Nativity Christmas scene with baby Jesus in the manger in silhouette, three wise men or kings and star of Bethlehem

 Supplies needed for each family tribe:  3 mini gift boxes (3 different colors) for each family, one miniature bottle of orange essential oil per family (you can purchase a large bottle of oil and miniature bottles and make your own for a reasonable amount of money or choose something else that lets off a sweet aroma), 1 small stone for each family that has “peace” written on it with permanent marker, 1 miniature crown (perhaps a charm) for each family, 1 regular size paper crown per family

 Visuals needed for teaching:  4 balloons, permanent marker for drawing faces on balloons, safety pin, something that smells really bad, three Styrofoam cups for each family tribe, small pebbles for each family, a pen for each family

*All supplies can be purchased from Amazon.com or party stores.  Sample pictures at end of lesson plans.

 Prepare ahead of time:  Prepare three mini gift boxes (three different colors) for each family tribe.  Inside the first box put a small bottle of orange essential oil or other sweet smelling aroma you chose and write the word “Joy” on the outside of the box.  Inside the second box put the stone that says “peace” on it and write the word “Peace” on the outside of the box.  Inside the third box put the mini crown and write the word “Wisdom” on the outside of the box.  As each family tribes comes in, give each one a set of three boxes and also one paper crown.

Introduction:  I want us to look at the Christmas story today from the perspective of what I believe are gifts that God released surrounding the birth of Jesus and how these gifts are still available to our families today.  Each family tribe has 3 gift boxes and each one represents one of the 3 gifts I want to talk about that come from the stories surrounding Christ’s birth.

 Mini Teaching #1:  The first gift box we’re going to talk about is the labeled “Joy”.  The first time we see joy as a part of the Christmas story is when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth.  Mary was pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth was also carrying a baby in her womb.  Does anybody know what the name of Elizabeth’s baby was going to be?  John the Baptist!

Luke 1: 39-44 says, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

The moment that Jesus came in the room, even though He was still in Mary’s womb, His presence made John the Baptist, still in his mommy’s belly,  get filled with joy!  Psalm 16:11 says, “There is joy in God’s presence!”

So, how does the gift of joy work in our homes?  (Call a family of four t0 come forward.  Have them each blow up a balloon – 2 largely inflated, 2 barely blown up – don’t tie them off).  In most families we go our separate ways throughout the day and we don’t know what kind of day each other has had until we meet together in the evenings.  A couple of you might have been having a good day and come home feeling like this (draw smiley faces on balloons that are largely inflated) because you got a raise at work, a good grade at school, or a great new haircut.   But a couple of you might not have had such a good day and aren’t feeling quite so inflated as the others (draw straight or frowny faces on the ones barely inflated ).  You try to give some of your joy to the ones who don’t have so much (try to transfer air from one of the largely inflated balloons to the barely blown up one – which is impossible) but instead of helping them, all of a sudden you’re feeling deflated as well.  Before you know it, you’re feeling just as deflated they are and you’re not sure where your joy went.  Sometimes if someone comes home in a real bad mood (point to other barely blown up balloon) they might just pop your bubble all together!  (Pop last largely blown up balloon with the safety pin).

That’s because the things throughout the day that were giving us so much joy weren’t necessarily coming from God’s presence so we can easily lose our feelings of joy.  That doesn’t mean those were bad things, but they aren’t things that carry the potential for a lasting joy that can’t be shaken by someone else’s bad day.  We can’t look for joy anywhere but in God’s presence.  If we want to have joyful homes, we need to make a place for God’s presence.  When His presence is filling our homes, everyone in the house will experience His joy even if we didn’t have the best of days.

God’s presence releases a sweet smelling aroma in our homes (have them open the box labeled “Joy” and smell the orange oil).  Bad attitudes release a smell too but it’s not a sweet smell.  It smells more like this (invite some kids to smell something really bad you brought in).  When we choose to release a bad attitude into our homes, we are releasing a smell like this that is affecting everyone around us.  God wants to release a sweet smell in our homes of His abiding presence that releases an atmosphere of joy.  If we want more joy in our homes, just ask for more of God’s presence.  You can even go home today and anoint the door to your house with this orange oil and ask for God’s presence to come and release a smell of joy in your home.

 Family Ministry Time:  The first thing I want the head of your tribe to do is invite the presence of God into your family circle.  Then I want your family to start talking about funny memories you have as a family.  Do this for about 5 minutes.  (After 4 minutes tell them they have one more minute to pick one of their favorite funny memories they talked about).   (Put on some soaking music now).  Now I want everyone to close their eyes.  I want everyone in your family to picture the memory you picked as a family.  Reenact it in your mind but this time I want you to ask Jesus where He was during this time.  Ask Jesus to show you how much joy that moment brought Him and ask Him to show you what He looked like as He was laughing with you.

 Conclusion:  All it took was one moment in the presence of Jesus and Elizabeth’s baby leaped for joy.  All it takes is one moment in the presence of Jesus, and your family will also be filled with joy.  I believe joy is a gift that Jesus wants to release this Christmas season to your family just like He did for John the Baptist.

Mini Lesson #2:  The next box we’re going to talk about is the labeled “Peace”.

Luke 2:8-14 says, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The next gift from the Christmas story that I believe is available to our families is the gift of peace.  The holiday season can get very busy and hectic for families as you run from one party to the next, buying and wrapping Christmas presents, plays and programs, baking and cooking, and lots more.  A lot of families get pretty overwhelmed and they feel that calm, peaceful feeling slipping away.

But, that is not the way God wants us to live and it’s not how He wants us to celebrate the birth of His Son.  His Son came to give us peace.  When our peace is slipping because our schedules are too busy celebrating His birth then we might need to reexamine how we’re choosing to celebrate His gift of peace.

The kind of peace that Luke was talking about is the same kind of peace that Jesus was talking about in John 14:27.  He said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.  And, the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.  So, don’t be troubled or afraid.” 

The gift of peace is not the gift of “I have no more problems I have to deal with so now I can rest.”  It is talking about a peace within our hearts and minds.  You see, the world is full of problems and difficulties and sometimes we bring those worries into our homes with us and it causes a feeling of unsettledness instead of peace.  But, God sent His Son, Jesus to be the “Prince of peace.”  That means He rules over our lives and we can have peace in our minds and hearts.  No matter what we are going through, we don’t have to be troubled or afraid.  We can have peace and we can release that peace in our homes when we invite the Prince of Peace that calms the storms of life around us to come and fill our homes with His peace.

Now open your boxes and take out the rock inside.  We’re going to do a little experiment.  (Invite the head of each tribe to come get three Styrofoam cups, a handful of pebbles, and a pen.)  I want you to put one cup flat on the floor…save the rest for later.  Your job is to move the cup.  First try blowing on it.  Now have someone gently throw some pebbles at the cup and see if they can get it to move.  See what other ways your family can come up with to make the cup move.  Now replace the cup with the rock.  Try the exact same things with the rock and see if you can get it to move.

If you were an insect and you were out in a windstorm or a thunderstorm, do you think it would be safer to be on the cup or on the rock?  Which is stronger, the cup or the rock?  Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.”

When we make Jesus the cornerstone rock of our homes, we have an unshakable peace that will help us ride out any storm we might face as a family.  You can take these rocks home and put them somewhere as a reminder that your family is clinging to the rock that is the source of your family’s peace.

 Family Ministry Time:  (Play soaking music) As a family, have a discussion about anything in your home that has been stealing your family’s peace.  Write down on the Styrofoam cups what it is and if need be repent for those things. (pause a few minutes) Now pray together that God would reestablish His peace in your family and stand up and smash the cups representing the fact that those things can no longer steal peace in your home.  Ask if anyone can put their cups back and make it look new again?  That means it’s destroyed so don’t return back to those places again.

 Conclusion:  Take the smashed cups home and put them beside your rock of peace reminding you that those things no longer have power to disrupt the peace in your home.  Then you can say like the angels did “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and in this home peace to those whom His favor rests.”  I believe that peace is another gift God wants to release this Christmas season to your family just like He did for the shepherds in the field.

 Mini Teaching #3:  The last box is the labeled “Wisdom”

Matthew 2:1- says, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written…Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

These wise men were very wise, because they were seeking Jesus.  God also gave these men wisdom through dreams.  If your family wants wisdom as well to make good choices, you must seek Jesus as a family too and be listening to your dreams.

If you want to know how a painting was painted, who would you want to ask?  If you want to know how a building was made, who would you ask?  You have to go to the source!  So, if you want to find out how to make the wisest decisions, you have to go the source…God!  God made the entire universe.  He created you.  He knows everything there is to know about everything.  So, why would we go to any other place to get wisdom?

We should seek after God just like the wise men did.  Because God is the source of all wisdom.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  How do you get wisdom from God?  It’s very simple…ask God and He will give your family wisdom.

There was another wise man in the Bible named Solomon.  He became King at a very young age.  Solomon knew he needed help in being the best king he could be.  God told him that he could ask for anything and it would be given to him.  Do you remember what Solomon asked for?  That’s right, he asked God for wisdom.  And, God gave him so much wisdom, Solomon became known as the wisest man to ever live.

Now everybody seems to know that story but did you know all that happened in a dream?  I Kings 3 says, “10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.”

God wants to release wisdom to your family.  All you have to do is ask.  Sometimes the wisdom is going to be released to you through dreams like the magi and Solomon.  Kids are having dreams about their family that if parents are listening closely it’s going to be wisdom for the entire family.

 Family Ministry Time:  It’s time to take the last item out of our box.  It’s a crown to remind us to ask for God’s wisdom as a family.  Now I want you take the big paper crown and take turns putting it on.  Dad’s will put the crown on their children’s heads and pray for them to receive dreams that will contain wisdom for the family.  Then kids will put crowns on their parents and pray for them to lead their family with wisdom.

 Conclusion:  Again, you can place the little crown somewhere in your house that will serve as a reminder to seek God for wisdom.  Wisdom is the final gift that I want to talk about that I believe God wants to release to families this Christmas season.

 Corporate Worship and Games:

End the service singing fun Christmas carols together as a group.  Then have a snowball fight!  Give each person a piece of white paper and tell them to crumble it up…that will be their snowball.  Divide everyone into two teams.  Make a divider down the middle of the room with masking tape on the floor.  Half of the families go on one side of the tape and the other half on the other side facing the other team (or you can do kids versus adults).  Set a timer for 60 seconds.

When you say go have everyone start throwing their snowballs at each other on the other side of the tape.  When the timer goes off count how many snowballs are on each side of the tape.  The side with the least amount of snowballs wins!  Repeat as many times as you like.