4 weeks to celebrate Jesus’ gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love with children at Christmas.
Shopping mall Santas, holiday toy ads, and school musicals depicting snowmen and wintry weather — the weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with anticipation and preparation. In the midst of holiday hoopla, it’s all too easy for kids to forget the real reason we celebrate. They anticipate gifts rather than the Savior’s birth; they prepare cookies and milk for Santa rather than prepare their tender hearts for Jesus — if we don’t help them.
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In the weeks leading up to Christmas, use these ideas to prepare kids’ hearts as they anticipate the miracle of Christmas.
(P.S. We’ve also included five weeks’ worth of ideas kids can take home and share with their families to learn more about Jesus’ gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love!)
Week 1: Jesus: The Gift of Hope
Use this devotion to help kids discover that Jesus gives us hope.
Bible Connect: Micah 5:2
Stuff: Yarn, a cross in your building, treats, tape, and a Bible
Before this activity, place the treats at the base of the cross.
Say: What great news! We celebrate Christmas because our Savior was born! Do you know that God’s people had waited hundreds of years for this event? Let’s visit a place that reminds us of babies being born.
Lead kids to the nursery. At the door, read aloud Micah 5:2.
Say: God told his people their Savior would be born in Bethlehem. But how can a baby save the world? Babies can’t do much — they can’t even talk! What do you think people dreamed this baby might one day do? Let’s walk to see what that special, tiny baby grew up to do for all people. There’s something very special there, waiting for you and me.
Tape one end of the yarn to the wall next to the nursery and unroll it as you lead children to the cross in your church. When you reach the cross, attach the yarn to the cross with tape.
Say: Jesus died on a cross so our sins — the things we’ve done wrong — can be forgiven. His birth in Bethlehem was a gift, but our hope — the promise of eternal life with Jesus — is here at the cross. Pass out the treats. Say: Jesus’ gift to us is sweeter than any treat. Let’s pray and thank Jesus for his love and the hope we have in him.
Hope In Action
Have kids spread out around the room and think about something they hope to get for Christmas, without telling anyone. Tell kids that when you tap them on the head, they’ll strike a pose of the item they hope to get for Christmas. For example, someone who wants a bike would freeze frame in a biking position. Explain that when someone strikes a pose, everyone else will try to guess what it is.
When everyone has had a turn, ask: How is hoping for a gift like or unlike the true hope of Christmas — Jesus? If you could share one of these kinds of hope with someone less fortunate than you, which would you choose? Explain. Then on the count of three, have kids strike a pose that represents the true hope of Christmas.
Ask kids to count the items they put on their Christmas lists. For each item on their lists, have kids think of one way they can share the hope of Christmas with someone who may not receive many gifts. For example, someone with 12 things on his list might give 12 items of food to a homeless shelter. Someone with three big things might give three toys he or she no longer plays with to a family who just lost their house in a fire.
A Week of Hope
Copy these ideas for parents to use during the week.
• Home-Each morning at breakfast discuss your upcoming plans for Christmas. Discuss how anticipating this special family time is like or unlike what Mary and Joseph hoped for as they awaited Jesus’ birth.
• School-Share with a friend from school a struggle you’ve experienced and how you were able to remain hopeful because of your faith.
• Community-The color yellow often represents hope. Tie yellow ribbons around candy canes and deliver them to your neighbors. Explain the symbolism of the yellow ribbon and the candy cane.
(For the candy cane’s story, click here.)