Editor’s note: This devotion is the third in a series of four we have been sharing 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 2:8-14 so you can find it quickly during your presentation.
If some children have not yet received the Good News, Great Joy puppet kits and family devotions, have some available to give them.
(As you begin, have the Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and angel Gabriel foam puppets nearby. You will need the shepherd puppet, too, but keep it out of sight at first. Warmly greet the children and invite them to sit down near you.)
Have you been practicing with your puppets? Can you use them to tell the story of the very first Christmas? (Let volunteers share different ways they have been practicing a presentation of Jesus’ birth. Then hold up the puppets one by one.)
Who is this? Yes, it’s the angel Gabriel. How does he fit into the Christmas story? Yes, he brought Mary the good news that she would be the mother of Baby Jesus.
Who is this? Yes, this is Mary, Jesus’ mother. And this? Yes, this is Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. Together, Mary and Joseph protected Baby Jesus from harm. They cared for him when he was a baby and as he grew up, too.
Who is this? Yes, this is Baby Jesus. Jesus is God, and he became a human being for us. Why did Jesus come to earth? (Invite volunteers to respond.) Yes, Jesus came to be our Savior. He died on the cross to take away our sins.
Getting to the Heart
(Hold up the shepherd puppet.) This is a puppet we haven’t talked much about so far. Can anyone tell us who this is? (Let volunteers respond.) Yes, this puppet represents the shepherds.
Tell me what you know about the shepherds and how they fit into the Christmas story. (Invite each volunteer to share one fact. When everyone has had an opportunity to contribute, take additional comments from those who have already spoken.)
You already know many things. Let’s read about the shepherds from God’s Book, the Bible. Listen to see what new things you can learn. (Read Luke 2:8-14. Add as much drama and suspense as you can to communicate the wonder of God’s love.)
Here’s a secret not many people know. Back in the time Jesus was born, not everyone liked shepherds. In fact, shepherds were outcasts. For one thing, they were usually poor and didn’t have much schooling. People often accused them of stealing—and sometimes, this was true! Shepherds lived with their sheep, much of the time outside. This meant that their clothes weren’t very clean, and they didn’t always smell very nice. Few people wanted shepherds as friends.
But when God sent Baby Jesus into the world, the first people he told—after Mary and Joseph—were shepherds! By doing this, God showed that he loves all people alike.
- I hope that you have lots of friends. But even when you feel lonely and left out, God loves you!
- I hope that you obey all the Commandments and that you show Jesus’ love to everyone around you. But even when you disobey, even when you are crabby or mean to others, God keeps on loving you! Because of Jesus, God forgives every one of your sins. Every single one!
- I hope that you live in a warm, clean home and that you have nice clothes to wear. But even if you don’t, even if other people make fun of you because of it, Jesus still wants to be your very best friend.
Rich or poor, God loves you because of Jesus! Sick or well, God loves you because of Jesus! Popular or not, God loves you because of Jesus! And he will go right on loving you and forgiving you all your life long—just because of Jesus!
That’s the Good News that brings Great Joy at Christmastime and all year round, too!
We have been learning a cheer about that. If you remember it, join in right away. If not, listen and then join in when you know what to say:
(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
(After each line of the prayer, pause while the children repeat your words.)
Dear Jesus,/ we sometimes disobey you./ We sometimes hurt other people./ We see many good things to do,/ but often we don’t do them./ Please forgive us./ Thank you for being our friend/ every second,/ every minute,/ every day,/ no matter what./ Teach us to be good friends/ to others around us/ at Christmastime and always. Amen.
(If some children have not yet received a set of Good News, Great Joy! Puppets and copies of the family devotions, send these home today. As you do so, remind each child that God wants them to have Good News and Great Joy that Jesus brings.)
© 2013 CTA, Inc. Permission to make photocopies or reproduce by any other mechanical or electronic means is granted only to the original purchaser and is intended for use within a church or other Christian organization, but not for resale.