Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nativity Devotions

I posted in my Advent entry that we're doing something new this year: Nativity Devotions. Every few days, my girls put a new piece of the manger scene into the stable. We read the corresponding Bible story and talk about them as we go. Because I think better through writing than by winging it, I wrote myself up an outline for each day. And because I'm awesome (and humble), I'm sharing it with all of you. ;-)

We're doing most of our reading passages from the Jesus Storybook Bible* because it's so much more kid friendly. JSB doesn't have a section on Joseph, so I read it out of the Bible (with a tiny bit of censoring. I'm not sure how appropriate that is, but my kids are 5 and 2. I wasn't prepared to discuss "public disgrace," divorce, and "consummation" with them.)

The questions are largely geared toward Lucy. And some parts of the outline are pretty specific to our family, but hopefully you'll still find it helpful. :-)

Day One: Mary
Passage: Matthew 1:26-38 or pp 178-179 in the Jesus Storybook Bible

Questions:
  1. Would you be scared if an angel showed up in your bedroom?
  2. What did the angel tell Mary?
  3. How did Mary respond to God’s news? (“Whatever God says, I will do.”)

Day Two: Joseph
Passage: Matthew 1:18-24

Explain:
Joseph and Mary were engaged, but they weren’t married yet when Mary found out she was pregnant with Jesus. Joseph wasn’t sure if he should still marry her, but then he had a dream where an angel told him to marry Mary and to raise baby Jesus as his son. Joseph obeyed God’s command and married Mary.

Questions:
  1. God told Joseph what to do in a dream. God doesn’t do that anymore. Our dreams don’t mean anything. So how do we know what God wants us to do now? [the Bible]
  2. Did Joseph obey God?
  3. What are some of the things God tells us to do in the Bible?
    1. Do unto others (Matthew 7:12)
    2. Love God. Love others. (Matt. 22:37)
    3. Share with God’s people who are in need. (Romans 12:13)
    4. Serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
    5. Do good to all people. (Galatians 6:10)
    6. Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. (Eph. 4:29 Good News Translation)
    7. Be kind, compassionate. Forgive. (Eph. 4:32)
    8. Obey your parents. (Eph. 6:1)
    9. Do everything without complaining or arguing. (Phil. 2:14)
    10. Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (1 Thess. 5:15)
    11. Be content with what you have. (Hebrews 13:5)
  4. How can we obey God today?

Day Three: No Room in The Inn
Nativity Piece: the animals
Passage: Luke 2:1-7 or pp 180-182 in the Jesus Storybook Bible

Explain:
The man in charge of their country said everyone had to go to their hometown to be counted. You know how Luke and Esther just moved to Florida? Well, they’d have to come back here to be counted if we lived back then. So Mary and Joseph had to go on a long journey to get to their hometown.

They didn’t have cars back then, so Mary rode on a donkey and Jospeh walked. Can you imagine walking that far? (70-80 miles according to my Internet research. See if I can find a location the girls know that’s roughly that far away?)  It probably took them around 4 days to travel that far.

Mary and Joseph planned on staying in a hotel when they got to Bethlehem. The problem was everyone else in the country was traveling too, so all the rooms were taken by the time they got there! But Mary was about have her baby and she needed a place to stay. They went to all the hotels and begged for someplace to stay until finally someone told them they could stay in the barn.

While they were staying in the barn, Jesus was born!

Questions:
  1. Why did Mary and Joseph have to stay in a barn?
  2. Who helped them when they couldn’t find a place to stay? (The innkeeper)
  3. How can we help other people who need help like the innkeeper helped Joseph and Mary?
  4. What kind of animals do you think lived in that barn?
  5. How do you think the barn smelled?
  6. What do you think it sounded like? Was it a quiet place for Jesus to sleep?
  7. Where did Jesus sleep? [Look up pictures of a manger/feeding trough.]
  8. Was it clean?
  9. When our baby is born, where will he sleep? Will it stink? Will it be noisy?
Bonus:

Day Four: Jesus
Passage: Luke 2:6-7 or pg. 182 in the Jesus Storybook Bible

Explain:
The world was full of sin and needed a rescuer – someone to come take away sin and make a way to Heaven. Jesus was that rescuer. Remember how the angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus? God wanted that to be his name, because Jesus means “the Lord saves.” Matthew 1:21 says, “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus came down from heaven – the most wonderful place you can imagine – to a dirty, stinky stable so that he could grow up and die on the cross for our sins. That’s how much he loves us!

Questions:
  1. Why did the world need a rescuer?
  2. What does the name “Jesus” mean?
  3. Why did Jesus come down from Heaven? (to die, but also because he loves us)
    1. Do we know a verse about how God showed us he loved us by sending Jesus to die? (John 3:16)
    2. How can we be rescued from our sins?

Day Five: Shepherds and Angels
Nativity Piece: Angel (our nativity set doesn’t have shepherds, so we’re including their story with the Angels’)
Passage: Luke 2:8-20 or pp 184-190 in the Jesus Storybook Bible

Questions:
  1. Who did the angels appear to?
  2. Why did they come? (to share the good news)
  3. Why were the angels and the shepherds so excited? Why was what they said such good news?
  4. What did the angels do after they shared the good news? (Sang praises)
  5. What is a praise song? Do we know any? Can we sing some right now?

Day Six: Wise Men
Passage: Matthew 2:1-12 or pp 192-198 in the Jesus Storybook Bible

Questions:
  1. Who were the wise men looking for?
  2. Why did they call Jesus a king? (They knew that even though he started out as a baby, he was going to be King of the whole world some day. And even though he died on earth, he rose again and is the King in Heaven now.)
  3. What did they follow to find Jesus?
  4. What did they do when they found him? (worshiped, gave gifts)
    1. How can we worship Jesus? (singing praises, obeying his commands)
    2. Can we give Jesus gifts? (Not like we give each other gifts. He’s in heaven and the post office doesn’t deliver there. But Matthew 25 says that when we help others in need, it’s like giving Jesus a gift. [Sheep and Goats parable])
      1. What are some ways we can help others in need? (Food, blankets, etc. to the poor. Toys for Tots. Operation Christmas Child.)

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