Editor’s note: This devotion is the first in a series of four we will share on this site during December—one each Tuesday in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Each devotion was written to be used by families and children’s ministers in connection with CTA’s new Good News, Great Joy Family Activity Kit for 2013. All four devotions can be downloaded for free from our website and distributed to the families in your church. We pray this resource will draw many children closer to their Savior.
Familiarize yourself with today’s devotion. Mark your Bible at Luke 1:26-38 so you can find it quickly during your presentation.
Think about how to distribute the Good News, Great Joy foam puppets and the family devotions as the devotion ends. You will send the kits and devotions home with the children today. If your group is large, ask a volunteer to help.
(As you begin, hide the finger puppets nearby. Hold your Bible or have it nearby. Warmly greet the children and invite them to sit down near you.)
Think about a time you received good news. Maybe your dad picked you up after school and said, “Let’s go to the skate park.” Maybe your mom woke you up on Saturday morning and said, “It’s such a nice day. Let’s pack a picnic breakfast and go to (name a nearby amusement park or other attraction in your community).” Maybe you woke up to howling wind and blowing snow outside, and when you checked your school’s website—sure enough, it was a snow day! Good news for all the kids—and for many of the teachers, too!
Who can tell about a time they got good news? (Let one or two volunteers share briefly.)
Getting to the Heart
Christmas is a time when we hear of all kinds of good news. Good news about time off from school to rest and play. Good news about parties and fun with friends. Good news about presents and delicious food and time to be with our families.
But the best news of all at Christmastime is the good news the angel Gabriel brought to Mary nine months before the very first Christmas. Before Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, . . . before Mary settled down on a bed of straw, . . . before she wrapped Baby Jesus in soft strips of cloth and placed him in the manger, . . . before the shepherds and wise men came to worship Jesus, . . . before all the songs and Christmas trees and decorations and cookies we enjoy today, . . . before all that we associate with Christmas, the angel Gabriel came to Mary with good news.
Gabriel is one of God’s holy angels. He is strong and wise; he always obeys God perfectly. (We don’t always obey perfectly, do we?) Even so, God sent Gabriel from heaven to earth with an important message for us. What would you think if you saw an angel? (Let volunteers respond.)
No one on earth had ever heard a more important message than the message Gabriel brought to earth! The message was for Mary, and it was very good news.
Listen as I read about that from God’s Book, the Bible. See if you can figure out what this good news was. (Read Luke 2:26-38. If you teach younger children or if your time is limited, focus on verses 28-31, and 38.)
What good news did the angel Gabriel bring to Mary? (Let volunteers share.) Yes, Mary was going to be the mother of Baby Jesus—our Savior!
What did Mary say when she heard that good news? (Again, let volunteers answer. Ask leading questions to help the children realize that Mary fully submitted to God’s will. She gladly obeyed, calling herself the Lord’s “servant.” She was willing to be Baby Jesus’ mother.)
When a baby is born, most of the people who hear about it smile. Babies bring joy into families. But Baby Jesus brought a very special kind of joy, a unique or one-of-a-kind joy. Baby Jesus was born to be our Savior. Because of Baby Jesus, we can have peace with God. You see, Baby Jesus was born to die—to die on the cross for our sins. When Baby Jesus grew up, he did just that for us. Now, everyone who trusts in Jesus belongs to God’s family. God will love us, forgive us, and care for us always, for ever and ever. Amen!
I would like to teach you a cheer about the Good News, Great Joy we celebrate at Christmas. Listen, and when you think you know what to say, clap and speak along with me:
(Clap on each X below.)
Good news! XX Great joy! XX
For every girl XX and every boy XX,
Older kids XX and grownups too—XX
Come, see what God has done for you! (Point at all the children and smile.)
Taking It Home
Invite the children to pray with you, repeating each phrase after you say it.
Heavenly Father,/ thank you for the good news/ that you are our Savior./ Thank you for Gabriel and his message./ Thank you for Mary./ Thank you for Christmas/ and for all the many blessings/ you give us at Christmastime!/ Thank you especially for Baby Jesus!/Teach us to trust his love more and more./ Amen.
(Give each child a set of the Good News, Great Joy! Devotion Puppets to take home. Encourage them to use the puppets as they practice telling the Christmas story this week, especially Gabriel’s visit to Mary. Also encourage them to pray about friends who don’t know the Good News that Gabriel shared with Mary. How could they use the puppets to tell their friends about the first Christmas and about Jesus, our Savior?)
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