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Christmas 2017 Advent Guide for Families

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Hello and Merry Christmas!

I am just thrilled that you would use the contents of this booklet to put Christ at the center of your home this Christmas season.

Enclosed are 4 activities that will make your Advent season meaningful and memorable! I hope they even become a family tradition in your home!

Advent Week 1: Christmas Gift for Jesus

Advent Week 2: Traveling Nativity (you get to enjoy this one until it culminates on Christmas morning!)

Advent Week 3: Away in a Manger

Advent Week 4 *Christmas Eve*: Singing Angels

Christmas Day: Finish Traveling Nativity

You will want to prepare for doing the activity a few days ahead of time. Read through the lesson. Gather the supplies. Ask God to make your Family Time glorifying to Him.

The BEST gift we can give our children is a knowledge of who God is and the amazing grace we’ve been shown through the life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

May this Christmas season be one saturated with this Good News, and woven with family moments together in God’s Word!

May the Peace of the Season Fill Your Home,

Jenna

Jenna Hallock

Executive Director Family Time Training

Week One Activity: 

Christmas Gift for Jesus

Teaching Goal: Give Jesus a gift on His birthday.


Scripture: Luke 2 (Story of Jesus’ birth.)


Matthew 25:34-40 Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you
who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for
you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me
something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a
stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick
and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the
righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or
thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and
invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or
in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”


Materials: Access to internet video links:
Advent Conspiracy/Living Water (www.water.cc )
Operation Christmas Child (www.samaritanspurse.org)
Children’s Hope Chest (www.hopechest.org)
Angel Tree (www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree)


In Advance: Watch the videos. Pick one, two, or more to show during the activity. Feel free
to add links from other ministries you support.

Words written in bold are when the leader is speaking. Feel free to use your own words.


A. Christmas is the season of giving. But what do we give? How much do we spend? Are we
making a difference in the world for Christ with what we buy?


Can you name three things you received for Christmas last year? Listen to answers. Do you
remember what was on your “wish list” before Christmas last year?
Listen to answers. If
you do remember, where are those things now?
Listen to answers. We get so excited about
receiving just the right gift for Christmas. How long does that excitement last?
Listen to
answers.


Why do we give gifts at Christmas time? Listen to answers. To remember Jesus’ birthday.
Because the wise men brought gifts for Jesus. To show that we love one another. Do the gifts
we give and receive truly honor God and do they have anything directly to do with making
a gift to Jesus on his birthday?
Most likely “no.” Did we give a gift to Jesus last year on His
birthday?
Listen to answers.



B. ACTIVITY #1: Read Matthew 25: 34-40. In addition to giving to family and friends,
what can we give this year that will focus on God and the birthday of Jesus?
Listen to
answers. Let’s watch a few videos and choose a mission that we can support as a family.
Show the preselected videos. Discuss how they connect directly to the passage in Matthew 25.
The thirsty. Those needing clothes. Families of prisoners.


C. ACTIVITY #2: Is there a way for every family member to earn money to help buy the gift?
Extra chores? Or, can the family shop together for the gift? If possible, assign or start the extra
chores at the end of Family Time or go shopping for the gift.


What might you do now so that you can remember next year that you made this gift to Jesus?


V. Memorize:


To others give,
So they can live.


VI. Close in Prayer

Week Two Activity: 

Traveling Nativity


Teaching Goal: Teach the story of Jesus’ birth. 


Scriptures:  Luke 2 and Matthew 2 

Materials:  Option 1: Pre-made unbreakable nativity set

Option 2: Make your own set and characters:


10 Styrofoam cones

10 Styrofoam balls

1 Styrofoam egg shape

Water color, washable paint

Toothpicks

Glue

Pipe cleaners

Box

Construction paper and markers

Popsicle sticks

Hay, straw or dried grass


Words that are written in bold are when the leader is speaking.Feel free to use your own words.

BEGIN THIS ACTIVITY SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

Invite a volunteer to read the story of Jesus’ birth from an age appropriate Bible.Or, tell the story in your own words highlighting the roles of Mary & Joseph, shepherds, wise men, angels and Jesus.Talk about from where the people came and who arrived at the stable first (Mary & Joseph), second (angels), third (shepherds), fourth (Jesus) and fifth (wise men).

ACTIVITY (Option 1 using a pre-made nativity set):Use a box turned on its side to represent the stable.Locate the box in the room where you will celebrate Christmas morning. Pick different rooms in the house (or different areas in one room) to represent the different story locations.Make signs to place over the doorways or areas to identify the different locations. Begin by placing the people in their appropriate rooms or areas:

Bethlehem:Stable and manger

Nazareth:Mary and Joseph

The Fields:Shepherds

Far East:Wise Men

Heaven:Angels

Every few days move the people from their starting point, closer to the stable in Bethlehem. Plan your days so that Mary and Joseph arrive at the stable a few days before Christmas.Have the angels arrive on Christmas Eve.Jesus arrives Christmas morning.The shepherds can arrive later Christmas day and the wise men can arrive a few days later or even New Year’s morning.

ACTIVITY (Option 2, making your own nativity set.):Gather the supplies and make your own nativity set.You may need two sessions to build your nativity set.Then, tell the story by following the same directions as in Option 1. Color the cones, balls and egg Styrofoam using washable paints.Pick colors to define the characters.For example:

10 balls (heads): yellow

Mary cone: red

Joseph cone: blue

2 Shepherd cones: orange

3 Wise men cones: purple and pink

3 Angel cones: yellow

1 Baby Jesus egg shape: purple

After the paint dries, attach the ball heads to the cone bodies using toothpicks and glue.Use yellow pipe cleaners to make halos for the angels and brown pipe cleaners to make staffs for the shepherds.

Make the stable.Cut the top out of a box.The box needs to be big enough to hold Mary, Joseph and the manger with baby Jesus.Turn the box on its side with the opening facing forward.This will serve as the stable.You may choose to paint or decorate the box. 

Using Popsicle sticks, glue or tape, make a manger large enough to hold the baby Jesus.Fill the manger with hay, straw or dry grass.


Memorize:

Kings, Shepherds and Angels came to see,

The baby Jesus, born to Joseph and Mary.


Close in Prayer

Week Three Activity: 

Away in A Manger

Idea from Cara Jacobs

Teaching Goal: Identify and change things we do that push Jesus away.

Scripture: Luke 2:1-21, Matthew 2:1-9:The stories of Jesus’ birth and the visiting Wise Men.

Materials: Container to serve as a manger

Small baby doll or figurine to represent Jesus

Large piece of wrapping paper

Christmas ads from a newspaper, mail or magazine

Christmas lights

Map or picture of extended family

Words written in bold are when the leader is speaking.Feel free to use your own words.

ACTIVITY:Summarize the Christmas story or invite a volunteer to read Luke 2:1-21 and Matthew 2:1-9.

This is a manger and the doll represents baby Jesus.I’m going to read the words to a popular Christmas song. Another option is to sing the song as a family. 

Away in a manger,

No crib for a bed.

The little Lord Jesus,

Lay down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky

Look down where he lay.

The little lord Jesus

Asleep in the hay.

What do you think the phrase, “away in a manger” means?Listen to their answers.The manger was located away from other people.The manger was not a normal place for a baby.Jesus was born in a place for animals. Jesus was born in Bethlehem away from his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus is God’s son who came from heaven and was born on earth.

In the song, Jesus was away in a manger and sometimes we do things that keep Jesus away from Christmas.Let’s talk about ways we push Jesus away from Christmas.

Presents. How can presents push Jesus away at Christmas time? Listen to answers. Jealousy over what others receive.Greed over wanting more and more presents. Giving gifts that would not be pleasing to Jesus.Put the piece of wrapping paper over baby Jesus.

Advertising. How can TV commercials, store displays, magazine and newspaper ads push Jesus away at Christmas time?Listen to answers.The focus is on buying for ourselves without ever thinking about Jesus. They replace the word “Christmas” with the word “holiday.”Commercials make us want more and more stuff, when we’re supposed to celebrate Jesus’ birth.(With older children you might put a value on the top three gifts they are requesting.Then compare that to how much the family gives to food baskets, Angel Tree, Operation Christmas child, etc.) Put a Christmas ad from the newspaper, mail or magazine over Jesus.

Christmas lights. How can the decorations, lights and Santa Claus push Jesus away at Christmas? Listen to answers. Santa Claus may seem more important than Jesus. Put a string of Christmas lights over the baby Jesus.

Family. How could family push Jesus away at Christmas time?Listen to answers.Complaining, arguing as we travel to see relatives.We’re more eager to see relatives than Jesus.Put a map or picture of family members over the baby Jesus.

We need to uncover Jesus so he is close to us and visible during the Christmas season.How can we use each of these items to emphasize Jesus at Christmas?

Family. Listen to answers.Read the Christmas story, listen to Christmas songs and/or watch Christmas DVDs while traveling.Play “Christmas” charades with family members.Talk about how Jesus was involved in your life during the past year.Remove the map or picture.

Santa Claus and decorations.Listen to answers. Drive around the neighborhood looking for manger scenes and stars. How can some Christmas decorations remind us of Jesus?Lights represent Jesus as “light of the world”, evergreen tree represents eternal life… You might consider brainstorming ideas on how to include Santa Claus in the fun without ignoring Jesus.Remove the Christmas lights.

Holiday Sale advertisement.Listen to answers. Toys are usually not as cool as they appear in the ads. Being aware and being thoughtful about what we see will keep us from being fooled and help us focus on the real meaning of Christmas.Try to think more about giving than getting. Remove the advertisement.

Wrapping paper. Listen to answers. Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child and other programs are ways we can use wrapping paper to make a gift to Jesus. Be thankful for the gifts we get. Put more thought into what I can give others rather than my own wish list. Remove the wrapping paper.

Let’s work together to eliminate the distractions so we can see Jesus this Christmas.

Memorize

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Close in Prayer

Week 4 Christmas Eve Activity: 

Singing Angels 


Teaching Goal: Angels sang to announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds.

Scripture: Luke 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying:“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

Materials:Portable music player

Familiar Christmas music

Elevated place to play the music: roof, 2nd floor window, balcony, etc.

Appropriate clothing, blankets, etc. for the winter weather

Hot chocolate

In Advance: (Note:This activity works best in the evening after dark.) Set up the music player in an elevated location. For example, put the player in a partially open second floor window overlooking the yard, or set the player on top of a ladder.

Words written in bold are when the leader is speaking.Feel free to use your own words.

ACTIVITY: We’re going outside for Family Time! Turn on the Christmas music and go outside to the tarp and/or blankets. I’m going to read part of the Christmas story in the Bible and then we’ll have some hot chocolate and sing along with the music. Read Luke 2:13.

Sitting under the stars, listening to music coming out of the sky, makes me think about the shepherds in the field listening to the angels. Sing along with the songs and talk about the Christmas story. How many people can you name who are included in the story of Jesus’ birth? Jesus. Mary. Joseph. Shepherds.Herod. What else can you remember that the Bible tells us about the birth of Jesus that we're celebrating? Why do we celebrate Jesus' birth? He is the Savior of the world. We have hope because of Jesus. He is God's Son and He deserves glory and worship. Let's go to bed tonight amazed at how God used angels to announce Jesus' birth and praise Him that Jesus came to earth!

Memorize:

Angels above the earth,

Announce Jesus’ birth.

Close in Prayer

Did you love having Family Time each week this Christmas season?

We hope you did!


You can keep the fun and learning all year long!

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