The list could go on and on, but the first thing that should pop into our heads (and stay there) is the birth of Jesus.
|Photo courtesy of Malene Thyssen|
Imagine, it's a dark night and you are alone in your bed. You are awoke by a bright light. As you look around, you see someone in your room whom you've never seen before - an angel. You are scared. What should you do? Should you run or scream?
The angel begins to speak to you and you calm down and know that this angel is bringing you a message from heaven - a message from God.
This is what happened to Mary, Jesus' mother. She was scared, but thankfully she didn't run away.
The Christmas Story
Just like the scene above, Mary received a surprise visit from the angel Gabriel. The angel had come with a message from God.
Gabriel first told Mary, 'Don't be afraid. I have good news for you'.
You see, Mary was very special to God and needed her to be the mother of Jesus. Gabriel had come to tell her the news. Imagine - out of all the women (or girls) in Israel, Mary was the chosen one.
Mary didn't understand how she could have a baby right now.
Gabriel said, 'For with God, nothing shall be impossible!' (Luke 1:37 KJV)
Mary didn't argue or say she didn't want to right now. Instead, she said, 'Whatever you say, I'll do.' (Luke 1:38 KJV)
If only we would say, "Yes Lord, whatever you say, I'll do it." It can be hard especially if it means being nice to another child at school, minding mom or dad, or even not arguing with your brother or sister. We should all try to be more like Mary and do what God needs us to do.
Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin, Elisabeth, was also going to have a son. This was also a miracle because Elisabeth was old and had never had any children. The bible tells us that Elisabeth's son was to be called John (later known as John the Baptist). His job from birth was to tell others about the coming Messiah (Jesus).
Mary wanted to visit her cousin Elisabeth and set out on the journey to see her. Mary stayed three months before journeying back home to tell Joseph about the coming baby.
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What Will Joseph Do?
When Mary told Joseph about the angel's message from God and about the coming baby, Joseph was unsure of what to do.
Should he still marry her?
Joseph worried. One night while Joseph slept, Gabriel came to him in a dream. The angel told him not to be afraid to make Mary his wife. This dream was all it took for Joseph to marry Mary. You see, Joseph was to help Mary raise Jesus.
The Road to BethlehemDuring this time, Caesar Augustus decided that everyone that was under his rule should come to Bethlehem to be counted so that they could be taxed. (Be prepared to explain this if children ask what taxing or counted means.)
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So, Joseph and Mary set off on their long journey to Bethlehem.
When they arrived at the city, it was crowded because of all the other people who had traveled there to be counted. Every place was full. The bible tells us that there was no room for them in the inn.
Where would they sleep? It was time for Mary to have baby Jesus. There were no hospitals. There wasn't even a room inside a house where she could lay. What would they do?
Because there was no room in the inn, Mary delivered baby Jesus, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. We don't know if she was in a stable or a cave of some sort which was where stables normally were in those days. We believe this may have been the case, but the bible does not say. She may have given birth out under the stars.
What We Can Learn
The story of the birth of Jesus is surrounded with many wonders which goes along with the wonders of the Christmas holidays. There is so much we can learn, but for younger kids stick to the basics (below). For older kids, you can dig a little deeper into the story.
We learn that no matter how scared we are if God needs us, we should be willing to obey - just like Mary. We also find that Jesus wasn't born in a fancy house or expensive hospital. He was born and laid in a manger. A manger is a place where the animals eat their food. It probably was dirty and smelt bad.
Mary didn't have a warm soft blanket to wrap Jesus in either. Instead, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Swaddling clothes are strips of cloth that often were used to wipe down the animals with. Jesus didn't have expensive clothes. We often think we have to have the best clothes or the newest styles. If Jesus didn't have to have expensive clothes, we sure don't either.
This holiday season, don't focus on how many toys or clothes you get. Instead, focus on the birth of Jesus and how many people you can tell the story to.