By Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ At Heart International
Here’s a post script to our December’s Journeys to Bethlehem. One final trip with Joseph and Mary, along with the Infant Jesus, but this time to Jerusalem.
If your tree is still up, gather the family around with your Bibles open to Luke 2:21-38. Take time to pray together; thank the Heavenly Father for His amazing Gift…perhaps thank Him for some of the gifts you received last week. And don’t forget the people you blessed along the way in these journeys. (You might run across the cards you wrote their names on.)
Read the first part of this passage in Luke as a ‘readers theater’ letting three people take the roles of the narrator, of Simeon, and of Anna. Maybe give reading assignments from the last paragraphs of this Scripture portion, too, as it’s a long one.
Joseph and Mary’s trip to the Temple fulfills their religious duty to name the baby Jesus and to make a sacrifice for Mary’s healing from the physical challenges of giving birth. Here, two final messengers announce the identity of the Infant King as the long awaited Messiah.
Following angels’ private visits and public heralding of the advent of the Messiah, these announcements came from very different messengers. Note it was not the Temple’s religious leaders or anyone else of spiritual or political importance who welcomed the parents and their Holy Child. That’s probably just as well. Remember King Herod wanted to do away with Jesus.
Running through this account, you may note two threads of information. What does this story contain that helps you understand God’s spiritual realm? What insights does it give into our human condition? Divide your family group into two teams and let each team make a list of one or the other of these two, and then, share with one another.
Who stood to gain the most from this encounter? You might argue that it was the two very elderly ‘messengers,’ or you might feel that it was Jesus’s parents. Share your reasons for what you think.
Certainly there were common people, bystanders, who witnessed these scenes and heard what Simeon and Anna had to say. I think, though, that these encounters were included in Luke’s account because he realized how wonderfully the two elderly people blessed Mary and Joseph. Their confirmation of the Baby’s true identity surely prepared the parents for the dangerous journey to Egypt as much as the material provision of the Wise Men.
IDEAS TO CHOOSE FROM FOR A NEW YEAR ADVENTURE
- This passage from Luke’s Gospel probably led to fairly mature discussion. Why not let your older children come up with ways to tell this story that their younger siblings can better understand.
- We can all think about the importance of documenting Who the Baby Jesus really was, and Who He was destined to become. It was not the Infant who died on the cross so that we might have our sins forgiven. But it is of value that we know how Jesus’s earthly existence began. He did not appear on the human scene in a puff of smoke as some magician might. He was very God in human form and His life began as it does for all of us, as an infant in his mother’s arms. Encourage each member of your family to record in written form, or by drawing a picture, what it means to him or her that Jesus came to earth as an infant and grew up through childhood even as we do.
- Can you, as a family, identify an elderly person who is important in your life? It could be a grandparent, or someone at church whom you respect for the wisdom long years of life has given them. If you don’t know anyone who fits this description, why not seek out an elderly person and adopt him or her for the coming year, finding ways to share your everyday life, letting them know how much Jesus loves them?
- A personal note: I cannot look back and describe what happened to me for every Christmas time of my long life. I do retain vivid memories of some Christmases – when I was four, when I was 16, when I was 23 and when I was 34 to name a few. These particular Decembers provided some unusual events upon which I can hang my memories.
As you take down the Christmas decorations and store them somewhere until next December, why not encourage some family members to create a ‘memory capsule’ of this year end’s events and store this away, too. You could use this to start your ‘Travel to Bethlehem’ again next December.
New Year Blessings to All!