Sharing the Christmas Story
C hristmas is significantly more than just a festive holiday for those who understand the true meaning of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, our world is overflowing with people who know only of the hustle and bustle, parties, Santa Claus and shopping. In some countries, the delight of honoring the birth of the eternal Savior is overshadowed or forgotten.
God gives Christian parents the responsibility to make clear to a child the real reason for gifts and celebrations at Christmas. Reading or telling the Christmas story to your children is invaluable because they learn much from their parents’ attitude and lifestyle throughout the holiday season. Start teaching the truths of Christ’s birth at an early age to help your child discern the valuable parts of the Christmas celebration.
Read the Story
1. A Savior King is Promised
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, andwill call him Immanuel.
2. The Angel Visits Mary
3. The Angel Visits Joseph
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
4. The Trip to Bethlehem and The Stable Lodging
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
5. The Christ Child is Born
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
6. The Angels Visit the Shepherds
7. The Shepherds Visit the Manger
8. The Wise Men Travel to Jerusalem
9. The Wise Men Worship the Christ Child
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
10. The Trip to Egypt
Discuss the Story
After telling a story, allow your preschool child to talk about what she has heard. Ask her questions.
- What is the name of Jesus’ mother?
- Who is Jesus’ Father?
- Where did God promise that the Savior King would be born?
Let her ask you questions. Talk about the characters in the story.
- What do you think the angel looked like?
- What kind of a person do you think Mary was?
- How did the wise men look?
Talk about what God did and what the people did. Letting your child talk about the story helps her remember it and helps you perceive what she has understood and what needs further clarification.
For older children:
- Ask questions concerning the response of individuals to the announcement of Jesus’ birth.
- Compare them with the response of individuals today.
- Include specific ways your family can be like the shepherds, the Magi, Mary and Joseph.
Sing Christmas Carols
Sing a different carol with each reading. After introducing several, allow your child to request and sing favorite ones with you. Talk about the words. Playing a recording of clearly sung pieces throughout Advent will help your child become familiar with and cherish the music of Christmas.
Planning a time to sing carols in the neighborhood will help reinforce the story of Christmas and give the opportunity to tell the good news to your neighbors.
Joy to the World
Choose a Time
Designate more than one time to teach your child about the first Christmas. You cannot expect to sit down one night, tell your child of the birth of Christ, kiss him good night and assume you have accomplished your aim. Such significant truth demands repetition and clarification over days, weeks, months and years. Select a time, such as after meals or at bedtime. Begin early in December, and establish a meaningful plan for sharing the Christmas narrative.
Plan the Content
Plan to take a number of times to cover the entire Christmas story from beginning to end. Divide the story into small parts. The younger your child, the smaller the parts should be.
Tell the Story
Using the suggested divisions and Scripture references, tell the Christmas story to your preschool child. Hold your Bible, or his, as you speak. Use words he can understand. Watch his expressions. Be factual, but make the story come alive. Use dialogue and descriptions, but be brief. Allow your school-age child to read aloud the story from the Bible to you. If you have preschool and school-age children, your older child may enjoy telling the story to the younger child.
Include Biblical Truths
As you read and tell the story, incorporate the biblical truths that you want your child to begin to understand and believe. Insert a truth in the story line, in the midst of an action sequence or after a descriptive scene rather than by lecturing before or after the story.
Read Aloud from Scripture
In addition to telling the Christmas story to your preschool child, it is extremely significant and appropriate to read portions of it to him from the Bible. Many parents who read Luke 2:1-20 daily throughout the Advent seasonare delighted to discover their children — young and old — have memorized the Scripture just by hearing it read.
As you talk about the true meaning of Christmas, introduce your child to the promise God made in Isaiah 9:6 and the record of the fulfillment of that promise in Luke 2:11. Whether you are able to read Scripture aloud together as a family or not, make every attempt to help your child memorize these two verses of Scripture — Isaiah 9:6 and Luke 2:11.
Repeat the Story
As with any good and favorite story, your child is likely to ask you to “tell it again.” Be ready to repeat this wonderful story. Take your time in the telling and retelling of each portion. Repetition is a tool for learning. Encourage your children of all ages to tell it to you or to tell parts of it to you. Let the beauty of the gift of Christmas be seen in the attitude you hold toward even the telling of the story.
Use Bible Story Books
Sometimes parents are reluctant to tell a story to their child because they feel self-conscious or unskilled as storytellers. Do not let this keep you from teaching your child about Christmas. There are many fine story Bibles with factual presentations of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ you can use. Read through the story prior to reading it to your child. If the truths you want to teach are not included, ask God to show you how and where to insert them. Pencil in the extra thoughts you plan to read. Begin with, “This is a story from the Bible,” then eagerly and enthusiastically read the story to your child.
Ask God to reveal the best way for you to begin this year to teach the truths of Christmas to your child. Telling (or reading) the Christmas story during the Advent season can become a tradition your children will anticipate and treasure as the years pass. Perhaps your entire family will be able to recite it together on Christmas morning as a gift to the Savior!