These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7)
Today I tested positive for Covid again. (Dang!) I had been looking forward to getting over to my daughter’s house and finally starting up Bible lessons with my granddaughters again. Even though the doctor said I probably wasn’t contagious, it looks like a few more days of quarantine for Nana. So we won’t be starting class back up until Monday.
Meanwhile, I’m putting together a “syllabus” for December. We will, of course, be studying the Nativity. The theme of the unit is “How do you respond to Jesus?” We’ll look at all the people who were part of the Nativity story and how they responded to Jesus, everything from skepticism to faith and submission, from ecstatic and wanting to tell everyone to quietly pondering, from worship to jealousy and murderous hatred – or complete indifference. (“No room.”)
Some of my readers are home schooling parents, and I know right now some of you are home schooling through no choice of your own! Some of you may have kids in public school, where they aren’t learning about the Bible, but you would like them to. Many children can’t go to Sunday school for an unspecified length of time. Some of you may just want to have some special Christmastime devotions with your children. I wanted to share my outline with any of you who might want to use it as a lesson plan, or a springboard for your own lessons.
I have numbered the days instead of assigning dates to them, as different families will be working within different schedules. I hope that some of you find this useful. I myself was blessed just looking at the many things God did in the short time centering around Jesus’s birth, and the many ways that different individuals responded to Him. It gave me a great deal to think of in terms of my own response to God when He reveals Himself to me.
Day 1: Luke 1:5-25 The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold – Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s responses
Day 2: Luke 1:26 -38 Gabriel Visits Mary with the News of Jesus – Mary’s response [Optional, at parents’ discretion: Deuteronomy 22: 20-21 – How the community might respond – Mary’s courage]
Day 3: Matthew 1:18-25 Joseph Learns Mary Is Expecting – How he responds
Day 4: Luke 1:39-56 Mary Visits Elizabeth – How Elizabeth responds (how John the Baptist responds!) and Mary’s response in song.
Day 5: Luke 1:57-80 John the Baptist’s Birth (How is Zechariah responding now?)
Day 6: Luke 2: 1-7 Jesus is born! How Bethlehem responds (He’s come a long way – Do you have room for Him?) Song: “O Come to My Heart, Lord Jesus”
Day 7: Luke 2:8-20 The Angel Tells the Shepherds – How the shepherds respond; how Mary responds
Day 8: Matthew 2: 1-12 (also: Micah 5:2 – prophecy) The Magi’s Visit – How Herod responds – How the Magi respond when they find Jesus
Day 9: Mathew 2:13-18 Escape to Egypt – Joseph’s response to a dream; Herod’s response when he realizes he’s been outwitted by the Magi
Day 10: Matthew 2: 9-23 Herod Dies; Joseph’s response to another dream
Day 11: Prophecies – Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6 [Memory Verse] Optional music: Play “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” from Handel’s Messiah
Day 12: John 1: 1-12 John 1:1-12 The Word Made Flesh – How the world responds to Jesus, how “His own” respond to Him, and how some will respond, and what their reward is (Will you be one of them?)
Day 13: Review story and memory verse; quiz:
How did they respond?
A. Zechariah B. Bethlehem C. Wisemen D. Shepherds
E. Joseph F. Herod G. Simeon H. Mary
I. Anna J. Elizabeth (One of these is the answer twice.)
_____________doubted, was struck dumb, got his voice back then declared, “His name is John.”
_____________ said, “God has done this for me.”
_____________ had questions, but quickly trusted and said, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
_____________ was disappointed, merciful, then after a dream believed and obeyed.”
_____________ ignored Jesus, couldn’t be bothered – no room.
_____________ were excited, wanted to see Him, then went out and told everyone!
_____________ quietly pondered things in her heart.
_____________ were seeking Him, found Him, worshipped Him, and sneaked home.
_____________ hated Jesus, seeing Him as a rival, and set out to kill Him.
_____________ recognized Him as the Messiah, praise God.
_____________ saw Him after many years of prayer, ran and told everyone.
When you hear the name “Jesus,” how do you respond?
Day 14: Movie Night! “The Nativity Story” (available on Amazon Prime) Watch with the whole family – this is an excellent movie!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we get ready to celebrate Your birth, help us to look more deeply into the familiar stories. Help us see Your hand in the lives of the people involved and consider how they responded. Help us to consider how You are working our lives to draw us closer to You and to make us more like You. Let us respond as the wise men did, diligently seeking You, and as John the Baptist did, leaping for joy when we hear Your voice! Let us be like Mary, bursting into song as we realize how magnificent Your grace is toward us, and like the shepherds, running to tell anyone and everyone who will listen that You have come! Amen.