Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Jesus Is Born" Action Rhyme for Preschoolers

Here's a fun action rhyme to help your students remember the Christmas story. Read Luke 2:1-17 from your open Bible. 

The birth of Jesus related in this passage emphasizes God's plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus. For instance, when the angel appears to the shepherds, he declared the Christ child to be the Savior and Messiah. He would bring peace and goodwill to humankind.No wonder the shepherds were so excited to share this wonderful news with everyone they saw (Luke 2:17-20).

Encourage the children to follow your motions as you do the rhyme:

Shepherds watching, watching, watching(use hands as pretend binoculars),

Watching over their flocks by night.
(Fold hands under head as if sleeping.)

Comes an angel, angel, angel
(stand tall and strong with hands on hips),

And the sky shines big and bright.
(Spread arms and wiggle fingers.)

The angel says, "GOOD NEWS!"
(Use a loud voice for capitalized words.)

The angel says, "GOOD NEWS!"
(Cup hands around mouth.)

The Son of God is born! (Clap, clap.)
The Son of God is born! (Clap, clap.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Family Devotion for Christmas

Here’s a family Christmas devotion you can use at home or in your church services this week. Use an advent wreath (with greenery and a sprig of berries or red flowers or ribbon, if possible). Place four candles around the wreath with a fifth white candle in the middle (or place the candles as your wreath allows). If you use purple and pink candles, the pink one represents joy. Adjust the speaking part below depending on your wreath. Copy this devotion so each participant has a copy. (Do not leave lit candles unattended.)

This devotion is taken from A Church Family Christmas Celebration (Item #3031) © Christian Ed Warehouse, www.ChristianEdWarehouse.com. Reprinted with permission.

During this time before Christmas we are preparing for the arrival of God’s Son, Jesus. Because God loves us, He chose His Son to be born on earth.

The candlelight wreath is round. The circle reminds us of God. God has no beginning and no end; He is eternal. The evergreen part of the wreath stands for life and hope. Jesus is the hope of the world. Red berries or flowers remind us that Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood so that our sins could be forgiven. The white candle(s) reminds us that Jesus has forgiven (or cleansed) us of our sins so that we may have eternal life.

(To be read by an adult or older child)
Luke 2:11-13, 21; John 1:9, 12 — “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger . . . . And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb . . . . That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world . . . . As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

Candle Lighting:           
Gather around the candlelight wreath. Have one person light the first candle as another says: The first candle we light is the Promise candle. God promised to send His Son, Jesus, and that promise came true.

Have another person light the second candle while someone else says: The second candle is the Bethlehem candle. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, was born in a stable at Bethlehem. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.

Have someone light the third candle, while another says: The third candle is the Angels candle. The joy and praise of the angels should be our joy, too, during this Christmas season and all year long.
Have another person light the fourth candle while someone says: The fourth candle is the Shepherds candle. Just as the shepherds told others about Jesus, we, too, should share the Good News of Jesus’ birth with others.

Have someone light the fifth candle while someone says: Today we light the final candle, which represents Jesus. This candle reminds us that Jesus Christ is God's Son, the Light of the world. We celebrate the arrival of the long-awaited King, born as a Baby in Bethlehem.

Song:     Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
              The little Lord Jesus laid down
              His sweet head.
              The stars in the sky looked down
              Where he lay.
              The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

Reading:         (To be read by a leader, child, and adult or older child.)

The candle in the center of the wreath represents Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Even before He was born, the angel told Mary the Baby's name. When the days were accomplished, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem.

Child:            They presented Jesus to the Lord.

We thank God for His wonderful Christmas gift to us. We thank Him that Jesus Christ came to be the Light of the world. We can spread the light of His love to everyone we meet.

Song:   Silent night, holy night, all is calm,
             All is bright.
             Round yon virgin, mother and child.
             Holy infant so tender and mild,
             Sleep in heavenly peace.
             Sleep in heavenly peace.

Ask family members to share their thoughts and feelings about what the birth of Jesus means to them personally. Talk about Christ, who is God's Son, having to be born into our world of sin. Talk about His love for each of us.

(To be read or spoken from the heart by one or two family members)
Dear God, We thank You for Jesus, the Savior of the world, who was born as a Baby in Bethlehem. Thank You that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that You raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). Help us to spread the Light of Christ’s love wherever we go during this Christmas season. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

(Have a family member extinguish the candles. Never leave lighted candles unattended.)
For more Christmas devotion and outreach ideas, take a look at the Church Family Christmas Celebration program. Everything you need to easily plan and organize a community-wide Christmas celebration. Includes CD-ROM with lots of reproducible coloring sheets, invitations, bulletin inserts, planning sheets, recruiting ideas, thank-you notes, and lots more.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free Christmas Lesson

Use this FREE Christmas lesson to help your elementary students act out the story of Jesus' birth. Printable activity sheets to go with the lesson are included as your Christmas gift from all of us at Christian Ed Warehouse. 

Have several children act out the parts. You will need an angel, Mary, shepherds, wise men, and King Herod. The children will act out the story as you read it. Simple costumes are optional. Hold your open Bible as you tell the story. Explain to the children that the Bible is God's Words and it is true. Click on the image below to download the complete lesson with activity sheets.

Scene 1: (Luke 1:26-35) Mary and the Angel 

At a special time, God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth, to a young woman planning to be married to a man named Joseph. The woman’s name was Mary. (Have the angel walk over to Mary, who lies down.) The angel appeared to her and said, “Greetings! You are a very special person to God! The Lord is with you.”

(Mary sits up in “bed,” looking up at her visitor.) Mary was afraid to suddenly see and hear an angel in her room. But the angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for God has chosen you for something wonderful. You will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will make Him a King whose kingdom will never end.”

“How can this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am not yet married?”

The angel answered, “God will be the Father of your special baby. Your Son will be called the Son of God.”

Scene 2: (Luke 2:8-12) Shepherds and the Angel 

When the time came for Mary’s baby to be born, there were shepherds out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (The angel stands in front of several shepherds who bow to the floor.) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, a bright light surrounded them, and they were frightened. (The shepherds sit on the floor, looking at the angel.) 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for everyone. Today in Bethlehem, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Scene 3: (Matthew 2:1-12) Wise Men and King Herod 

(Three wise men walk over to the king.) After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked King Herod, “Where is the One who has been born the King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” King Herod found out the exact time the star had appeared and sent the wise men to Bethlehem to find the child Jesus.

(Wise men leave the king and walk to the side of the room, pretending it is the house of Mary and Joseph.) The star they had seen in the east led them to Jesus’ house. On coming to the house, they saw the child Jesus with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him (wise men bow and kneel down). Then they presented Him with gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.

(Click on the image above to download 
the complete lesson.)

Also check out the other lessons for elementary children we've developed as part of our Online Bible Activity Lessons series. Each lesson is just $5.95. Save $1.00 per lesson when you order 10 or more lessons (use Coupon Code BACT10). Save even more when you order 25 lessons (with Coupon Code BACT25). You can print as many teacher's guides and activity sheets as you need so there's never any waste. 

We hope you enjoy sharing this lesson with your students. May God bless you and grant you a Christ-filled Christmas season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Five Steps to Creating a Stress-Free Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of celebration as we remember Jesus' birth and God's gift of love to us. However, the hectic pace can be overwhelming at times. With all the extra hassles and responsibilities for those of us involved in children's ministry, the Christmas season can seem like a flurry of activity. Here are few tips for creating a stress-free Christmas (or at least one that's not quite so stressFULL).
  1. Spend time with God. Don't give up your daily prayer and devotion time. Now's the time to fit in some extra moments with God, asking for His wisdom and guidance as the year comes to a close and you begin planning for next year. Your overflowing calendar combined with the hectic pace of the holidays can easily begin to encroach on your time the Lord. And Satan is more than pleased to see that happen. Instead, schedule extra time on your calendar for just you and God. Thank Him for sending His Son, Jesus and for all the blessings He has brought into your life.
  2. Plan time for family. During this busy season, when we're trying to fit in school, family, church, office, and neighborhood activities, it can be easy to go our separate ways as family members. So plan some family time—a weekly game night, dinners together, advent devotions, plus whatever additional activities your family enjoys doing together.
  3. Save time for yourself. As parents and ministry leaders, we can get in the habit of thinking and doing so much for others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Go for a walk or a run, enjoy a hot bath, read a short story, window shop, call a distant friend, sip a cup of peppermint green tea (or an espresso)—just take some time for you. Turn off your cell phone and place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your office door, if necessary. After a brief break, you'll be energized and refreshed to meet the tasks at hand.
  4. Enjoy the place where God has you planted. When we're tired and overworked (and dealing with broken microphones and torn costumes), it's easy to become grumpy and complaining. Ask God to help change your lousy attitude to one of gratitude. Thank the many volunteers and parents who work behind the scenes to help with the myriad of details that make your Christmas events possible. And be sure to thank your coworkers and church staff members (don't forget the custodians and pastors) who lend a hand all year long. 
  5. Thank God for each little one in your care. Cover each one in prayer during this Christmas season. And ask for prayer support from your coworkers and volunteers. Through the power of God's Holy Spirit working in you, enthusiasm and the love of Jesus will be felt by everyone you come into contact with this Christmas!