Written by Tiffany Hollums
(Please note that this lesson was written prior to Christmas 2019.)
The Christmas season is in full swing – the decorations, carols, and traditions that make this the most wonderful time of the year!
But even more important than those things, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and what that means to all of humanity.
Use this lesson to remind students that Christmas is all about the incredible love God has for us.
On a personal note…
This year our family decided to do something different and got a palm tree instead of a Christmas tree.
We like Christmas trees and have always had one.
The palm tree was a way for us to remember the time we lived in San Diego for three years. We really miss it!
Plus, we’re kinda weird and like to do things out of the ordinary.
Here’s my wife with the palm tree at Home Depot:
We bring it to the house and decide it should have a name.
We name her Pam.
Then, we put some lights on her:
It hits us that we probably won’t be able to fit all the ornaments on a palm tree.
So, we decide to buy a Christmas tree too.
We put lights on it too:
And we eventually put ornaments on it. But I took that picture before we did.
So…now we have both a Christmas tree and Pam, our palm tree in our living room.
Both will have lights and ornaments on it. Both will have presents under the tree.
I know…we have issues 🙂
Ha…just thought I would let you know what we did over the weekend.
This Christmas thing is fun!
Now, on to the lesson we go 🙂
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
YOUTH GROUP LESSON FOR CHRISTMAS
Bible: Luke 2:1-20
Main Idea: Christmas is a reminder of the incredible love God has for us.
- Gift boxes, Christmas gift bags, small stockings
- Christmas Wrapping paper
- Tape: masking, packing and scotch (you will need A LOT)
- Fun Christmas stocking stuffers
- Pieces of paper numbered for each student (2 sets: one for them and one for you to draw from.)
- Poster board
- Glue sticks
- Timer set for 10 seconds
- An old-fashioned nativity set
OPENING GAME: THE GIFT THAT NEVER ENDS
Before the game, prepare a ‘Gift that never ends’ using fun stocking stuffers, candy, or strange items you find in the church junk closet – the stranger the better!
This will be a labor of love, but it is completely worth the time and effort to see the youth trying to open this mess!
Put items in boxes or bags or stockings.
Wrap with Christmas paper every few layers to add intrigue.
Be sure to cover the wrapped layers with clear wrap or a baggie.
Why? From experience (aka the worst ‘Gift That never ends’ experience) if you put tape over the paper, it just rips off and the youth think or say ‘this is the dumbest game ever!
Keep wrapping tape around the box, then add another box or gift bag, tape until you have a HUGE ball of tape, gifts, and place the huge ball in one last big box and beautifully wrap it.
As the students enter, give them a number.
Have them sit in a circle around the Gift.
Say: This gift is full of Christmas cheer, but first you get to open it.
One at a time.
I will call out a number and when your number is called you will get 10 seconds to unwrap the gift using only
Once your time is done put the gift back in the middle and I will call another number and then they will have 10 seconds to unwrap the gift.
Whatever you tear off or open you get to keep, but remember: your time is short.
Adjust the time you give each youth to open as the game continues depending on how fast they are tearing through the paper and tape.
At the end of the game if you have more time, you can extend this game by giving the students another round of trading or stealing items especially if some youth didn’t get any items in the first opening.
Go in order of their original numbers and give each person the chance to keep their items, trade an item or steal someone’s item.
Make a rule of how many times an item can ‘pass hands’ or this part could get ugly!
Say: Things are not always as they seem at first glance, right?
Think about what you thought when you saw that huge wrapped gift.
What did you think was in there?
Now, look at what you got: how do you feel?
Some of you are excited by what you unwrapped, but some of you definitely didn’t get what you were expecting.
Welcome to The Christmas Story!
How many of you have heard The Christmas story?
Yeah, we’ve probably all heard it more times than we can count.
Mary, Joseph, a baby… who else?
Give the students a chance to name the other ‘characters’ of the story of Jesus’ birth.
Be sensitive in case some students haven’t heard the story.
As they name the people, place that nativity piece from the set, up in front for the youth to see.
Many, many years ago, nobody got what they were expecting.
Just imagine being Mary and Joseph.
Mary was a teenager and Joseph probably was, as well.
Far away from home.
Mary is pregnant.
It’s not Joseph’s baby.
But, here they are.
And the shepherds – out alone in fields with sheep.
And all of sudden there are angels… I bet the shepherds never expected them.
Imagine that Jesus was born today.
Instead of a stinky barn with animals eating hay in a small town under Roman rule, imagine where would Jesus be born today?
Remember: it would be where you least expect.
And the parents would also be… the absolute last people you’d think God would choose to be the Mom and Dad of the Savior of the world.
Divide the youth into groups of 4-5 students and give them a piece of card stock paper.
Take a minute and look around the room.
Your task is to try to recreate the Christmas story for today by using the papers and magazines that are placed around the room.
Visually, try to show how Jesus might be born today.
Then, take a picture of it and post it to social media with this hashtag – #christmasmodernday.
Each group will get a chance to explain their Christmas story, but the challenge is to make us to see the Christmas story with fresh eyes.
Give the groups time to work on their re-creations.
Walk around and engage in some thoughtful conversation.
Have someone read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20.
Have each group show their picture and then place them around the nativity scene.
The core of this story is this question: who is this baby?
Just another baby?
Born to teenagers in a dirty place?
There was nothing normal about this baby!
Because you miss the whole point if you leave this story thinking ‘what a cute baby’ or ‘man, that stable stinks!’
The only right thing to do is to bow down in worship because of who this baby is!
Emmanuel, God with us.
God with skin on.
See, the only person in this story who seems to know exactly what they are doing is God.
God is putting on human skin ON PURPOSE knowing that he will die.
This baby has come to save us.
And THAT is the absolute best gift any of us could ever receive.
It’s as if we are so excited about the gifts that don’t really matter… kind of like the game we played.
We rip through all the wrapping and maybe enjoy the thing we received for awhile, but in the end it’s like trash compared to the gift you have lying in the manger.
This year, take some time to really receive this gift.
This gift is Jesus, born for you.
Jesus, God the Son, has come down into our messy world.
To save us.
I pray you get what you never expected – a heart full of the love God has for you.
No package could hold it all.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Which person in the Christmas story do you identify with the most and why?
- Which modern-day Christmas story that we created today really made you think in a new or challenging way about the birth of Jesus?
- If Jesus was born today, where do you think it would be? Why?
- Why do you think Jesus was born where he was and when he was?
- How can you help to remember that Christmas is about Jesus and God’s love this year?
- How does it make you feel to know that the baby is actually God?
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