Luke 2:1-20, New International Reader's Version
Jesus Is Born
2In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. 2It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own town to be listed.
4So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. 5He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby. 6While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.
8There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said,
14“May glory be given to God in the highest heaven!
And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”
15The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
- Flashlight (or light to shine on to the Nativity and manger)
- Nativity with a manger.
Have you ever seen a spotlight used to light up the night sky? What about a spotlight to shine on a performer on stage? How about the Bat Signal in the sky to alert Batman that he is needed to save the citizens of Gotham? (Allow children to answer or suggest other spotlight examples.) In each of these examples, the light is meant to lead people to a certain place in the city or make your eyes focus on who is on stage. If a store is having a big sale, a searchlight might be set up in the parking lot to invite people to follow the light to that location. If you are watching someone on stage with a spotlight, the area outside the light is usually dark, and your eyes follow the performer.
The shepherds also followed a light. Do you know what kind of light they followed? (Allowed children to answer.) That’s right, they followed the bright light of a star. That star led them to a Nativity and a baby in the manger. That star led them to the new king of heaven and earth. The star led them to Jesus, born in Bethlehem.
The Christmas Star was sent by God to announce the birth of Jesus. It shone very bright in the night sky to lead people to the manger. The shepherds followed it and found Jesus. God wants us to also follow the light to the manger. God wants each of us to kneel next to the baby in the manger and offer our whole selves, our mind, heart, and soul to Jesus!
We can’t travel back in time to that first Christmas night in Bethlehem, but we can follow the light and kneel by the manger and invite Jesus into our lives.
I have a flashlight. When I shine it in this dark space, our eyes will follow it. (Demonstrate how you can shine the light on the walls or ceiling of the room.) As I shine this light, follow it with your eyes. The light will end up shining on the manger of this Nativity. Let’s all quietly kneel, for the baby is sleeping, and quietly pray a soft prayer to Jesus.
Tomorrow is not only Christmas Day, but it is also a Sunday. Tomorrow is a day for singing loudly, but tonight is perfect for “Silent Night” and “Away in the Manger.” (Incorporate either of these hymn selections in your Christmas Eve service here.)
(Shine the light around and pause several times on the walls and ceiling to ensure children are following the light with their eyes. Slowly move it toward the Nativity and shine it on the manger. Once children are kneeling near the manger, offer prayer).
Dear Jesus, help us to follow the star to the manger. Thank you, God, for sending your son to earth as a little baby. We welcome you into our lives this Christmas. Amen.