In our day to day activities during the Christmas season, there is so much fun and excitement (sometimes stress & business too). There is deocorating and baking, trees and ornaments, stars and tinsel, shopping and giving, and the ever present anticipation of Christmas morning gifts, especially for kids.
During all of this seasonal business, do you also spend time reflecting on the events of the very first Christmas, the night that Jesus was born?
Maybe we can set aside just a few minutes to take a break – whether it’s the week before Christmas, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, to reflect on the origin of this holiday by reading the original version. Building this reading & reflection time into your personal and family traditions will go a long way to provide a solid foundation for holiday gatherings for years to come.
Readings, videos and music below. (Don’t miss the Christmas story via Bohemian Rhapsody):
1. Birth of Jesus Foretold (Luke 1:26-38)
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrotheda] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”c]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
With children: Read the verses aloud and then share in more familiar language with your child about how God sent the Angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her the Holy Spirit would cover her and she would have a baby boy and name Him Jesus.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
With children: Read the passage and then share with your child in more familiar language how an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that the baby Jesus would be coming soon.
2.The Birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:1-7)
2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 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, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 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.c]
With children: Read. This is a good place to discuss why Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem and why there was no room in the “hotels”. Share how Mary gave birth in the stable and placed the baby Jesus in a manger. Be prepared to give an example of what swaddling is – you can use beach towel and swaddle your kiddo!
3. The Shepherds and the Angels (Luke 2:8-20)
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”a]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
With children: Read, then tell the story of how the angel appeared to the shepherds in the field and told them about the birth of the Savior. This is a beautiful passage to read directly from the Bible to your children. Ask them to imagine themselves in a field and suddenly an angel appears in the sky. Ask how they would feel, what they would do.
4. The Visit of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)
2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise mena] from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it roseb] and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
With Children: Read. Then share the story of the 3 Kings/Wisemen/Magi (a group of distinguished men from out of town) who travelled a long way to visit Jesus after his birth. When the Wise Men finally reached Jesus and Mary, they would have been living in a normal house in Bethlehem and Jesus would have been between one and two years told. Then they gave their gifts to him. The gifts seem strange to give to a baby, but Christians believe that they had special meanings. You might want to skip the details of King Herod and his plan to kill Jesus, depending on the age of your child.
A video or musical storytelling can work well too:
However you decide to tell the story, enjoy the reason for the season and all the hope and love He brings!