Look It Up
For this month's devotional, you'll read Luke 1:26-Luke 2:20, using a different passage each week. You can stick with just the suggested passage or build up to reading the entire Christmas story at once.
Collect a handful of straw from your Thanksgiving decorations, a hay bale or a local animal farm. Dried grass will do in a pinch. Find a nail for each family member. Find one small box for each family member?old ring boxes are about the right size. Place a bit of straw in each box and place a nail on top of the straw. Close the boxes and wrap them with Christmas paper. Keep these out of sight until Week 3. Set aside some extra straw.
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11; NASB).
Talk It Over
WEEK 1: Mary's Faith
Let everyone hold a little of the straw. The straw is a reminder that we're on our way to the stable in Bethlehem. Now read this week's passage, Luke 1:26-38. How do you think Mary felt when she was called "favored one"? How did Mary respond to being told she would be the mother of Jesus? Have you ever had to do something that you thought was impossible? End your time together by asking God to help your family trust him, even when something seems impossible.
WEEK 2: The Proof
This week, read Luke 1:39-55. Talk about how Mary might have felt when she saw that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, just like the angel said she would be. Talk about times when you've needed "proof" that God would keep his promises to your family. To end your devotions, read Mary's prayer (verses 46-55) together as your family's prayer of thanks and praise to God.
WEEK 3: The Gift
This week, read Luke 2:1-7. Bring out the small wrapped boxes and have each person open his or her box. This is Jesus' gift to each of us. Talk about the straw. Why do you think God sent us a Savior in the form of a tiny baby who was born in a stable? Now talk about the nail. What does it represent? In what ways is Jesus the best Christmas present ever? End your time by thanking God for the incredible gift of his Son.
WEEK 4: The News
This week, read Luke 2:8-20. Place some straw on the table as a reminder of the kind of work the shepherds did. Why is it surprising that they were the first people to hear about Jesus' birth? How do you think the shepherds felt when they heard the angel calling to them? The shepherds told lots of people about what happened. Do you think people believed them? How do you feel when you tell people about Jesus? End your time by asking God to help you tell other people about Jesus.
Karen L. Maudlin, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in family therapy. She also taught in a Montessori-based children's worship program at her church. She and her family live in Illinois.
Have your child think about his or her own bed. Talk about how soft and warm it is. Then ask your child to think about Jesus' bed in the manger. What did Jesus' bed feel like? Talk about babies. How is a baby different from a king? Would people expect God's Son to come to earth as a little baby? Use some of the straw and a small shoebox to help your child make a small cradle to remind him of baby Jesus.
Talk to your child about the angel who came to Mary. Ask questions like: What would it be like to talk to an angel? Do you think it was hard for Mary to believe the angel? How did Mary show her faith in God? Help your child draw an angel and write the memory verse on a piece of paper. Encourage her to memorize the verse this month.
Talk to your child about what it would have been like to be Mary and Joseph. Ask: How do you think Mary and Joseph felt about being in a strange town and having nowhere to sleep? When have you felt scared or alone? Was it hard for you to trust God during that time?
If your children have a pretty good understanding of Christ's death and resurrection, have each person talk about how it feels to know that Jesus was born to die for our sins. Then, talk about ways you can show each other God's love this Christmas.
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