Christmas Ideas

Ideas for Christmas

Bible Reading Options

  1. Starting on December 1, read through the Gospel of Luke, one chapter a day. There are 24 chapters so you will finish on Christmas Eve.
  2. If you only have one or two opportunities- Read Luke 1:26-38 on Christmas Eve and Luke 2:1-14 on Christmas morning.
  3. Bring family and friends to the Mambrino Baptist Church candlelight service on December 22 at 6 pm. Selections from the Old and New Testaments are read with hymns and carols telling the story of redemption. You can then use the readings to follow up and talk with others about the gospel.

Traditions

  1. Jesse Tree ornaments, Advent guide, and Advent candles
  2. Buy your child an ornament that represents an accomplishment or trip for that year. Eventually, you will have a record book of your child’s life to be celebrated and remembered each year at Christmas.
  3. Find a family book that will become your family’s Christmas tradition. Having a grandfather or grandmother read the story can be a good way to get the generations together in one room.
    1. Woyciechowski, Susan. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is a fictional story about a widower whose heart is softened as he carves a nativity scene.
  4. Saint Nicolaus Day- tell the story on December 6 and have the children put out a sock before bed. Put money in the sock overnight (some people add chocolate coins) and then decide as a family who to help with the money. Give the gift anonymously.
  5. Get your family and friends together and go caroling to neighbors. Especially be on the look out for elderly neighbors and use caroling as a way to get to know your neighbors and then follow up with an invite to a meal and gospel conversation at your home.

Resources

  • Piper, Noel. Treasuring God in Our Traditions
    • Best overall book helping us think through traditions from daily routines to birthday and Christmas to Easter.
  • For Adults
    • Ask, Christopher. Repeat the Sounding Joy: A Daily Advent Devotional on Luke 1-2
      • Daily advent devotional working through all of Luke chapters 1 and 2. Well suited for an adult. Suggested verse of a song and prayer with room to journal.
    • Collins, Ace. Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas
      • An interesting read for the person interested in history and songs (both Christmas hymns and popular Christmas songs).
    • Ferguson, Sinclair B. Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent
      • Solid devotional for an individual with reflection and prayer. A family used to longer daily readings could use this in family worship.
    • Gant, Andrew. The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs
      • Another interesting read for the history and music lover with some detail about music theory.
    • Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ
      • Apologetic of Christmas explaining why Christmas matters. Classic Keller form in which he engages culture with the truth. For the seeker or reader in your family.
    • Lambert, Dean Meador. The Advent Jesse Tree
      • Meador does a good job making connections to Christ. This Advent Jesse Tree includes child and adult readings for each day as well as suggested hymns, scripture readings, and prayers. Ornaments available through http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com
    • Piper, John. The Dawning of Indistructible Joy
      • Shorter daily Advent readings well suited for the coffee table or for the person who likes to sit in the living room at night by Christmas tree light
    • Tripp, Paul David. Come Let Us Adore Him
      • Longer daily readings best suited for the individual
  • For Families with Older Grade School Children
    • Light in the Darkness
      • The full text of Luke 1-2 as a graphic novel
    • Ciuciu, Asheritah. Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional
      • Written for use with Advent candles (4 readings to start each week of Advent) then daily readings. Discussion questions, suggested activities, prayers, and additional readings provided.
    • Guthrie, Nancy. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
      • Daily family devotion with discussion questions, suggested prayers, and a place to journal. Could be used with an Advent candle but was written as a stand alone devotion.
    • Ytreeide, Arnold. Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent
      • A long Advent candle chapter book that starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. Minimum of 15 minutes a day to read each chapter. Parents will want to read ahead to screen content for younger children.
  • For Families with Grade School Children
    • Lambert, Dean Meador. The Advent Jesse Tree
      • Meador does a good job making connections to Christ. This Advent Jesse Tree includes child and adult readings for each day as well as suggested hymns, scripture readings, and prayers. Ornaments available through halfahundredacrewood.com
    • Pawlak, Katie. God with Us: A Family Advent Celebration
      • Will need some theological clarification. One of the best set of ornaments with color copies provided in the book and felt or wooden ornaments available online. Few Christ-connections in the first half. Lambert’s advent guide is stronger but Pawlak’s ornaments are more attractive.
    • Reaoch, Barbara. A Jesus Christmas: Explore God’s Amazing Plan for Christmas
      • Great for Advent candles or stand alone family devotion. Daily readings, discussion questions, prayer, and room for doodling or journaling.
  • For Toddlers
    • James, Scott. The Littlest Watchman
      • Three resources available here. The Family Devotions and Advent Calendar would be a good start to the Advent tradition. Readings and talks are short. The calendar is made to be opened and small cards punched out to hang on an advent tree or banner. The book The Littlest Watchman is a fictional story that could be used to start advent each year.
    • Mitchell, Alison. The Christmas Promise
      • Simple board book with advent stickers sold separately. A good introduction to the tradition of Advent
    • Thornborough, Tim. A Very Noisy Christmas
      • Simple Christmas story for children ages 5 and below.

For those who sew

  • James, Darcy. Let’s Make a Jesse Tree!
    • Guide for making felt ornaments or pieces for a quilt. Devotions are meager and seashell is used for baptism.

You can skip these resources

  • McCaughrean, Geraldine. The Jesse Tree
  • Marcellino, Kathryn. Jesse Tree Ornaments: Advent Coloring Activities and Craft Projects
    • Roman Catholic
  • Voskamp, Ann. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas
    • Beautifully done but the devotions are strange (Noah’s flood was God’s tears, human hearts are leaning away from God, and confuses covenant with Abraham). Weak on Christ-connections.

Study/Discuss Proverbs 9

  1. Looking at verses 10-11 and 18, what is the difference between wisdom and folly?
  2. Looking at verses 4 and 6, what is similar about wisdom and folly?
  3. In what ways are you tempted by foolish thinking or foolish things?
  4. Looking at verses 2 and 5, why is gaining wisdom like eating a good meal?
  5. Looking at verses 7-9, what is the difference between a wise person and a scoffer?
  6. How do you usually respond to correction?
  7. Looking at verse 10, what is the fear of the Lord?
  8. Looking at verse 10, why is knowledge of God insight? How does knowing God help you understand yourself and the world?

Prayer

  1. What can we praise God for in this passage? What does God reveal about himself in these verses?
  2. What can we thank God for in this passage? What has God done for us?
  3. What sin does this passage call you to confess?
  4. Who needs these truths you have seen? Pray for someone else.

Get Ready for Sunday

get-ready

Here are some guidelines we use to make the most out of Sundays.

  1. Make a plan. We’re working on that right now. So, good job!
  2. Be diligent and flexible with your plan. Things will get crazy and get in the way. Gracious persistence will be needed.
  3. Make the Amazon playlist for tomorrow the background music of your day. Introduce the songs. Talk about preferences. Talk about why these songs matter. We post the playlist on Facebook. Check out @MambrinoBaptist,
  4. Before bedtime do two things to ease the stress of Sunday. Plan breakfast and lay out clothes for Sunday from shoes and socks to bow-ties and hair bows.
  5. Finally, gather up to read the sermon text, sing one of the songs for Sunday, and pray for Sunday school teachers and pastors. The sermon text for 11/18 is Romans 16:17-20.

Christmas Eve & Morning Celebration

By Paul Duncan, pastor Mambrino Baptist Church

The following is a set of quick readings and visuals to help your family understand and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This post is set up for longer readings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. Tomorrow I’ll divide the readings up between three days.

Christmas Eve

Reader 1: Tonight on Christmas Eve we remember that God’s timing is perfect- Galatians 3:4

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a watch in the center of the table

Reader 2: God promised Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would crush the Serpent’s head- Genesis 3:15

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a hammer in the center of the table

 Reader 3: The prophet Micah said the Ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem- Micah 5:2

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a dress-up crown into the center of the table or you could have a child make one out of paper in preparation for this night.

Reader 4: The prophet Isaiah said that the people who lived in deep darkness would see a great light- Isaiah 9:2

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a battery-operated candle or flashlight in the center of the table

Reader 1: Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and Joseph took Mary to be his wife- Matthew 1:18, 24

All: Jesus is coming!

Place a wedding ring in the center of the table (a piece of costume jewelry works well)

R2: You shall call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins- Matthew 1:21

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a cross in the center of the table

Reader 3: Zechariah the priest said that God will raise up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David- Luke 1:69

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a horn in the center of the table

Reader 4: So Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem- Luke 2:4

ALL: Jesus is coming!

Place a nativity scene in the center of the table but hold out baby Jesus, the angel, the shepherds, and the wise men

Dad or Grandad: Pray for your family asking that God would help everyone to understand the great blessing of Christmas.

Sing: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, hymn 76 in the Baptist Hymnal or you can find a good version on Youtube.

*Leave all the items on the table because you will add to them Christmas morning
Christmas Morning Celebration

Christmas Morning

Reader 1: While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem the time came for Mary to give birth and Jesus was born- Luke 2:6-7

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place baby Jesus in the nativity

Reader 2: An angel appeared to shepherds and said, “I bring you good news of great joy because Christ the Lord has been born in the city of David- Luke 2:10-11

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place the shepherds at the nativity

Reader 3: Then an army of angels appeared and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth”- Luke 2:12

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place the angel at the nativity

Reader 4: When the wise men saw the child they worshipped him and gave him gifts- Matthew 2:11

ALL: Jesus is here!

Place the wise men at the nativity

 Dad or Grandfather: The two most important times of the year are Christmas and Easter. At Christmas we celebrate the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, has come. At Easter we celebrate the fact that Jesus, our Savior, died on the cross for our sins and three days later rose again. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” The greatest gift we could ever receive is the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate the fact that our Savior Jesus Christ has come, he has rescued us, and one day soon He’s coming again.

Sing: Joy the World! The Lord has Come, hymn 87 in the Baptist Hymnal or you can find a good version on Youtube.

Pray: have one of the children pray and thank God for sending Jesus

 

Note to parents or grandparents

I change the actual scripts before printing and put in the names of the people who will be reading, this way it is much less confusing. If kids are constantly asking, “What number am I?” it can be a distraction. If you have children who aren’t reading yet you can work with them to memorize their parts or simply include them in the statements that everyone will make.

I want to leave it up to you to decide who puts the items in the center of the table or in the center of the room if you have more people than places at the table. The person reading can place the item, or an adult can place all the items at the appropriate time. Use your better judgment concerning the ability of the children to do this without getting distracted or fighting over who gets to hold the item.

I plan to do the Christmas Eve celebration just before bed (after pajamas are on and teeth have been brushed) and then do the Christmas morning celebration first thing in the morning (if you have an early riser who likes to eat and might get fussy go ahead and give him/her a snack).

 

Items you will need for the Christmas Eve celebration

  • Watch or clock
  • Hammer
  • Dress up or paper crown
  • Battery operated candle or flashlight
  • Wedding ring
  • Cross
  • Horn
  • Nativity scene minus Jesus, angel, shepherds, and wise men

 

Items you will need for the Christmas morning celebration

  • Jesus for nativity scene
  • Shepherds for nativity scene
  • Angel for nativity scene
  • Wise men for nativity scene

Discuss 1 Peter 1:3

  1. This week we will be praising God for all the benefits we gain from Jesus’ resurrection. Read 1 Peter 1:3-12. Discuss the main points of these verses.
  2. Looking at 1 Peter 1:3, why should we praise God? Sing the Doxology.
  3. Why does God cause people to be born again? Do people deserve grace or does God mercifully give grace? Listen to the song, “It’s Your Grace” by Sovereign Grace Music.
  4. What is a Christian “born again to”? What is the source of this living hope?
  5. Who do you know that needs to know this living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Spend time praying for God to cause them to born again.
  6. There is a direct connection between experiencing hope and believing Jesus was raised from the grave. Talk about the ways the resurrection gives hope.
  7. 1 Peter 1:4 shows us our hope. How do our inheritance and God’s power cause us to rejoice?

Philippians 3:8-9 Questions

Philippians 3:8b–9

8b For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

  1. What ways did Paul “suffer the loss” of his religious heritage?
  2. How have you or those you love suffered loss for Christ’s sake?
  3. Can you identify two kinds of righteousness talked about in verse 9? What makes them different?
  4. How do we receive the second kind of righteousness, “the righteousness from God”?
  5. God wants us to do the right thing and obey God’s laws. How is trying to do the right thing different than putting our confidence in a “righteousness of [our] own”?
  6. Who is the only one to do everything right and obey God’s laws perfectly? What does His obedience have to do with what Paul calls “the righteousness from God”?
  7. How does trusting in our own righteousness treat Christ’s righteousness like rubbish?

Philippians 3:7-8a Discussion Questions

Philippians 3:7–8a

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8a Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

  1. Review the good things Paul gained in the previous verses (Phil. 3:5–6). Was there anything good about those things? In what ways were they good?
  2. How can gaining something turn out to be a loss? Can you think of any examples where getting something good could end up in bad results?
  3. Why did Paul consider the good religious heritage he had gained as a loss?
  4. What good religious things are you tempted to put your confidence in instead of putting your confidence in Christ? / What are good things that tempt you to be confident in them instead of being confident in Christ?
  5. If you added together every good thing in all of creation, would that be a greater value than knowing Jesus? (consider Mark 8:34–38)
  6. What is so valuable about knowing Christ?
  7. How will people know that Jesus is more valuable to you than anything else?