#1: When God says: "Surprise!"
#2: Angels We Have Heard
#3: 4th Advent Reading for Children
When God Says:
A kids' talk based on the Gospel lesson
by Rev. F. Schaefer
Greetings my little friends; today I want to talk about surprises. Sometimes we
surprise someone we love with a birthday party; do you know what I'm talking about?
When you invite a bunch of people and they all hide in the living room,
behind the couch and behind chairs and everywhere. And then the person whose
birthday it is comes home and everything is dark and suddenly the lights come on and
everybody yells: "Surpriiiiiiiiise!!"
Have you ever been part of such a surprise party? Have you ever surprised
somebody? Or have you ever been surprised by someone?
Surprises come in all forms and sizes. They can be good or bad. I'll give you an
example of a bad surprise: every Christmas, it seems, something broke during my
childhood days; in one year it was the fridge that broke and we all ended up cooking all
the food we had in the freezer so it wouldn't go bad. And in another year the washer
broke and there was water everywhere and we had to help pick it up with buckets and mobs.
A surprise is something that happens that you weren't expecting to happen.
This morning we find Mary and Joseph very much surprised. They are surprised by
God. They had been living their lives, making plans to get married and then make a
home for themselves, when suddenly God said: "Supriiiiise!"
And God gave them a baby before they were even married. And of course, we all
know that was baby Jesus. But, the thing is, Joseph and Mary weren't ready for a
baby yet. They didn't have any money for it, they didn't even have their own home
But the thing is, whenever God says "surprise" to someone, God also makes a
way for that person. God's surprise looked bad at first for Joseph and Mary, but God
worked things out for them.
And that's a wonderful thing to know: that those like us who belong to God don't have
to be afraid of anything that happens to us. Even though life has its surprises, we
can know that God will be with us, helping us through and making things better.
And so, every Christmas in my childhood home, God helped us through the surprises of
broken fridges and washers, and by the time holy night came around we were all celebrating
God's great surprise gift of baby Jesus.
Can we all say thank you for God's surprise gift of baby Jesus this morning?
Let us pray: "Dear God, we want to thank you for being with us and
for helping us through any surprises in life. Help us to remember that especially in bad
times. And thank you for your that biggest surprise gift of all times--baby Jesus,
who is the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Amen."
Angels We Have Heard On High
by Rev. F. Schaefer
Props: angel figure from a manger scene (be aware that many
crèches don't even feature an angel anymore)
Today, I brought a(nother) piece of my nativity scene (introduce your angel figure by
having it fly in from over your head). No guesses needed here. That's right,
I got Mr. Herald Angel here. Who of you has a manger scene at home? Is yours
under the Christmas tree? You know, some manger scenes don't come with an angel any
longer; do you remember if your manger scene--if you have one--has an angel?
Well, I'm glad that mine does, because I think that the angels are very important in
the Christmas story. Maybe you can help me remember some of the angels in the
Christmas story? OK, let's see, we have three shepherds, a sheep, Mary, Joseph, baby
Jesus, three wisemen, a cow and a donkey. Who of them talked to an angel in the story?
(Encourage their answers, if no answer, start prompting)...the sheep? Did the sheep
talk to an angel? (shake your head slightly to encourage the no answer) What about the
shepherds? Yes, that's how they knew about Jesus.
The angel told them (hold up your angel). What about Joseph? Yes, an angel
told Joseph that Mary was supposed to have baby Jesus. He told him to take care of
Mary and baby Jesus (and, of course, an angel told him in a dream to flee to Egypt
later). What about Mary? Yes, you're right, Mary had a vision of an angel
too. The angel told her that she would have a baby. He told her that she
should name him Jesus, and that Jesus was a very special child--that he was going to be
the Savior of the whole world, that he was going to show people a new way to God.
You see already, why I think that angels are important in the Christmas story.
They were very involved in it. In fact, it looks like the angels were working
overtime on that first Christmas. Who of you would like to meet a real angel some
day? I wonder what that would be like. Do you suppose that you'd be a little
frightened when all of a sudden an angel pops up right in front of you--out of
nowhere? Well, Mary was a little frightened at first, but then the angel said:
"Don't be afraid, Mary, I bring good news." Angels are nice. They
are God's helpers. What do you think, should we say thank you to God this morning
for angels? OK. let's bow our heads for prayer:
Prayer: Thank you, God, for sending your helpers, the angels, to Mary and
Joseph and the shepherds. Without their help there may not be a Christmas to
celebrate. Thank you God for sending angels to watch over us, too. Help us
not to forget your angels this Christmas. Amen.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT: Mary Nobody had less occasion to step upon
history's stage than a woman, too poor, so young, and still unmarried. No one had less
hope against the shock of a man disappointed in his choice of s bride. No one had less
claim upon the orders of Caesar Augustus. No one had less reason to be noticed by God. It
was not wealth and position that gave her the title of the mother of a king, and it was
not purity of thought or diligence of work or depth of understanding that acted as a
magnet for the attention of the creator. Rather it was the intention of the creator that
found a way unique and humble for this event to enter upon history's stage. And when the
creator chose to be among the people, the creator chose a particular people, humble and
poor, and a specific, very young woman, and a precise moment in the fullness of time, and
the star shone, and the shepherds and wise men gathered, and the angels sang.