The Interrupted Nativity

By | December 12, 2014

Parents do you want to try something new this Christmas? Does your family like to act?  Check out the skit called The Interrupted Nativity by Stephen O’Rear.  What a fun way to explain the true meaning of Christmas.

 

 

CHARACTERS
Mary
Joseph
Baby (Jesus)
Shepherd
Sheep
Zadok, a guest at the inn
Cow

SCENE: The manger, early morning. MARY, JOSEPH, SHEPHERD and SHEEP gaze lovingly upon the BABY. Gently hum “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger” to help set a quiet Christmas mood.

Zadok: (shouting from outside) Bashan! Time to wake up, beautiful.

(ZADOK enters.)

Zadok: Oh, sorry. I didn’t know anyone else was up this early.

Joseph: That’s OK. It’s been a night full of surprises.

Shepherd: No kidding. I was out in the field, tending my sheep, when suddenly the sky filled with—

Zadok: (interrupts) I don’t mean to be rude, but I have a long journey ahead. I’m just here to pick up my cow and . . . (horrified) is that a baby?

Mary: His name is Jesus.

Zadok: Why did you put him in the feed trough?

Joseph: There was no room in the inn.

Zadok: No room in the inn for a newborn baby? I really ought to speak to the manager.

(SHEEP baas lazily.)

Zadok: (to SHEPHERD) You seem to be missing a few sheep there, shepherd.

Shepherd: As I was saying, I was out in the field, when—

Zadok: (interrupts again) I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but leaving your flock seems like a pretty shaky financial strategy.

Shepherd: (frustrated) Ugh, if you’d just—

Zadok: And speaking of missing animals, where is my cow? Bashan!

Cow: (offstage, lazily) Moo.

Zadok: Ah, there you are. (exits, cooing) Did you have a rough night with that baby hogging your feed trough?

Shepherd: I don’t get it. A star shines right above our heads, angels sing praises in the heavens and all he cares about is his cow.

(SHEEP baas.)

Shepherd: Oh, don’t start. You know there will never be a night like that ever again. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” Who could go back to work after hearing what the angel said?

(ZADOK returns, along with COW.)

Zadok: Well, I’m about ready to take off. Mazel tov, congratulations on the baby, you two.

Joseph: We’ll pray for your journey.

Zadok: Hey, since I’m leaving, there’s room in the inn now. You should get your child indoors; he doesn’t belong out here.

Shepherd: Yes, He does. This is exactly where He belongs.

Zadok: What do you mean?

Shepherd: The angel said, “You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” We were supposed to find Him here. God planned every detail!

Zadok: OK, but why do you need to be here? Why not just let this new mother get some sleep?

Shepherd: (uncertain) We came to worship.

Zadok: Hmmm. Well, come on, Bashan. We’ve got a long way to go.

(COW moos as they exit.)

Shepherd: (to JOSEPH AND MARY) He still doesn’t get it. How can you let him leave when he doesn’t see the truth that’s staring him in the face?

Joseph: Only God can open his eyes. He isn’t ready to understand what happened.

Shepherd: But the angels, the star . . .

Joseph: . . . were there for you. And the story you tell will be retold through the ages.

Mary: Who knows? There may come a time when he hears your story in some distant town and thinks back to this night.

Shepherd: And until then?

Joseph: We pray, we trust and we celebrate. For the Messiah has come!

(Hum the last two lines of “What Child Is This?” The scene goes silent as MARY, JOSEPH, SHEPHERD and SHEEP gaze at the BABY.)

12 Days of Christmas: Celebrate Christ with Your Family

By | December 11, 2014

December is often the busiest month of the year for families. Between school activities, holiday parties, church outreach events, and the pressure to find the perfect gift for each person on your list, it can be difficult to squeeze in quality family time.   We’ve pulled together 12 days’ worth of suggested Scripture readings and family activities that we hope will make things easier for you this season. Do them in order or spread them out; that part’s up to you, but make time to celebrate our wonderful Savior and the season of His birth.

 

 

Day 1. “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Family Activity: Watch “A Christmas Carol” and serve foods featured in various Christmas carols (figgy pudding, chestnuts, corn for popping, sugar plums, wassail).

Day 2. “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Family Activity: Call the grandparents, and sing them a Christmas carol.

Day 3. “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me. His origin is from antiquity, from eternity” (Micah 5:2).

Family Activity: Be a secret Santa to someone in need. Consider your neighbors, friends, and church members as people to whom your family should extend gifts or assistance.

Day 4. “Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus … The angel replied to her: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God'” (Luke 1:30-31,35).

Family Activity: Eat dinner in the car while you drive through your community looking at Christmas lights. For extra fun, make a scavenger hunt out of it by providing a list of items to look for such as a manger, reindeer, and snowmen.

Day 5. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: ˜You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me! She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!'” (Luke 1:41-45)

Family Activity: Drink hot chocolate while you bake cookies to share with neighbors.

Day 6. “And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy” (Luke 1:46-49).

Family Activity: Unroll the sleeping bags, and spend the night under the lights of your Christmas tree.

Day 7. “So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins'” (Matthew 1:19-21).

Family Activity: Write a note to a family member, and slip it in his or her stocking to be read on Christmas morning. Draw names so that all family members are sure to get a note.

Day 8. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant” (Luke 2:1-5).

Family Activity: Help each child make a gift for his or her teacher. Include handwritten notes from you and your child, a sweet treat, and a small gift card.

Day 9. “While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough – because there was no room for them at the lodging place” (Luke 2:6-7).

Family Activity: Using your Nativity set, ask your kids to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. If you’re feeling extra creative (and have enough family members), have everyone take a role and act out the nativity.

Day 10. “Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David'” (Luke 2:9-11).

Family Activity: Purchase small gifts to donate to a local shelter.

Day 11. “When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:15-18).

Family Activity: Flip through the Christmas cards you’ve received and pray over each family by name. Encourage your children to pray for anyone who is special to them.

Day 12. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’ … After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was – the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:1-2,9-11).

Family Activity: Make ornaments to represent the different parts of the Christmas story (such as a crown for the wise men), and discuss the importance each played in the birth of Jesus.

Fearless Conversation Means Fearlessly Letting Go

By | December 10, 2014

Letting go of the vision we have in our head is not always the easiest notion. After all, we have a grand plan of how things should be and look.

This holiday season, practicing fearless conversation can be the gift our children will love and never verbally thank us for. Inviting children to be a part of the Thanksgiving plans helps to empower them to take an active role in the family and feel like they are valued and heard. Allowing them to have a voice–and for us to really listen to what their ideas are–can start to build the foundation of confidant and expressive people.

Super easy, right? (We know, it’s not always as easy as it sounds!) Start with something you’re comfortable with and go from there. Parenting can bring up the control freak in us and that’s not only debilitating, but spills over and shapes our babies. Are we willing to make a shift and enjoy the holidays in a new a way or do we choose to hold on to our old paradigms in order for everything to be clean and tidy?

Most kids have an opinion are so excited when asked what they want! Before we engage our children and let them go hog wild with ideas, think about these tips on loving boldly by practicing fearless conversation with your kids:

  • Let go of your agenda
  • Love first, love always- yourself included
  • Be OK with messy
  • REALLY Listen (don’t just listen while mentally crafting a response)
  • Follow through with promises

 

May the voice that whispers inside your head — as well as the voice that exits your lips be one of truth, peace and grace. And may your doubts and fears be silenced by the comfort that you are a precious, beloved child of God, now and always.

Being Missional during Christmas

By | December 5, 2014

Christmas is approaching!   How will your family being missional this year?

Here are few ideas to be a mission-minded family during the Christmas season.  Maybe one of the ideas below will be workable for you and your family

  1. Open your home:  Invite neighbors, families from your children’s schools, people you work with — really anyone who needs to be around a family that lives the gospel. Intentionally pray over these invitations to your home and involve your children in your hospitality efforts, such as decorating, baking, and preparing meals. Model how to show others the love of Jesus. Your children are watching!
  2.  Serve:  Find opportunities to serve as a family in environments that allow your hearts for Christ to shine. This could be a soup kitchen, a nursing home, a shelter — anywhere there is need. Make this not only a tradition during the holidays, but a regular rhythm in your lives.
  3.  Pray for opportunities: As 2014 is closing and the start of a new year is looming around the corner, pray as a family that God would open the door for many opportunities to share the gospel with those who do not know Him. Actively pray for people you know and for those you do not know yet. Engage your children in these prayers and before you know it, God will ignite in them a heart for others.

 

Please share other ideas you may have for being a missional family during Christmas!

5 Christmas Projects for Your Family

By | December 4, 2014

As Christmas approaches, our kids are constantly bombarded with TV commercials, newspaper ads, flyers and store displays shouting the message of what they “must” see and “need” to get for Christmas. It’s easy to understand how the true meaning of Christmas can get lost in all the commercialism and pageantry. So how do we get it back? How do we make sure that Jesus is the focus in our own home? Remind your kids of how God loved us so much that He gave the gift of His One and Only Son to live with us here on earth, to share His love and ultimately pay the sacrifice on our behalf. (And might I add – remind them all year long – not just at Christmas!) Help them understand that while Christmas is about a gift, it’s about sharing that gift with others.

Here are five ideas to help bring back the focus on showing His great love to the world.

  1. Enlist your kids in the “Secret Service” during the Holidays. Whether for neighbors, friends or a list of senior adults from your church, find ways that your kids can be a blessing to those around them.  Assign a task, but make sure they do it secretly so that the recipient doesn’t know! Leave a card with a message:  “Merry Christmas! Jesus loves you and so do we!”
  2. In similar fashion, assign each family member another family member’s name and encourage them to quietly perform a good deed for that person. Each time a task is completed, the person gets to place a piece of straw on the manger to help create a soft bed for Jesus.
  3. Create a Christmas chain with a link for each day until December 25. On each link, print a service project for the family to complete that day. Suggestions might include raking leaves for a neighbor, helping bake cookies to give away, or paying forward a hot chocolate at a local coffee shop.
  4. Load up the family and surprise someone by decorating their home for Christmas.
  5. Choose a family in need and celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas by secretly leaving a gift or gifts at their doorstep each day. Include a note about the meaning behind each of the original gifts in the song.

 

At the end of each of these busy days, circle up the kids and have a family devotion time. Read scriptures that focus on the Christmas story and discuss how the actions of the day shared the love of Christ with others.

Please share with us the ways that your family will be showing the love of Christ this Christmas!

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