12 Dec a CE Christmas | Week Two
Why use this family guide: To serve and to celebrate together are important and identifying markers in the lives of believers. Because of their service to the poor and the meals they shared together, the early church stood in stark contrast to the Roman culture around them (Acts 2:42-47, 2 Corinthians 11:17-22, Matthew 11:19). When we slow down and take the time to serve and celebrate together, we look like set-apart people to a broken, frantic world. These aspects of simple, genuine discipleship can set us apart during this Christmas season, too. As families, we have the opportunity to teach our children how to follow Jesus. And as believers, we have the opportunity to invite those who don’t know Him to be a part of these activities.
Over these next three weeks, look for chances to invite others to join you in these activities and conversations. For, we have “good news of great joy… [that ] unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11)
How to use this family guide: Prepare your heart. Begin the week reading the passages and spending time in reflection. Pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you through the activities you do as a family. Share with your children the ideas presented in the opening devotion and what God is teaching you. Read the passages of Scripture together and discuss. Move through the daily activities with your family. The days are meant to build on each other, so complete the activities chronologically, even if you miss a day.
Week 2 | We were orphans
Read: Matthew 1:18-25; Ephesians 2:1-10; The Jesus Storybook Bible: The terrible lie
It all began anew for mankind on one silent night.
For generations Israel had been a nation intended to be set apart from the world but lived, instead, separated from their God. Even at the best of times, the chasm between Israel and her God was nearly impassable. The need for substitutionary sacrifices and a priestly go-between ever loomed over the people of God. As sons and daughters of Adam, they were spiritually orphaned. They were “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
Satan is an unforgiving and dominating master, and the consequences and darkness of sin had corroded humanity – those made in God’s image- since the beginning of time. We were slaves to our own sinful natures; our cravings and desires were the very things destroying us.
Then, in the quietness of a sleepy Jewish village, all of human history was changed. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name ‘Immanuel’ (which means God with us)” (Matthew 1:23). In a short 33 years, the cold emptiness of an un-redeemed humanity would be called from their centuries of darkness. God our Father would demonstrate the richness of his mercy and the depth of his great love with which he loved us. (Ephesians 2:4). The chasm would be crossed; God would be with us, and we would become his children.
“Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: ‘It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you!…I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!‘And he would. One day, God himself would come.” -Sally Loyd-Jones
Day 1 | Sing Together
Singing orients our hearts toward God and reminds us who He is. Today, learn this song together and continue to sing this truth to one another throughout this week.
Day 2 | Talk Together
Discuss these ideas as a family over dinner.
Read The Jesus Storybook Bible: The terrible lie
- What is the terrible lie that we are all tempted to believe?
- How do you think God’s children are always running away from him?
- Can you think of ways that people are living like they don’t have a Heavenly Father?
- What are some of the bad things that you do? Why do you think you do these things?
Day 3 | Serve Together
Sometimes, the idea that we are orphans can feel un-relatable to us. But this idea should be one that propels us towards children in our community who are orphaned or vulnerable. Connecting truth with our emotions and heart often comes through experience. We know that God is our Father. And we know that apart from him we are orphans. But does this truth resonate in our hearts?
Find a time this week or next to serve with your family at a local children’s home. Most children’s homes in the Upstate provide a home for children in the foster system. These children may not be technically “orphans,” but they are living in separation from their biological parents and the rest of their family. They have a need for others to step in and fill this role in their lives- to give them the love and acceptance of a true family.
Discuss these ideas with your children before and after you serve together. Discus how it would feel to be apart from your parents for an unknown period of time. If your family is a fostering or adoptive family, find an age appropriate way to talk about these ideas together and to allow their experiences to be shared.
Many children’s homes have opportunities to help serve meals. Click here to find out more.
Day 4 | Talk Together
Discuss these ideas as a family over dinner.
(Moms and Dads, we know that every family is different and that some of these questions could bring up sensitive topics during your discussion. We hope that you will find ways to navigate these feelings and topics with your family.)
- What are the good things about having a mom and dad (or being a part of this family)?
- What do you think your life would be like if you didn’t have an earthly mother and father?
- The Bible says that we are orphans when we are separated from Him. Let’s talk about ways that being apart from God is similar to not having a mom and dad.
Day 5 | Celebrate Together
Stopping to remember and to celebrate are important disciplines for us as believers. Take time to celebrate together throughout the season.
Plan a night to wear ugly Christmas sweaters together.
We have a good and gracious Father, and when we consider who He is it becomes clear that we are imperfect. Talk about the freedom that comes in acknowledging our ugly, broken nature. We are free to be imperfect and to mess up. There is grace and forgiveness available for us when we are willing to confess our ugliness. Our ugliness separates us from God, but Christmas reminds us that He hasn’t left us as orphans. And that is a reason to celebrate!