Christmas

Mangerside Reflections

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, let's take time to consider some of the people who saw this story unfold firsthand.

Mary was intimately connected with this event. Jesus was born to her in a humble stable. Her willingness to let God work wonders through her life was truly inspiring.

Joseph may have been a little confused by the whole thing! Engaged to be married, he was shocked to find Mary was pregnant before their wedding day. Faced with a difficult decision, Joseph stepped up to the plate to help raise this child after a little heavenly intervention.

The shepherds were nothing special. These dirty, flea-bitten dregs of society found themselves in the presence of a mighty host of angels. Imagine their surprise when they discovered they would be the first among men to bear witness to the coming of the Messiah.

Wise men from the east saw a star in the sky that signified a spectacular event had taken place. Traveling from far away, they set out seeking the one true King. They brought their best gifts to give to a Savior they had not yet encountered.

Prayer and Giving Dovetail

My earliest Christmas memories revolve around church life. I remember spending hours practicing lines for Christmas pageants. All children were in the productions. I don’t recall it being optional. Afterward we would exchange gifts in our small country church. Before leaving, my dad would lead the congregation to sing “Away in a Manger.” The number of words and verses would depend on the status of our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal. Hopefully by our Christmas celebration, the target would be met. Christmas lights poking through a homemade wooden board lit up the song.

The best was yet to come. Everyone was given a brown paper lunch sack filled with goodness on his or her way out the door. The gift bag always contained a handful of peanuts, a few old-fashioned creams, an orange, and some hard candy. The Baptist Sunday School Board may have produced literature about how to pack the treats, because many my age remember receiving the same gift bags at their churches.

10 Ways to Use Your College Break to Reach Others for Christ

Your car is packed, the fridge is empty, and you’re longing to turn in that last paper so you can finally head home for Christmas. But don’t leave your passion for missions behind with your books. As you prepare to make the trek home for some much-needed rest and home-cooked meals, consider these opportunities that await you in between semesters:

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We say that, don’t we? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We sing it, too. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Toys in every store.” What do we mean when we use this phrase? Are we referring to the décor and music and characters that fill our mantles, living rooms, and malls, and TVs during this time of the year? “We put up our tree, it sure is beginning to look like Christmas around here?” “We took the kids to the mall to see Santa. It sure is starting to feel like Christmas.”

Is it December snow that causes it to feel like Christmas? What if the only snow you get in your part of the world is the kind you sing about? If it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, what did the first Christmas look like? How do we know it’s really beginning to look like Christmas? Because the days of the calendar are slipping by one by one until we reach the end of December? Certainly the first Christmas wasn’t filled with shopping malls and reindeer and mad scurrying with long lists of gifts to purchase and groceries to buy.

The Unsuspecting Father

The Christmas season is full of amazing stories. Each year, we roll out the old favorites to tell and retell in growing anticipation of the Big Day. But of these Christmas favorites there is one story which always seems to leave me scratching my head in wonder year after year.

Through the Gospel of Matthew, we receive a unique recollection of the Christmas story through the eyes of an unsuspecting father. Joseph was a regular guy. Part of a family tree with roots firmly planted in his native soil, he had his own feet firmly planted on the ground. Joseph must have brought in a dependable income from his talents as a craftsman given his status as an expectant groom. Sturdy, stable, dependable, grounded. These are a few words I would use to describe the man about to take Mary as his bride.

Add a Little Christmas to Your Life

Shopping. Partying at school. Cooking. Wrapping. Baking. Decorating. Traveling. Getting together with friends. And that doesn’t even include the church activities, choir programs and special Christmas services.

It feels like time speeds up between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we move at a faster pace through the month of December, trying to do all we feel like we are “supposed to do” at this time of the year.

Added to our attempts to juggle all of the extra activities and events and responsibilities that Christmastime brings, we also must continue our regular tasks of going to work or school, buying groceries, doing laundry, and running the children from this lesson to that activity. No wonder it feels like everything is moving at warp speed to the point that when the New Year comes our December feels like a blur and we long for time to rest.

The True Meaning of Christmas

child and Nativity

What parts of Christmas do we bring into our Mission Friends classrooms at church? There are so many aspects to celebrating Christmas: shopping, gifts, cookies, candies, parties, ornaments, decorations, trees, lights, Santa, elves, snowmen, and greeting cards. There is such cuteness revolving around these aspects of Christmas, it can be easy to leave out the very meaning of Christmas. How do we focus on celebrating that God sent His Son, Jesus? How do we include some of the fun aspects of Christmas while teaching preschoolers about Jesus’ birth? The points below give suggestions for being intentional about teaching preschoolers the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Tell parts of the Christmas story from Luke 2:1–20 during each session. Look for preschool books that tell the true story. I even found a board book at a discount store that told the Christmas story in simple words.

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