The Bethlehem Night

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Many families read the Luke 2 account from the Bible on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning before opening presents. Which is a great idea.

The challenge comes when younger kids have excitedly waited for days to open their gifts and now it’s here and now Dad and Mom say they have to wait even longer. Yes, in a perfect world, the kids would understand that the biblical account is why we celebrate Christmas, but mostly that four-year-old is staring at that American-Girl-Sized or Lego-sized box and wondering if it could be that very thing for which she/he asked. And no matter how much expression Grandpa uses to read Luke 2, many (not all) younger kids will be dreaming about unwrapping the packages and not the road to Bethlehem.

We can get frustrated at our kids’ lack of seriousness and attention, or we can plan our family celebration so we aren’t creating a potential getting-upset-at-our-kids’ situation. Even if the kids DO sit quietly, many are still focusing on the gifts.

So why not start a new tradition and dedicate an entire evening (or other time of day) to focus on the biblical account apart from the present opening?

Here’s some things you could do …

  1. Read Isaiah 9, Matthew 2, and Luke 2 as a family. If your kids are old enough to read, assign them different passages. Practice with the kids before hand, helping them with meaning and pronunciation of words. This is especially important if you’ll have extended family visiting.
  2. Sing Christmas carols in between the reading. Choose carols that are biblically correct and have something to do with what you’ve read.
  3. Challenge kids (beforehand) to write poetry or to find a poem to read that will fit in with the Scripture. Give them opportunity to read or quote their poem that night.
  4. Write a song about Bethlehem, the shepherds, or the wisemen.
  5. Allow kids to role-play parts of the account.
  6. Give kids opportunity to explain the importance of the biblical account. (This could be especially effective if you have extended family visiting who reject Christ’s birth.)
  7. Talk about the importance of Christ coming to earth. (Philippians 2 is another good passage.)
  8. Research together a new fact about this familiar account. (Even adults can learn something they didn’t know before.)
  9. Remember that God sent His Son out of love. We are to reflect that love in the way we live our lives. You could have a family cookie baking party and take some cookies to the neighbors.
  10. Provide your kids with paper, markers, glue, etc., to draw what happened in Bethlehem.
  11. Look up Nazareth and Bethlehem on the map.
  12. Look up pictures of what Bethlehem/Nazareth looks like today. (This helps the kids understand that it’s a real place.)
  13. Find a good, biblically based book/DVD for kids that focuses on Luke 2. (But be extremely careful – a lot fictionalize facts.)
  14. Plan a Christmas quiz. Ask questions about Christ’s birth and give small treats out to those who answer correctly. (Make some of the questions easy for younger kids and some so difficult even adults will be challenged.)

Again, plan this special, focused celebration away from your family’s gift-giving time. You want your kids excited, attentive, and participating.


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