Immanuel - "God with Us"
Another name for Jesus is "Immanuel," which means "God with us."
Bake a birthday cake for Jesus. Put an almond or some other nut in the batter. Put candles on the cake and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus on Christmas day. Give a small prize to the one who gets the piece with the nut in it.
Read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) to show that God did not stay far away, but came near us when Jesus was born on earth. God wants to have a friendship with us, and He made that possible when He sent Jesus.
He Is Closer Than You Think!
Item Needed: small figure of Jesus in the manger (or picture)
Gather everyone to play the game and choose a "hider" and a "finder." The finder goes out of the room (so she can't see) while the "hider" hides baby Jesus somewhere in the room. Call the "finder" back in. Sing Christmas songs (or some other song) while the "finder" looks for baby Jesus; sing softly when she is far away and LOUDLY when she get close to the spot. When baby Jesus is found, clap and choose two more to be the "hider" and "finder." Continue until all have had a chance to be both "hider" and "finder."
Is Jesus close to or far away from us? (Close)
Although we can't see Jesus, He is close to us. We can talk to Him and know He is listening any time.
The Man and the Birds
This last week before Christmas can get really hectic. Start a new tradition. Serve cookies and tea or hot chocolate and read a Christmas story (such as the one below) aloud by candlelight.
The Man and the Birds
by Paul Harvey
The man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a Scrooge; he was a kind, decent, mostly good man; generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that stuff the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus story, about God coming to earth as a man.
"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but he would wait up for them. And so he stayed home while they went to the service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then walked back to his fireside chair to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound . . . then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must have been throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large picture window.
Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them . . . He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me . . . that I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Any move he made tended to frighten them or confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm . . . to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand." At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells ringing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.
What did Jesus' birth show us about God? (It showed how much He loved us and how much He wanted us to know Him.)
Jesus was willing to become a man, so we could know and have a friendship with God.