For this Advent series we created dialogues where parents would speak informally with their children about who Jesus is. Each week we sang Graham Kendrick’s “Meekness and Majesty” (SNC 109), which contrasts Jesus’ divinity with the humble circumstances of his birth. These dialogues accompanied the lighting of the Advent candle each week.
On one side of the platform we placed a manger filled with straw and cloth and a cradle filled with symbols of royalty—fur, “jewels,” and royal colors of velvet and silk draped over the sides. On the other side parents sat in living room chairs with a child or children on pillows on the floor. Participants did not memorize the script, but we gave it to them early so they could become familiar with it. (Note: The parent speaking parts are in regular type; the child’s part is in bold.)
Parent: Our church looks different today, doesn’t it? We have special decorations and an Advent wreath. Why do you suppose we have that?
Child: Because Christmas is coming.
What do we celebrate on Christmas?
Jesus was born on Christmas.
Yes! Advent is the season when we look forward to the coming of Jesus. Each Sunday from now until Christmas, we will light a candle on the Advent wreath to remind us that we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Jesus was no ordinary baby and his birth was no ordinary birth. So each Sunday we will learn more about the mystery of who Jesus really is.
Long, long before Jesus was born—almost 800 years before—the prophet Isaiah wrote about him. Listen to Isaiah’s words, and pay special attention to the names Isaiah says Jesus will have.
Read Isaiah 9:1, 6-7.
What great names: Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. I’m sure you know what a prince is.
The son of a king.
And do you know what a prince does when he is older?
He will be the king, and he will rule the country.
Exactly. But as the Prince of Peace, Jesus is not just a prince of some country—he is the Prince of Peace for the whole world! Now here’s another question: What do kings do?
They make the laws, and they are in charge.
That’s right. And do kings have to take orders from other people?
Now let’s imagine that many years ago a king and queen decided to travel. What would they ride in?
Probably a chariot with beautiful horses to pull it. And these days, what would they ride in?
An airplane . . . or a fancy car.
Absolutely. And when they got to their destination, how would they be greeted?
Lots of people would be waiting to serve them.
Yes, that’s how it would be. Now let’s hear what the Bible tells us about how Jesus, the Prince of Peace, traveled, and how he was greeted.
Read Luke 2:1-8.
Why did Mary and Joseph decide to travel?
Because the governor told them they had to.
So even though Mary’s son was a Prince, Joseph and Mary couldn’t do whatever they wanted to do?
Did you hear any mention of a chariot?
That’s right—Mary and Joseph probably had to walk. Maybe Mary got to ride on a donkey.
But were there servants to greet them?
No. When Mary, the mother of the Prince of Peace, got to Bethlehem, there was no one to greet or to help her. But then something very special happened. What was it?
Jesus was born.
Was there a doctor or anyone there to help Mary?
No. If he was the Prince of Peace, why didn’t God send someone to help?
That is part of the mystery. The Prince of Peace was born with no one there to help or even notice. But this was part of God’s plan. Let’s light the first Advent candle to honor the Prince of Peace, who had to obey an order given by a Roman governor.
Last Sunday we learned one of the special names of Jesus. Do you remember what it was?
Prince of Peace.
Right. Today we will learn another name for Jesus. Let’s hear what God tells us about him in the words of the prophet Isaiah written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.
Read Isaiah 9:6-7.
Isaiah wrote that this baby would reign on David’s throne, and that God himself would put him there. What do we call a person who sits on the throne?
Yes, Jesus would become a king. Where do kings live?
In beautiful palaces.
And what kind of clothes do kings wear?
Beautiful robes with velvet and fur.
And where would a baby in the palace sleep?
He’d have a special room and a fancy cradle with ribbons and lace and silk.
Let’s listen to what the Bible tells us about the place where Jesus was born and what he slept in.
Read Luke 2:4-7.
Where did the baby Jesus sleep?
In a manger—in a barn.
You mean a manger that animals eat from? That doesn’t sound right. Why did Jesus’ parents have to be in a barn? Why didn’t they go to a motel or an inn?
Because there wasn’t any room in the inn.
Can you understand why Jesus, a king God told people about hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, would have to sleep in a manger in a barn? Doesn’t it seem like God would take better care of him?
Maybe that’s a mystery too!
It seems that way, doesn’t it? Maybe by Christmas we will understand it better. For now, let’s light the second Advent candle to honor this baby who had to sleep in a manger in a barn but who was also a King appointed by God.
This is the third Sunday of Advent. The first week we found out Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Do you remember what name for Jesus we talked about last week?
He was King.
Yes, he was a King and a Prince. Today we’ll find out more about who Jesus is. King David wrote about Jesus almost one thousand years before he was born. Listen to what David wrote about Jesus:
Read Psalm 110:1-2.
David wrote that God will give Jesus a mighty scepter. Do you know what a scepter is?
Is it something a king holds in his hand?
Yes, a king holds a scepter to show he is powerful. A king gives commands, and people have to do what he says. When a baby who will be king is about to be born, people are usually waiting eagerly to find out as soon as it happens. And when the child is born, the celebration begins. Kings of other nations send gifts and congratulations. It’s front-page news—a big deal. Let’s find out from the book of Luke just how Jesus was honored.
Read Luke 2:8-14.
Does it seem as if there were reporters wanting to know about Jesus?
Did anyone in the village of Bethlehem make a fuss over Jesus?
There were no reporters, no messages from other kings, no celebration at all in the barn or around it. But that isn’t the whole story, is it? What happened out in the country?
An angel appeared to some shepherds. And then after that there was a huge group of angels singing, “Glory to God”!
Right—it wasn’t newspapers or television or trumpets announcing that Jesus was born, but God’s glorious angels. God was making a spectacular announcement. And who did God choose to hear the announcement and to see the angels?
Some shepherds, who were out in the fields taking care of their sheep.
God announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds? Not to the king of the country or even to the Roman emperor?
I wonder why God would choose such ordinary people to be the first ones to hear that Jesus was born. . . . What did the shepherds decide to do after the angels left?
They decided to find out if what the angel had told them was true. They went to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger. Then they praised God and told everyone about what they had seen and heard.
That’s right. Why God chose the shepherds to hear the good news is part of the mystery. But that’s how God planned it! Let’s light the third Advent candle as we share the joy and amazement of the shepherds.
It isn’t very long until Christmas. Are you looking forward to it?
So am I. This is the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last one before we celebrate Christmas. I’m sure you remember that Advent means waiting for Jesus’ coming. In the last three weeks we learned that Jesus was the Prince of Peace, and also that he was a King with a mighty scepter. Today we will learn something else about Jesus. He was even more than a Prince and a King. Let’s listen to what the Bible says about Jesus in the book of Genesis.
Read Genesis 1:1, 26-27, 2:7.
Who created the heavens and the earth, including Adam and Eve?
God! That’s right. And what does God’s creation include?
The earth, the stars and planets, the plants and the animals—the whole universe. God also created Adam, and that means all the people in the world.
How did God create all this?
So God created the solar system, the orbits of the planets, black holes, gravity, stars, and galaxies. What does all this teach us about the One who created it?
It shows how great the Creator is to make such a complicated and beautiful creation.
It’s more than we can understand, isn’t it? Let’s hear a little more about the Creator from the gospel of John.
Read John 1:1-13, 14a.
Who is the Word?
That must mean Jesus, who became a baby and lived on earth.
So Jesus is also the Creator! Let’s hear more of the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke.
Read Luke 2:17-18, 20.
The shepherds visited Jesus because the angel had told them good news of great joy—a Savior had been born in Bethlehem! But do you think they knew who this little baby lying in a manger really was?
No way. They couldn’t possibly understand that this baby created everything! And I don’t really understand it either.
I don’t think any of us completely understands it—it’s part of the mystery of God we’ve been learning about. But it’s OK if we don’t understand everything. The important thing is that we listen to what God tells us in God’s Word, the Bible. Let’s light the fourth candle and bow our hearts to adore the Creator who was a baby in Bethlehem.
Christmas. It’s here at last! Did it seem like a long wait?
It was a long time to wait to open my presents!
Today is the special day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Do you remember what we’ve learned about who Jesus is?
He was a Prince, a King with a mighty scepter, and he was the Creator.
Today we are going to learn another name of Jesus. Let’s listen to what the angel told Joseph before Jesus was born.
Read Matthew 1:20b-23.
The angel told Joseph that the baby’s name was Jesus. Why that name?
Because the name “Jesus” means “The Lord saves,” and Jesus would save people from their sins.
The angel also said he would have a name we haven’t talked about before. What name was that?
Immanuel—God with us.
So now we know Jesus will be called “Immanuel” and that he will save people from their sins. That doesn’t seem to go along with what we’ve learned so far about the baby Jesus. Let’s listen again to part of the story of Jesus’ birth.
Read Luke 2:15-20.
The angel said this baby would be called “Immanuel, God with us.” So was this baby really God?
That must be true.
But if God is all-powerful, and God knows everything, and is majestic and holy, how can God be here in the form of a helpless baby? Now we are face to face with another part of the mystery. What did Mary, Jesus’ mother, do?
She wondered about all these things in her heart.
That’s right. As she took care of her newborn baby, feeding him and cuddling him in her arms, she must have wondered how this baby could be the Creator of heaven and earth. It’s part of the mystery. Why do you suppose Jesus was willing to come to earth as a helpless baby? Listen to this clue from the gospel of John.
Read John 3:16.
Jesus became a baby because God loves us. That’s the answer to the mystery. God loves us!
Right. Because God loves us, Jesus, God’s Son, gave up his majesty and glory to become one of us. As we light the Christ candle, let’s worship Immanuel, God with us.