Growing Wholesome Families

Keep Christ in Christmas
Friday, October 29, 2021 by Karen Whiting

Nativity Set Activities to Keep Christ in Christmas

At Christmas, little figurines of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus fascinate children. This year use the crèche to help focus on the meaning of Christmas,  teach children spiritual truths, and keep Christ in Christmas. Start by making a special event of setting up a nativity set. Read the account of the birth of Jesus from a child’s Bible. You may have a few sets, including a child set that is not breakable for children to handle and use in play. If there is a play set, chat about the story each time your children play with the set. Try fun activities to make the most of your nativity set, keep Christ in Christmas, and to help your children grow in faith.

Nativity Activities to Keep Christ in Christmas

Talk about each figure while chatting about the story.
Discuss the place to set it up and how to care for the set.
Add just one figuring to the set each day to focus on that animal or person. Chat about why that creature or individual is part of the set. Make the sounds of any animals and discuss how those animals help people.
Use the figures to act out the story or have children lift up each appropriate piece as you retell the story.
Instead of putting all the figures in the set at the beginning of advent, move them toward the set throughout the weeks. This helps children understand that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and that the other people came there after the birth of Jesus.
Place Jesus in a little box and giftwrap him. This helps children understand God sent Jesus to us as a special promised gift. You can read Psalm 127:3 that every child is a gift from God and also talk about the gift of life. Then when you open the gift to place Jesus in the crèche read John 3:16 and how God the Father gave us Jesus.
Rejoice over the nativity set and sing songs around it, such as O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, We Three Kings, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
Celebrate the birth of Jesus with a party and let the nativity set be the display on the table.

Focus on Each Nativity Figure

When children explore each figure of the nativity set they connect more with the birth of Jesus. They also develop a deeper understanding of the importance of Christ coming that helps keep Christ in Christmas.

Joseph was a carpenter so make a small wooden cross.
Mary was mom who cooked and cleaned for Jesus as he grew. Help your mom with cooking and cleaning.
Jesus was a baby. Buy a baby toy to give to a toy drive.
Look at the wooly sheep and find items made from wool. Give clothes you’ve outgrown to the poor.
Cows give us milk so make milkshakes or enjoy a glass of milk.
Donkeys help carry people so let mom or dad give donkey rides.
Shepherds guide the sheep with their staffs. Pass out candy canes as reminders of shepherds.
Angels spread the news of the birth of Jesus. Go and tell others about the reason for Christmas.

Prepare to Keep Christ in Christmas with Adventure

As Christmas draws near there’s more than gift lists to prepare. We need to realize how long people waited for Jesus to come. We also need to prepare our hearts. One way is with an advent wreath. Advent begins December 3rd, so prepare ahead by making plans to focus on Jesus during December. It can be fun to light an advent wreath each day. Each candle has a name and meaning that inspire us to act on the word.

Week 1-Hope

> Read about the hope of Jesus coming in prophecies:

Isaiah 9:7 the prophecy of the savior to come from the line of David

Micah 5:2 the prophecy of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem

Isaiah 7:14 the prophecy of the virgin birth

Hosea 11:1 the prophecy of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with Jesus

Isaiah 61:1 and Isaiah 35:4-6 the prophecies that Jesus would perform miracles

Bring hope to the needy by choosing names from a giving tree or shopping to fill Toys for Tots containers

Week 2 Love the purpose of Christ coming was to show God’s love to us.

Read John 3:16 of why God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son
Hold hands to form a human wreath and say a prayer for the person on the right, going around the circle. Then compliment the person on the left.
Praise Jesus and thank God the Father for sending Jesus.

Week 3 Joy because Christmas is so much closer and the wreath is so lit up. Joy is not the same as feeling happy. Joy is an inner gladness of heart that comes from trusting God.

Sing Christmas carols
Talk the acronym j-o-y for Jesus-others-self. If we put Jesus first and think of others before ourselves it is much easier to have joy. J
Rejoice with the candy cane shape of a shepherd’s staff. Make rolls, cookies, and cake in the shape of a candy cane this week.

Week 4 Peace the message the angels proclaimed at the birth of Christ!

Before speaking, consider if the words will be kind.
Peace doesn’t mean avoiding problems, but reminds us to discuss differences, listen calmly and find a solution that benefits people without hurting anyone.
Practice listening skills.
Pray for world peace and peace with the people you see daily.

For daily activities get the book Christmas is Coming! Waiting is Hard.

Angels and Christ’s Birth that help Keep Christ in Christmas
Angels took an active role in the first Christmas. Check out these scriptures about angels

The angel named Gabriel spoke to Mary about being the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38)
The angel of the Lord told Zacharias his wife would give birth to John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-17). John would be a special man who would prepare people for Jesus.
When Joseph was upset that Mary would have a baby when she was not married an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream to say the baby was from God (Matthew 1:18-25).
            On the night of the birth of Jesus the sky filled with angels who sang praises to God and celebrated the birth.  They celebrated with a party in the sky. One angel announced to the shepherds that they could find the savior in Bethlehem in a stable (Luke 2:8-14).
To save Jesus from King Herod who wanted to kill him, an angel appeared to Joseph in another dream and told him to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15).

Angels are God’s special helpers, so  Celebrate angels this Christmas

Be like angels and tell others about the birth of Jesus.
Be secret angels by helping people. You can give a present to someone in need or secretly do extra chores around the house.
Sing Christmas songs about angels like Hark the Herald Angel Sing!
If it snows, make snow angels.
Make angels in ice cream or whipped cream like snow angels. Use a plastic knife to make the shape of the body and wings by swishing it back and forth.
Check out angel crafts on Pinterest for ideas to make angel ornaments and decorations.
Dress up as angels and go caroling. Use loops of gold tree tinsel for halos.
Make angel cookies.
Go on an angel hunt when shopping at the mall.
Blow up white balloons to hang from the ceiling as angels in the sky.

Christmas Tree Code Puzzle

God compares himself to an evergreen tree in the second half of Hosea 14:8. Enjoy a puzzle in the shape of a tree to find a special Christmas verse.

Start at the top of the tree. Change each letter to the one before it in the alphabet and each number to the one before it numerically (so replace a 5 with a 4 or a C with a B. Each * is a space between words.  It spells out the message the angels told the shepherds on the night Jesus was born. Look up the verse in the Bible to check your answer.

__ __ __    __ __ __ __ __    __ __    __ __ __    __ __ __ __    __ __    __ __ __ __ __    __

__ __ __ __ __ __     __ __ __     __ __ __ __    __ __ __ __      __ __ __    __ __ __    __ __ __    __ __     __ __ __ __ __ __ __    __ __ __     __ __ __ __.  __ __ __ __    __:__ __

The Magi Puzzle and Word Search

Figure out the words to find in the word search puzzle from these clues and from reading Matthew 2:1-12

> Name for wise men
> Direction where they came from
> What they gave Jesus (another word for presents)
> One of the three gifts
> Incense another gift
> Last gift named
> King at the time of Jesus’ birth
> How they learned to go back a different way
> What they followed to find Jesus
> They looked for a new __ __ __ __
> Gospel that tells about their visit
> Town where Jesus was born
> Where Jesus lived when wise men came (not in a stable anymore)
> Date in January we celebrate the visit of the wise men

Write in all but last 2 letters not circled in puzzle to find a name for this special day.

__ __ __ __ __    __ __    __ __ __    __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Enjoy faith and fun all year with family devotions.

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