“For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
–The words of the wise men in Matthew 2:2
For those churches which follow a three year cycle of Sunday readings, called the Revised Common Lectionary, this year most of our readings about Jesus will be from the Gospel of Matthew. I love the year of Matthew, because this year is the one that tells us the story of the wise men which appear on Epiphany. Because of its emphasis on the wise men, I thought it might be fun to go star-crazy this year from Advent to Epiphany. This week, we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Gathering: Light your Advent wreath, get out your Advent Spiral, or turn on the Christmas tree so that your family knows something special is about to happen. If you have made our star craft during Advent, move it to the top of your Christmas tree. If you haven’t, find a star ornament to place near the top, or cut one out of paper and add a hanger. Jesus is almost here!
Gathering Prayer: (repeat-after-me style)
Dear God, we thank you for time to spend together as a family as we wait for Jesus to finally come. Help this time to be a holy time. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Ask your kids to tell you the story of Jesus being born. If they can’t come up with it off hand, you might want to get out a nativity set and have them tell you about all of the pieces. You can also use this to help them to learn the story. A Children’s Bible or Children’s Christmas story book might also come in handy. If you are stumped, you can watch this short video:
On Christmas, we celebrate this story once again! Just like we tell the stories of our children’s births to them around their birthday time, we learn and relearn the story of the birth of Jesus every year when we celebrate his birthday.
Craft: Jesus in the Manger
A big thanks to this site for giving me a great idea: http://www.housingaforest.com/popsicle-stick-manger-craft/
Here is what mine looked like:
2 Jumbo popsicle sticks (6.25” by .75”)
1 Glue Dot
A paperboard box with one brown side (cereal or cracker)
School Glue (I used the gel kind)
A Jesus and Manger printed on cardstock (you can find the file here)
Markers or other coloring tools
A 10” piece of string, with knots tied on each end
A hot glue gun and glue
Here is a picture of the pieces, unassembled:
- Use the Glue Dot to attach the two popsicle stick together to make the base of the manger.
- Trace the triangle section of the base of the manger onto the brown side of the paper board box. Cut out the triangle, trimming the whole thing down by almost ¼”.
- Use the gel glue to glue the triangle to the back side of the popsicle sticks. Let dry.
- Color baby Jesus and the hay part of the manger on the cardstock that you printed. Cut them out.
- Cut your piece of string and put knots in each end.
- Use the gel glue to glue the hay to the front of the manger and Jesus at an angle to the back. Let dry.
- Use the hot glue gun to glue the string to the top of each popsicle stick on the back side.
The star has risen to the top! It’s time to celebrate Jesus’ birth! Locate your star ornament toward the top of the tree, and add your new ornament somewhere just below. It might look like this:
Song: O Come O Come Emmanuel
In the Gospel of Matthew, the angel tells Joseph that Jesus is “Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” Because Christmas is almost here, now is a great time to ask for him to come among us.
Closing Prayer: (repeat-after-me style)
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let all gifts to us be blessed. By God’s will we move and live, help us see what gifts we give. Amen.