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This Christmas Bible study for kids is the first in a series of Bible lessons designed to encourage children, youth and even us adults to discover the wonder of Christmas anew using our five senses.
These also correspond with the themes for the Advent Season - hope, love, joy and peace. The fifth lesson focuses on what's next - the Wise Men.
Sometimes the sense of wonder can be found again when we allow ourselves to "wonder." Have you ever wondered about Zechariah and Elizabeth?
We tend to jump ahead straight to the manger, but when we do, we are missing a great lesson experienced by two faithful believers who were a part of the Christmas story!
Or use their imaginations!
Have everyone close their eyes again while you ring some jingle bells. Ask what they think they heard and how this made them feel. What things did the sound make them think of?
Take time to talk about how many times bells are used to announce someone or something coming. Horses may have sleigh bells we can hear before we see them. A door bell is used to let us know someone has come to our door.
Sing a round of "Jingle Bells" to add to the Christmas spirit and help this lesson stick in kids' memory.
When we hear bells this Christmas season, let them remind us of the great announcement of the hope God sent even before that first Christmas night.
In the Gospel of Luke we find the story of Christmas didn't begin in the manger, a lot happened before that special night.
The Hebrew people had been waiting for a Savior for hundreds of years. It had been about 400 years since the last prophet had spoken for God.
[Have kids turn back to find the last book of the Old Testament to find this prophets name - Malachi.]
Luke begins his telling of the Christmas story with the good news that a new prophet would come to make the way for the long-awaited Savior.
Read Luke 1:5-7.
Have you ever had to wait on something and almost want to just give up hope? Was waiting hard? Zechariah and Elizabeth knew all about waiting; they learned how God always keeps His promises.
We can learn that even in the wait, God's got this!
Read the following verses out loud, but stop before saying John's name and allow the group to announce the name - "John." Then clarify that this was John the Baptist.
One of the longest waits is the nine months before a baby is born. There is nothing to be done to hurry it along, but in that time of waiting, there is much taking place and there is the hope of what is to come.
Allow kids to discuss some of the things that are done or prepared as a family waits for a baby to be born.
Zechariah and Elizabeth must have been busy getting ready for the birth of their baby. They weren't just sitting around and neither was God!
Zechariah and Elizabeth had waited years to become parents; it must have seemed like such a long wait...much longer than the nine months they waited for him to be born.
The length of time they waited was no surprise to God; He had already been at work hundreds of years preparing for this time. We can know that even in the wait, God is at work.
In the Old Testament God spoke through prophets. Many times He sent them to give an announcement of hope.
In that last book of the Old Testament, the one God had Malachi write about 400 years before the birth of Zechariah's and Elizabeth's son, it says -
"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty." (Malachi 3:1, NIV)
Even about 400 years before that, the prophet Isaiah wrote about their son too -
"A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God." Isaiah 40:3
John's birth was like bells ringing; he had come to announce an even greater promise, a promise of hope!
The Jewish people were looking and waiting for a future hope - the promise of the Messiah.
Both Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) refer to the "the anointed or chosen one." If we listen to God's announcements for the coming of this promised one, we will see how they point to Jesus.
God pointed some of these prophecies towards Jesus' birth, such as:
These are only two...Jesus fulfilled over 300 specific prophecies given about the Messiah in the Old Testament!
John was sent as a witness to announce Jesus as the promised Messiah, God's gift of hope!
Hear those bells ringing?!
In times of waiting in our lives, we can trust God's plan and that He is at work. Nothing takes God by surprise.
A great deal took place that first Christmas even before Jesus was born. There was great expectation and probably also fear of the unknown for those who lived it.
This Christmas may we keep our eyes and hearts open with great expectation of all God has ahead of us even to the second coming of Christ. The world may seem scary, but God is in control and can be trusted with it all.
Jesus said -
The complete story of John the Baptist is a whole other lesson, but do have the group recall how the prophecies in the Old Testament came to be exactly as promised. God had a plan and God had prepared; even in the wait, much was taking place that could not be seen.
God gave us the promise of hope in Jesus for salvation and a future hope of forever with Him. John came as a witness to ring out the good news of Jesus coming as the Lamb of God to save the world.
© Copyright 2022 Susan Smart
Give each child a jingle bell to hold (unless their age could cause it to be a choking hazard) and a piece of red ribbon. Tell them as they thread the ribbon through the bell's loop to pray and thank God for all He has promised and the hope He gives us in Jesus.
Tell them to continue silently praying, and when they are finished to ring their bell of hope. Encourage them to hang their jingle bells somewhere as a reminder of God's announcement of hope during the Christmas season and on into the New Year.
Next Christmas Bible study for kids in this series - Light of the World
Find the full series here - "Packing Up Our Christmas Senses"
These lessons look at Christmas through the eyes of those who were there the first Christmas and include activities for kids, youth & adults.
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