Jesus is the Heart of Christmas 

After the lighting of the Advent Candle:

Merry Christmas! 

The time has finally come, it is Christmas Eve. Tonight we join a long line of Christ-followers who have, for centuries, remembered the arrival of God through the birth of his son, Jesus. If you have had the pleasure to be around anyone who is under the age of 10 for the past few weeks you would not need to be reminded of the wonder of this night and of the hope, peace, joy, and love that it ushers into our busy, hectic, distracted, and chaotic lives. For those of us without children or grandchildren we may need to jog the memory of that sense of mystery and expected pleasure that Christmas morning is supposed to bring, at least it does in the movies. 

What I hope we can manage to create tonight is the sense of amazement the birth of Jesus really contains. It is a story that many of us have heard over and over so it is going to take some decluttering of the mind and some transformation of the imagination for many of us. 

Right now I would like everyone in the room to take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds and then exhale slowly. We are about to go back in time and recall what happened on Jesus’s birth day.

I am going to need some assistance. Would any of the children like to come up front and give me a hand?

This tree looks naked, I think we need to decorate it and get it ready for Christmas. Would you mind hanging up the ornaments and helping me to make it look Christmasie? 

Vince Guaraldi Trio – O Tannenbaum

Thank you everyone, give yourselves a hand! 

Oh wait a minute, something is missing!

It is the most important part of all – what do you think it is? 

That’s right! The star on top of the tree.

Just like this Christmas tree, if we are not careful, the most important part of Christmas can be left off as well. We can have all of the other parts in place, but if we are missing what tops it all off, we are missing the point. We could have snow falling to the ground, turkey and ham for dinner, hot cocoa by the fire and perfectly wrapped gifts, but if we don’t remember Jesus, it is like a Christmas tree without a star on top.

The Christmas story in the Bible tells us how important Jesus is as well. Tonight we are going to read about His birth and the hope, joy, peace and love that is offered to us. Are you ready? 

A long time ago there was a place called Bethlehem. It was a small village town that was the hometown of a man named Joseph. Joseph was about to be married to a young girl named Mary. This couple lived in a different town called Nazareth. But one day they were told that they would have to travel all of the way to Bethlehem to report in to the government. So, Joseph and Mary made the long journey to Bethlehem. There was only one problem. Mary was pregnant and ready to have her baby at any moment. This trip would be long and difficult already, but trying to do it while pregnant, that was a real challenge.

Luke 2:1-7 “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Amy Grant – Little Town (Lyric Video)

Mary and Joseph could not find a place to sleep for the night, so they had to stay in a stable with the farm animals. Can you imagine sleeping in a stinky stable? P U! But that is where baby Jesus was born. They wrapped up God’s gift in cloths and laid Him in a manger which was a long trough that animals ate their food out of. This was the first Christmas. God’s son had come into the world to bring hope, joy , peace and love, but no one noticed. Like missing a star on top of the tree, it wasn’t Christmas if Jesus was missed.

Karol Clark – Mary Did You Know track high key Am

There were, however, a few people who were told about the really important thing that had taken place in Bethlehem. They were shepherds in a field watching over their sheep in the middle of the night. Everyone say, “Baaa!”. (Kids respond) When suddenly there were angels in the sky speaking to them.

Luke 2:8-15 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 

for KING & COUNTRY – Angels We Have Heard On High- Animated Video

The shepherds were afraid when they saw the bright light from the angels in the sky. You would have probably been scared too. It’s not every day that you see an angel! 

But the angel told them to not be scared because the angel had brought them good news. Do you like good news? What is some good news that you have been told? (Kids respond)

Well the good news that the angel brought was about the birth of Jesus. Remember the little baby laying in the manger in Bethlehem? He had come from God and was the Messiah. The Messiah was someone that God had promised long ago who would come and fix all of the broken things in the world and give hope, He would forgive us for all the wrong things we have done and give us joy, He would make us right with God and give us peace, and He would come to be with us forever and give us love. 

Well, when the shepherds heard about this good news, they had to go see it for themselves. They hurried off to Bethlehem to find Jesus. While the rest of the world missed the good news about Jesus’ birth, the shepherds paid attention because Jesus is the heart of Christmas. The Bible tells us what happens next when they found him.

Luke 2:8-15 “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

When the shepherds arrived at the place where baby Jesus was, they were amazed. There was Mary and Joseph, the barn animals and the shepherds all standing around with Jesus wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. Everyone’s eyes on Him. He was the center of the whole story. Christmas was all about Him. Like a star placed at the top of the tree or a perfectly wrapped gift held in our hands. He was where all of the attention was focused. 

This is how it should be for us as well. The Christmas season is about one thing and one thing only. We get to join the shepherds, the animals and Mary and Joseph to see Jesus at the center of it all. He is a gift that is given to us by God that can change our lives when we take notice of Him. 

But one of the most important parts of the story is what the shepherds do after they meet Jesus. What do they do? (Kids respond) That is right, they go and tell others about what they have found. 

When we believe that Jesus is the center and heart of Christmas, we need to do what the shepherds did and tell others about it. The angels called the birth of Jesus, “good news”. 

Have you ever been given good news about something? What did you do right away? 

You told someone else, didn’t you? 

Good news travels fast and it is worth sharing with others. Jesus is such good news that we need to tell our family, friends and people at school about the gift given to us by God.

Zach Williams – Go Tell It on the Mountain (Official Music Video)

You see when people give gifts and receive gifts at Christmas it is because they want to share the love that they have for each other with one another. 

So gifts are a great way to show someone how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them. God sent us Jesus for the same reason. He loves us.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

The Bible tells us that Jesus is a gift that comes to us from God. When this gift is received and opened by believing in Him, our lives are changed. When we trust Jesus with our lives, we are given hope, joy, peace and love in our hearts and we get to live with God forever when our time here on earth is done. 

What a wonderful gift Jesus is! 

Better than anything else that we could dream of. 

How crazy would it be to get a gift at Christmas and never open it? 

They would be unheard of, right? 

The same thing is true for Jesus. God has given Him to us, we would be missing out on so much to not open that gift by putting our trust in Jesus. So, let’s go to God right now and pray and let him know how thankful we are for the gift of His son and that we receive it.

 “God, I believe that you sent Jesus to be the greatest gift ever given. I know that if I believe in Him and trust my life to Him that I receive so much in return. Thank you for giving us hope, joy, peace and love. For those of us who have received this gift, help us to share it with others too. Amen”

London Symphony Orchestra – Silent Night