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Christmas Story

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Tells the Christmas story for an audience (e.g., pre-teens) who have heard it all before, know it inside-out and don't want to hear it again.

Tells the Christmas story for an audience (e.g., pre-teens) who have heard it all before, know it inside-out and don't want to hear it again.

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  • 1. Do You Know the Christmas Story?
  • 2. Matthew 1:18–19 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about.   Mary was legally married to Joseph, but before they began living together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
  • 3. It Begins with a Wedding… Nowadays the two parts of a wedding happen on the same day. First the couple go to church to sign the legal documents. Then they hold a party to celebrate their marriage.
  • 4. …An Incomplete Wedding In the time of Mary and Joseph, people often signed the legal documents a whole year before holding the wedding party. The couple were legally married as soon as they had signed the papers. But the usual custom was not to live together until the day of the party.
  • 5. ‘You’re WHAT?’ Mary became pregnant while she and Joseph were in their year of waiting. People didn’t think they had broken a big rule. But it was certainly assumed that they had broken a small one. One person who thought differently was … JOSEPH.
  • 6. Was it REALLY a Virgin Birth? Joseph knew that he hadn’t broken any rules! But would you just believe it if a pregnant girl told you that she was still a virgin? Or would you think she was lying about something? Joseph wasn’t stupid. He didn’t believe Mary’s story! Don’t believe ANYTHING uncritically. It’s unscientific!
  • 7. What was Joseph Thinking? She’s broken a really BIG rule. Does she love someone else? Is she a bad girl? Has she gone mad? Will the local fanatics try to hurt her? What should I DO about this?
  • 8. Matthew 1:20–21 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because her child is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
  • 9. Matthew 1:24–25a When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him. He took Mary home as his wife. But he did not sleep with her until she gave birth to a son.
  • 10. The Good Stepfather Why do you think Joseph did things this way? Why did he marry Mary at all? Why did he not sleep with her?
  • 11. Luke 2:1–3 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 Quirinus was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.  
  • 12. What was the Emperor Thinking? Who was Augustus? Who was Quirinus? A census means ‘counting people’. Why do you think Augustus wanted to count people? Why do you think people had to return to their original towns?
  • 13. Luke 2:4–5 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was legally married to him and was pregnant.
  • 14. Was there REALLY a Little Donkey? The Christmas cards usually show Mary riding on a donkey. But the Bible doesn’t mention any donkey, and Joseph was a poor man. It’s possible that they had to walk all the way. The journey was about 70 miles.
  • 15. Luke 2:5–7 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 room for them in the house.
  • 16. A House with a Stable The house would have been built with two storeys. The upper storey was for the humans, while the ground floor was the stable for the animals.
  • 17. Was there REALLY No Room at the Inn? We are used to the idea that Joseph wanted to stay at an ‘inn’. But in fact the Bible just uses the ordinary word for ‘house’. In which house was there ‘no room’? Since Bethlehem was Joseph’s home town, he probably had family still living there. It might have been his own relatives who lent him their stable!
  • 18. What were the Neighbours Thinking? It seems odd that a girl who was going into labour would be shunted off to the stable. Couldn’t someone inside the house have made room for her? There may have been a social prejudice at work here. After all, it was obvious that she had been pregnant for nine months, but the family would have known that she had only been living with Joseph for five!
  • 19. Salvation in the Feeding Trough ‘Wrapped in cloths’ was the usual custom. Parents believed that a child’s limbs would grow crooked unless the baby was very tightly bound. ‘Laid him in the manger’ was definitely not usual. Would you lay your baby in the dog’s dish? Well, you might if you had nowhere else!
  • 20. Luke 2:8–9 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
  • 21. Was the Angel REALLY Glitter-Pretty? Why is it so terrifying to see an angel? I don’t know, because I’ve never seen one. But whenever an angel appears to a human, his first words are always, ‘Fear not!’ How does this match the average Christmas-tree angel?
  • 22. Would You Trust a Shepherd? Shepherds were the dregs of society. Because the farmer was too busy to supervise them, shepherds could often get away with being lazy. Because they were poorly paid, they often stole off the farmer. Everyone knew you couldn’t trust a shepherd. It was like trusting a used-car salesman. Why were shepherds the first ones to be told that the Messiah had arrived?
  • 23. Luke 2:10–12 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah and the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
  • 24. What were the Prophets Thinking? Why is Bethlehem the ‘town of David’? How did the Jews know that the Messiah would be born there? (See Micah 5:2.) Why did the angel need to give the shepherds a ‘sign’?
  • 25. Luke 2:13–14 Look carefully at the angels’ song. How are the words different from what you read on the average Christmas card? Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,   ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to his favoured people.’
  • 26. Was it REALLY ‘Peace to All Mankind’? They did not sing: ‘Peace to all mankind,’ But: ‘Peace to God’s favoured people.’ What difference does this make? Who are God’s favoured people?
  • 27. Whose Favourite are YOU? What does peace mean? Which ‘war’ was being ended? Why is the war only over for God’s favourites and not for everyone? Why were the shepherds happy? How can you be sure that you are one of God’s favourites?
  • 28. Luke 2:15–16 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
  • 29. What were the Shepherds Thinking? The shepherds could have said: ‘Well, that’s nice. One day I’ll tell my grandchildren that I saw a real angel. Now hand over another lentilburger!’ But they didn’t. They hurried off to visit this new Messiah. What is your reaction to knowing that the Messiah has come?
  • 30. Luke 2:17–20 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
  • 31. What REALLY Happened Next? Here’s a part of the story that the average Nativity play leaves out. The shepherds ran all over the Bethlehem region to tell people about the Messiah. This part might not make such a cute school play. Do people really want the good news to be broadcast through multicultural Britain?
  • 32. How Far to the Temple? Well, here’s a part of the story that’s even less theatrical. It happened about six weeks later, so Mary and Joseph were quite likely out of the stable by now. There’s no cinema value at all.
  • 33. Luke 2:25–27a Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus…
  • 34. Luke 2:28–32 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:   ’Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’
  • 35. What was Simeon Thinking? How do you think Simeon recognised this baby as the special one? We don’t know. But Simeon knew the Scriptures, so he had had plenty of clues to expect the Messiah to be born around now. Do you know of any Old Testament prophecies that point to Jesus?
  • 36. Luke 2:33–35 The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
  • 37. Why was Jesus REALLY Born? How did Simeon’s prophecy come true? Does it spoil the spirit of Christmas to think too hard about that? Never mind, let’s return to the subject of presents and Nativity shows…
  • 38. Matthew 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judaea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem…
  • 39. Were there REALLY Three Wise Men? ‘Magi’ were officials in the service of the King of Persia. Kings? No, only a King’s servants. Three of them? The Bible doesn’t tell us the number. There might have been a whole convention of them. Wise men? We know of one very UNwise thing they were doing. Phraates IV was King of Persia at the time Jesus was born.
  • 40. What were the Magi Thinking? They took advice from the stars. That’s right, they calculated their horoscopes, then acted accordingly! The Bible warns us again and again not to waste our time doing this. But the Magi had never read the Scriptures. Since they almost certainly followed the Zoroastrian religion, they didn’t know any better.
  • 41. What on Earth was GOD Thinking? What do you think of God’s choice of people who would meet the Messiah first? First a gang of shepherds (usedcar salesmen). Then an old man who was about to die. Then a convention of astrologers (New Age pagans)?
  • 42. Was there REALLY a Star? The Magi had some completely wrong ideas about how to understand the universe. Yet God used these wrong ideas to lead them to the Messiah. There is hope for even the most wrongheaded people. God wants to give everyone a chance to be rescued!
  • 43. Luke 2:2 … and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’
  • 44. Was King Herod REALLY Evil? This was an unwise thing to say to King Herod. He thought of HIMSELF as King of the Jews. Any newborn King ought to be a member of his own family! Most of the Jews disliked Herod because they didn’t think of him as a ‘real’ Jew. His ancestors were foreigners who had converted to Judaism. But Herod’s conversion wasn’t very sincere. He had already murdered five members of his own family.
  • 45. Where was the Baby? There were no newborns in Herod’s family, but there were people who wanted to push Herod off the throne. How do you think Herod felt about the fact that these strangers were looking for a NEW King? Why had the Magi come looking for the Prince in a palace?
  • 46. Luke 2:3–4 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
  • 47. Luke 2:5–6 ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:   ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ [Micah 5:2]  
  • 48. Luke 2:7–8 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’  
  • 49. What was King Herod Thinking? Herod was lying, of course. Did he really plan to WORSHIP the new King? But the Magi didn’t know this. They were foreigners who hadn’t checked out Herod’s history. What’s more, their oh-so-amazing horoscopes hadn’t warned them about Herod either. How naïve!
  • 50. Luke 2:9–10 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
  • 51. Luke 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
  • 52. Christmas Means Presents… Gold is for kings. Incense is a kind of perfume that priests burned to the gods. Myrrh was used in medicine – it was for someone who was only too human.
  • 53. …God’s Present to Us They may not have not done it deliberately, but these unwise Magi had managed to convey some profound truths after all! Jesus is fully human. He is qualified to represent the human race. Jesus is fully God. His actions are the acts of God. Jesus is always King to His favoured people.
  • 54. Luke 2:12–13 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.   When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’
  • 55. God’s Plan Will Triumph Herod was evil and paranoid, but he was no match for God’s plans. The Magi were warned – and so was Joseph.
  • 56. Luke 2:14–15 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet:   Out of Egypt I called my son. [Hosea 11:1]
  • 57. What were the Egyptians Thinking? Do you think it odd that Joseph had to take Jesus to Egypt? Egypt was the land of slavery, from which God had long ago rescued His chosen people. Now it was the place of safety. All the old ways of looking at the world had been turned upside down.
  • 58. What is the World Thinking this Christmas? Christmas is a popular festival because everyone likes the idea of Baby Jesus being born in a stable. There are stars, angels, costly gifts, humble shepherds – sometimes even a little donkey. We know we wouldn’t be like King Herod. We want to wish Baby Jesus a happy birthday.
  • 59. What are YOU Thinking? Easter is a much less popular festival. We’d rather forget what we did to Jesus when He grew up.
  • 60. John 1:14,12 The Word became human and lived among us. To everyone who accepted Him, to those who trusted in His name, he gave the right to become children of God!

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