Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the lesser told part of the christmas story...

as i was preparing curriculum to teach to our kids, i just felt the lord leading me to write about things pre luke 2. to talk about things not often told in the christmas story, but the things that are essential to understanding it.  most kids could tell you the story about the baby in the manger, but many of them and many of us, lack an understanding as to why it is that big of deal. in fact, i think we know it should be a big deal, but do not feel as if it is.  that is part of the reason i think there is so much hype and busyness around christmas. the busyness can be an effort to make up for what we think we should be feeling.

so this week, we are teaching the kids a lesson that made me cry as i wrote it. (i totally used the jesus storybook bible pages 170-175 to write the lesson.)  i thought i would share it with you guys, in hopes that the lord uses it to help you start the christmas season with the right worship in mind, before we all get too wrapped up in the other fun stuff (like my big thankmas party in 2 weeks). so here is the gist of what we are teaching the kids this sunday. (it will a bit more polished by then, but you get the idea.)

Good morning boys and girls! Can anyone tell me what month it is? That is right, December!And what big holiday happens in December? Yes Christmas!!Well today we are going to talk about the Christmas story, but probably about a part that is usually not talked about that much at Christmas. Today our story is found in the Old Testament.And we have lots to cover, so lets get after it!

First, we are going to start with the story from the book of Ezra.Before we read this section, let’s talk about what is going on. The Israelites were the people of God. Remember how they followed Moses out of Egypt. Then they went into the promised land.Then they had some good kings and then they had some not so good kings and they quit following God. So God had other countries come in and attack them and they became slaves again and had to live in other countries and by others rules.Then we come to Ezra chapter 7, and we see that God is rescuing his people.He lets them go free and go back to where they were living.They are excited and Ezra and Nehemiah are helping them rebuild their cities (remember Nehemiah and the wall?). Well Ezra and Malachi begin reminding them about all of God’s law.

Now let’s take a quick look at God’s law and all he expects.
(show some slides or read some scripture with examples)

And that is only a small piece.God is a holy God and he had rules and laws that he expected them to obey. They could not. They tried and tried and they kept failing. Even their great king, David could not do it. As Ezra was reading the law to them, they were reminded that would always fail. And they wept. They could not do it.They would never succeed.

God used many men to tell his people that he would send someone to be their king that would not fail. Someone that would be able to do all God asked them to do. Someone that would rescue them. They had a feast to celebrate this good news, but not too long after this, many fell back into a sense of hopelessness. And you know what, not too long after this, God was silent. He did not speak through men for a very long time. All they had was this promise that God was going to send someone.

Many forgot. Many gave up. The hopelessness was too much to bear. BUT, then one night, there was born a tiny baby in a manger. A baby that was God with us. After being silent for so long, God sent his son in the form of a baby. And we know that baby would grow up and live a perfect life. He would be crucified on the cross to pay for all of our sins and all of the sins of those before us.And he would not stay dead, but he would rise again.

Don’t you see boys and girls, why Christmas is such a big deal. Without Jesus we, just like the Israelites are hopeless. We cannot keep all of God’s laws. We cannot be perfect. We mess up. Our hearts forget about God and run after other things. Before we know it we are in trouble, just like the Israelites. Trouble we cannot get out of. But that night, in a manger, the Hope of the world was born! The one, the only one who could free us was born! God was not silent anymore!! In fact he came closer to us than ever before!

We can learn many things from this story. God is holy and expects a lot from us. But he also loves us. He loves us enough that he sent his son to live the life that we could not.He showed compassion on us!This also reminds us that God has a plan. Even when he is silent and does not seem to be around, he has a plan.

This is why we can sing Joy to the World, because the good news of Christ should bring joy to the entire world. This is why we can talk about this Holy night, because this night the entire world found its hope.We sing come let us adore him because we love him so much! How great is our God?! Let’s pray.

Dear Lord, we are so thankful that you sent your son. Lord, we just like the Israelites always fail and we are hopeless! Thank you for sending Jesus in a manger. Thank you for saving us! Help us to remember your compassion and to celebrate you this season!Lord help us understand what this means. Amen!

(the follow scripture is what we referenced: ezra 7, malachi 1,3, nehemiah 8-10, romans 8:1-4)

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