lost in the activity of Christmas are the presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the stories of Simeon and Anna. Imagine waiting your entire life for a gift to arrive and it is finally delivered. Join children as they experience the wonder and excitement of these wonderful Christmas stories.
As you share with children, read the Scripture first and then add story books, videos and music that reinforce the word of God. Dramatize and illustrate the story with simple costumes of robes and towels, window paint, chalk, modeling clay or water colors. Instead of Elf on the Shelf, consider having a magi or shepherd on the way to find the Christ child.
Whatever you do, do it all with the joy and wonder of a child. Your Christmas will be one of the best ever!
by Cheryl Markland / Children & Family Ministries Strategist / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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