Editor’s note: Today’s free devotion is the Ministry Message that accompanies CTA’s children’s Christmas theme: Come to Bethlehem and See. The gifts from this theme are perfect for the kids in your Sunday school or mid-week classes. Browse our website today and then use this devotion as your hand out the gifts.
Find or buy an invitation to a child’s birthday party and fill it out as though someone has sent the invitation to you. Or use an invitation to a Christmas party you have received.
Print enough copies of the “Come to Bethlehem and See” invitation so each child can have two. Make a few extras for guests. Put each invitation in an envelope. If you know exactly who is coming, print each child’s name on his or her envelope.
Place a manger with straw next to your chair. If you do not have access to a manger, use a baby carrier or a pack ’n play. Put the “Come to Bethlehem and See” gifts you plan to give the children in the manger/bed. Then add the invitations you have prepared. Cover everything with a baby blanket.
I love Christmas, don’t you? I especially like going to Christmas parties! Everyone dresses so nicely, the house is decorated with pretty lights, and usually, we get to eat a lot of great food, including delicious desserts!
(Show the party invitation you brought.) Who knows what this is? Yes, it’s an invitation to a Christmas party. It tells when to come. It tells what to bring. This invitation came in the mail.
Don’t you love it when an invitation comes in the mail? It’s really exciting to be invited to a party. But how do you feel if you know there’s a party and you didn’t get invited? (Allow the children to share their feelings)
Not being invited really hurts our feelings, doesn’t it? That’s happened to me before, too, and I felt very sad when I was left out.
Getting to the Heart
When Baby Jesus was born, God didn’t want anyone to be left out. He wanted everyone to know what he had done and how much he loves us. So he started sending invitations. He didn’t mail his invitations. Instead, on the very first Christmas night, God sent angels from heaven to earth. Those angels lit up the whole sky! They invited the shepherds. Here’s what they said. (Read Luke 2:10–12.) Then the angels started praising God! (Read Luke 2:14.)
When the angels went back to heaven, the sky grew dark again. Do you know what the shepherds said to each other about God’s invitation then? (Let a volunteer comment. Then read Luke 2:15.)
The shepherds believed God’s invitation. They went straight to Bethlehem. What did they see there? (Let a volunteer respond.) Right! They saw Baby Jesus!
Still today, God wants everyone to know that Christ the Savior is born. He doesn’t want anyone to be left out. So every year at Christmastime, God sends you and me to invite people to “Come to Bethlehem and See!”
What does God want people to come and see? He wants them to see how much he loves them. He wants them to see and believe that he sent Baby Jesus to be their Savior. All people, children and grown-ups, too, do things God tells us not to do. Our sins hurt us. They hurt other people. And they hurt our friendship with God. Jesus came to earth to die on the cross for our sins. He took the punishment for the things we do wrong. Now we can always be friends with God. We can always say, “Dear God, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” And he will! All because of Jesus.
That’s what makes Christmas so special. God didn’t just tell us he loved us. God showed us how much he loves us by sending Jesus, his only Son, to die for us.
If we look inside this manger, what do you think we’ll find? (Remove the blanket and let the children look.)
What do you think these are? They look like letters don’t they? (Open one up.) It’s an invitation! (Read it out loud.) God is inviting us to remember his love for us! It feels really good to hear God say, “I love you,” doesn’t it?
Taking It Home
It looks like there’s an invitation for each of you. (Hand each child an invitation.)
Look! We have lots of extra invitations. What should we do with them? (Pause for responses.) That’s a great idea! You could each take one to give to a friend! What will you say to your friend? (Let volunteers share.)
Look, there’s something else for each of you! (Distribute the “Come to Bethlehem and See” gifts you brought along.)
Before you go, let’s pray together: Dear God, thank you for inviting us every Christmas to come and see Baby Jesus. Thank you for reminding us all year long how much you love us! Help us think of someone who needs to come and see Baby Jesus, the Savior. Help us think of someone who needs to know that you love them. Help us give our invitation to that person. We love you, God! Amen.
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