My family had many Christmas traditions growing up. We’d put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving—colored lights and handmade ornaments from elementary school. My mom would put on the hangers, and my sister and I would decorate the tree. Then there was that year we let my dad and brother do the decorating, and they put on the lights and tinsel running vertically instead of around the tree horizontally. As much as we appreciated their creativity, their decorating privileges were revoked. We baked cookies and went to a church service on Christmas Eve. We had a nativity scene made of wooden blocks that fit together like a puzzle. I remember sitting at the fireplace with my brother and sister and talking about the story of Jesus’ birth.
According to a 2010 survey by LifeWay Research, 81% of people who celebrate Christmas agree that family traditions are the most important part of Christmas to them. However, only 28% of people who celebrate Christmas tell the Christmas story from the Bible.
As a kid, I knew that Christmas was about Jesus. I knew it was a time we celebrated His birth. But I was a kid, and honestly, I cared a lot more about the presents than a baby in a manger. I didn’t understand the significance of the event. I knew that Jesus was God’s Son, but I didn’t get the whole story. Jesus’ birth seemed like just the beginning, rather than a pivotal fulfillment in God’s plan of redemption that was set in motion as soon as Adam and Eve sinned.
As kids have been learning so far in The Gospel Project for Kids, God was working throughout history to bring about the redemption of people through the life, death, and resurrection His Son, Jesus. God chose Him before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). The entire Old Testament whispers, “He’s coming … He’s coming … He’s coming … He’s coming … ” And the declaration of Luke 2 is, “He’s here!”
While kids experience the three-year chronological study of the Bible, they will pause each year to hear about the story of Jesus’ birth. If you are a teacher, some kids may come to your class at Christmas for the first time. Some may never have heard the story of Jesus’ birth. Be sure to read it from the Bible. Help kids understand that this isn’t just a random story. God kept His promise to send a Savior.
For younger kids, talk about where Jesus was born. God had promised to send a King. Was a manger any place for a king? Talk about the announcement from the angel in Luke 2:10-11. Jesus’ birth is good news! God sent Jesus to be our Savior. For people who need saving, nothing is greater than the coming of a Savior. Dig deeper with older kids to explore why Jesus was born. Read Galatians 4:4-5. God sent Jesus to buy for us freedom we could not buy ourselves. We were slaves to sin, but Jesus paid the price—the high price of His own blood—to set us free so God could adopt us as His very own children.
If you are a parent, start a new tradition this year. Read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible (Luke 2:1-20). Let older kids read the story to you. If you sing Christmas songs such as “Joy to the World” or “Away in a Manger,” take some time to talk about the words of the songs and what they mean.
Traditions are great! What are your favorite family traditions? How do you celebrate Jesus’ birth? Share your ideas in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Note: Each year of The Gospel Project for Kids contains three Christmas-related sessions. The first year’s sessions are found in Volume 2, “A Nation Is Born.” If you haven’t yet purchased the Winter quarter, you can download a Christmas session for free when you sign up for the Pilot Program (a free look at the first four sessions).