This will work best with a small group. If you use it with a large group, you may want to display each object rather than passing it around. With minor adaptions, it could be used with youth or adults. I think it would be fun with a senior adult group.
Props: Select a box and decorate it with Christmas wrappings, ribbons, etc. For the lesson to be most effective, it should be very easy to get the lid off the box. You might use a shoe box wrapping the lid separately from the box so that you can quickly untie a ribbon and lift off the lid. The following objects should be inside the box: a Nativity scene manger, Baby Jesus, a sheep, a scroll, a cross, a small unwrapped gift (perhaps a piece of candy or an inexpensive ornament) for each child
What's your favorite time of year? Lots of us like Christmas better than any other time of year. One of our favorite things about Christmas is probably the gifts. Bright colored packages with ribbons and lots of tape are great fun to open.
(hold gift box up and turn it around to display all sides)
I think my gift is very pretty, don't you? Some gifts are almost too pretty to open! This one would make a pretty decoration. But my curiousity always gets the best of me. I simply must find out what's inside.
(begin to untie the ribbon)
I hope this is something really special! What is the best gift you've ever received? I've gotten many nice gifts. It would be hard to pick a favorite.
(lift the lid off the box)
This is interesting.
(lift out the manger)
This is a manger - a place where farmers put the feed for cows to eat.
(pass the manger around for each child to hold - wait for the manger to get back to you before you contine)
Look at this!
(lift out the Baby Jesus)
Since the beginning of the world, people have wondered what God is like. On the first Christmas, God came to earth. His named was Jesus. He was born in a stable. His mother wrapped him up and laid Him in a manger.
(pass it around for each child to hold - wait for it to come back before you continue)
God put a special star in the sky that night and He sent angels to show the way to the manger.
(lift out the sheep)
There were some shepherds spending the night out in fields taking care of their sheep that night. Most people thought shepherds were not very important people. But God sent an angel came to tell them that Jesus was born. The shepherds were afraid when they saw a real angel. But the angel told them not to be afraid because he had good news for them. The angel invited the shepherds to see Baby Jesus in the manger. And God sent a whole sky full of angels to celebrate Jesus' birth. When I look at this sheep, I remember that God loves us all - even when other people don't think we are very important, we are important to God.
(pass sheep around for the children to hold - wait for it to come back before you continue)
At Christmas we celebrate Jesus' birth. Jesus did not stay a baby - He grew just like you are growing. One time when Jesus was 12 years old, He went to the temple with His parents. The temple was like our church - it was where they went to worship God together. The temple was a long way from their home but they had fun going there. They walked with a big group of family and friends. On the way back, Jesus' parents realized that He was not walking with the other children. They had to go all the way back to the temple to find Jesus. It took them 3 days to find Jesus. They found Him in the temple reading the Bible and talking about God with the grownups.
(lift the scroll out of the box)
Back then, the Bible was written on scrolls like this one. Of course the only part of the Bible they had was the Old Testament. The New Testament was written later to tell us about Jesus. A very long time before Jesus was born, God told the Old Testament prophets to tell every one that Jesus was coming. They wrote down what God said - that Jesus was coming to save us from our sin.
(pass the scroll around for the children to see, wait for it to come back before you continue)
God wants us to always love each other and be kind to each other. But we often want to do things our own way even if we hurt someone else by what we are doing. When we do things our own way instead of God's way, we sin. For example, when we say or do something unkind to another child, that is sin. When we disobey our parents, that is sin. When we say something that is not true, that is sin. The Bible says that we all sin. Sin is like a wall that keeps us away from God. When we sin, someone has to be punished for it. God knew that we could not stand to be punished for all of our own sins. God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to take away our sin.
(lift the cross out of the box)
When Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for all of our sins. On the cross, Jesus paid for all my sin. On the cross, Jesus paid for all of your sins.
(pass the cross around and wait for it to come back to you)
Jesus died on the cross but He did not stay dead. God raised Jesus back to life. Right now, Jesus is alive. He lives in heaven and, if we want Him to, He will also live in our hearts. When I asked Jesus to come into my heart, I accepted the gift from God. The Bible says that when I accepted this Gift I became a child of God because I believed on Jesus. All my sins got washed away. And I get to spend forever with God in heaven. This is a gift that God offers to each of us. There is a small gift in this box for each of you.
(remove one gift from the box and give it to the first child saying, 'Sue, this is a gift for you, will you accept it?' when the child agrees, give the gift. Repeat for each child)
Each of you accepted the gift. What if someone said 'no, I don't want the gift'? You can only take a gift with you if you accept it. It's the same with Jesus' gift to you. It only belongs to you if you accept it. You are growing up just like Jesus did. Someday, the Spirit of God will speak to your heart and ask if you want to accept Jesus' gift. If this is happening now, all you need to do is say 'yes' to God. Please bow your heads with me.
(pray with the children thanking God for Jesus)
If you have just accepted God's gift or if you have any questions, please let me know.
The idea for this lesson came from a drama by Tony R. Stuckless