by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Later this week we’ll observe one of our nation’s most important holidays –Thanksgiving, a time for family gatherings and feasting. I think of it as the gateway to Christmas, for the very next Sunday many around the world begin their celebration of Advent. Your church family has probably created its own way of pointing to the birth of Jesus, traditionally with a circle of candles, and the first one will be lit this Sunday.
But wait! Before we get to Sunday many in North America will take part in a ritual called Black Friday. With their sumptuous dinners barely digested, millions around our nation will be lining up outside stores in the morning’s wee hours, waiting for doors to open to get at the extraordinary bargains inside. I call this mad dash to spend the festival honoring the deity, consumerism. Now that I’ve managed to offend some of my friends, let me assure you I understand that it’s considered by many who don’t buy much as a fun way to make happy memories, akin to when the whole family goes together to a game or concert.
I also want to go on record that I believe it is increasingly more difficult these days to find Jesus in Christmas. Seems like our Savior ranks a close third to Santa and Scrooge. Can our children find fresh devotion in the all too familiar Christmas stories from the Bible? I believe it’s possible, but I’m also convinced we will get no help from the secular world. In fact, we’ll need to prayerfully go counter-culture.
So let me offer some ideas to choose from and get your own creative juices going, even if it’s for small increments that you insert into the plans you’ve already made.
I call this – Tis the Season for Kids to Give!
- To get started this weekend, introduce Christina Rossetti’s poem, What Can I Give Him? Kids can easily memorize it to recite or to sing. I found lots of options for this on YouTube.
- Yet to come! We’ll provide three brief, fictional accounts of children who learned to give by serving, by sacrificing, by simple acts of kindness. The first one will come early next week for the second Sunday of Advent. Feel free to read them to your students or send copies with them to share at home.
- Make use of the opening scenes from The Story of Jesus for Children (jesusfilm.org) where children share the account of Jesus’ birth with one another. Charming…
- Most children have probably made their own wish list by now. Encourage them to start a second list of ways they can gift those they love…family members, friends and teachers. Where parents already take on this act of generosity, they can volunteer to be part of the effort, especially with teachers.
- Send a note to parents asking for their help. Invite them to share with you and others ways they keep Christ in Christmas.
- Your children may begin worship in the adult service this weekend. Some may even help light the Advent candle with their family. You can make your own classroom Advent wreath and incorporate this into your worship time, or quiet moments with God.
- Encourage older kids to read the passages about Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2 on their own and contribute to a discussion in class sharing things they discovered that they hadn’t known before their investigation.
- Create a bulletin board with the poem posted in the center. Students contribute their sketches of what they are doing to make this Christmas a personal season of giving.
- Send your ideas to me as a comment and I’ll share them with other readers in the coming weeks.
What can I give Him, young as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring him a lamb.
If I were a Wiseman, I would do my part.
What can I give Him? Give Him my heart.