Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Story

When I watched this video with our kids (or this video on Vimeo if you are in Germany...thanks, Kathi!), God impressed on my heart the feeling that Christmas is really about the great Rescue Plan and to really understand what that baby in a manger means, you need to look at the whole story.  From reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with our children, to reading through the Bible in 90 days, this has been pressed deeply into my heart.  Out of that, I bore the idea of an object lesson using presents to tell the story of Christmas.  (If you have seen Resurrection Eggs, you may know where I'm going with this.)

I gathered a list of items that I wanted--pieces of the story that I wanted to tell--along with verses of scripture that coordinated.  I have specific reasons why I chose the scriptures that I did, but there are MANY different options.  It was hard to choose.  I didn't want this to take too long (it took a little over an hour for us to open them).  If you were doing something like this with your family, you could do one present per day, you could add in a couple different themes to get the number up to 12 and have the "12 Days of Christmas", or some variation.

I had each of the items wrapped as "presents" and numbered so we would know which order to open them in.

1) Creation  I had a children's board book that had a wonderful poem about creation in it.  The book was very quick to read.  The verse I printed was Genesis 1:31a  "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good."

2) Sin or the Fall of Man  In this box was a plastic snake and an apple.  Scripture was Genesis 3:1-6. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
    He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."

3) Death enters the world  We know from scripture that death did not exist until the fall.  So I chose a sword to represent killing, but also handcuffs to represent the chains of bondage to sin man is now under.  The scripture we read was Romans 5:12-14 "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come."

4) Unrighteousness and the Law In the next box was the Law (a copy of the 10 Commandments) and "filthy rags"...one for each person to drape around their necks.  We read Romans 3: 10-12,
"as it is written:
    “None is righteous, no, not one;
        no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”"

 5) Prophets (The Great Rescue Plan) I could have divided this into two parts.  But in this box was a flashlight and a crown.  We read two scriptures (and I certainly could have added much more), first was Isaiah 9:2, 
"The people who walked in darkness
        have seen a great light;
    those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
        on them has light shone."
Next was Jeremiah 23:5, "“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.""


6) The birth of Jesus  The kids had been looking for baby Jesus under the tree where he is every year, but they were disappointed to not find him there this year.  Caleb was especially disappointed.  I was pleased that it just so happened that Caleb was the one to open the box with our baby Jesus doll.  Each child took a turn holding him.  The scripture we read was Luke 2:1-14,
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
    And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
    “Glory to God in the highest,
        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
 

7) The Crucifixion  In this box we had a wooden cross, nails, a hammer, a notepad, and a pen.  Each of us (age 6 and up) took a turn writing one sin we have personally committed and we "nailed" it to the cross.  We read three scriptures (I chose these to tie into the ones we had already read):  Isaiah 53:5
"But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed."
Romans 5:19  "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Romans 5:8  "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
 



8) The Resurrection  In this box was a "tomb" I had created using a shoe box.  I lined the inside of the box with black paper and covered the outside with gray duct tape.  I left a little opening at the back and a larger opening at the front.  There was a flap that could be pulled out of the way to see inside.  When the children held the tomb up to let the light shine through the small opening in the back, they could barely see enough inside to see that it was empty.  Also in this box were the keys to the handcuffs from box 3.  We read 1 Corinthians 15:14, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." and 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." (again, my choice of these verses tied back in to the verses I chose from the beginning)


9) The problem of sin continues  This box has a gun to represent the problem of sin still existing.  This wasn't where you thought I was going next, right?  But it is so true...Jesus has come, we have been freed from sin, but sin still exists and bad things still happen.  So what is going on here?  Did the Rescue Plan fail?   I had printed a lot of scripture for this, but in the end I didn't read it all because too many kids had the wiggles.  But I had chosen Romans 7:15, 21-25,  "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate...So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."  Romans 8:20-25,  "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."  And Philippians 1:6, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

10) Christ is coming back  I wanted to put a letter in this box that said "I am coming back for you", but in the end I didn't feel comfortable writing it.  I did include new, freshly ironed, white strips of cloth to contrast the filthy rags we opened in box 4, to represent being clothed in Christ's righteousness.  We read Revelation 19:6-9, 11, 16
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
    “Hallelujah!
    For the Lord our God
        the Almighty reigns.
    Let us rejoice and exult
        and give him the glory,
    for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
        and his Bride has made herself ready;
    it was granted her to clothe herself
        with fine linen, bright and pure”—
    for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
    And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war...On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Revelation 21:5a "And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” "


Will you be at the marriage supper of the Lamb, clothed in fine linen, bright and pure?  If you are not sure, take time to read back through each of the scriptures I posted.  Realize there is nothing in yourself--no merit worthy--you are clothed now in filthy rags.  Put on the righteousness of Christ, bought and paid for by him, given freely to those who don't deserve it.  We pray for each of our children that they may choose to turn from sin and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.  I know, at least in America, the statement "Jesus is the reason for the season" is an overused cliche.  It is true, he IS the reason for the season, but I think many people do not understand what that reason really is.  It is not just about Mary giving birth to a baby and wrapping him in swaddling cloths and lying him in a manger.  It is so much more...

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful steph! You are so amazingly talented!

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  2. I love this idea, Steph! I'm going to have to remember this to do with my boys as they get a little older!

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