This afternoon I did a Christmas themed assembly at our local junior school on the theme of crackers and chocolates:
What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?
- the presents
- the parties
- a special time with my family
- the food
- singing Christmas songs
- the magic of it all
Most of us look forward to something at Christmas. The anticipation (the looking forward) is sometimes as much fun as Christmas itself!
Pick some children to come up to the front. How do you feel to have a cracker in your hand? (Try to draw out feelings of excitement and anticipation.) How much do you want to pull the cracker and see what’s inside? What do you expect to find inside? Now pull your cracker. (Let the children enjoy the contents!) What do you think of what’s inside?
Crackers are really exciting because the contents are a surprise. Sometimes we’re pleased with the gift inside, sometimes disappointed.
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Jews were excited about the coming of a Saviour.
At that time, their enemies had attacked their land and taken them all away as prisoners. They were forced to settle down in a foreign country. They were homesick. They longed to go back to their own land, their own villages, towns and homes.
A man called Isaiah told them about a coming Saviour who would set them free. Isaiah said:
‘For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.’
Wow! A child. Mighty God! Prince of Peace! Endless peace! No more suffering! Freedom from exploitation! The people must have been so excited. The anticipation must have been too much to bear! A million times more exciting than holding a cracker in your hand!
The birth of the baby Jesus was the fulfilment of the prophecy Isaiah had made many years before.
Here’s a recap of the Christmas story:
A long time ago, God made the Galaxy, beautiful, rich, wonderful. And filled it with people, people he made, people he loved, people like you and me, people who were all special to him. And he gave these people everything, all kinds of FRUIT SKITTLES. Everything except one tree, one Fruit Pastille others which they were told not to eat.
But the people wanted to do things their own way, so they did a BREAKAWAY from God. Trouble is, after the breakaway everything started to go wrong. Really really ROCKY. Suffering, pain, loneliness, bullying, violence, death. Because we’d chosen our way instead of God’s way.
Everything just got really HARIBO (horrible). So to give them a BOOST God promised that things would change. One day a special person would come and put things right, I’m telling you the truth, I’m not LION.)
Many years later, a girl called Mary heard a WISPA, from an angel who said that she would be the Mother of God’s son. But how could this be? She was not yet married to Joseph. To have a baby now would be a TOPIC of conversation in the village. But before she could say CHOCOLATE COATED PEANUTS she was pregnant.
Poor Joseph. Well his brain was in a TWIRL and mush like MARSHMALLOWS and he had to take TIME OUT and have a lie down. As he slept, he had a dream, and an angel explained everything, and soon this became as clear as FOX’S GLACIER MINTS. And when he woke up he decided to have a WORTHER’S ORIGINAL to remind him og the good old days.
But before the baby arrived, political events overtook them – Joseph had to return to Bethlehem for the census – it was 80 miles away – a MARATHON (Snickers) journey, over stony hills which were CRUNCHIE under foot, and when you are pregnant it’s no bed of ROSES but Joseph thought the BREAK would do her good.
When they arrived, Joseph tried to find lodgings, but CLUB after CLUB let them down – No room they all said. Eventually they were offered a little out house – it was there that the little baby was born. He was named Jesus, which means Saviour. He was laid in a manger, lined with hay and STRAW (Sherbet straw!)
And though Joseph was a bit confused, he was a good egg, you couldn’t hope to meet a KINDER man (Kinder Egg), so he decided to look after Mary, and God’s baby.
So the story goes that Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem. Mary was heavily pregnant, and Joseph wondered if she’d FLAKE out on the journey.
They finally found a room full of animals – might not have been a stable, sometimes people lived in a house with a split floor, animals on one level, people on the next, so maybe the innkeeper let them into his home. We don’t know what sort of animals were there, but by morning there was Jesus NESTLEing in his mothers arms.
All sorts of strange visitors started to turn up.
That night, some shepherds, heard holy music makers, MINSTRELS in the sky. “Glory to God in the Highest”. The shepherds decided to take a break (KIT-KAT) from looking after the sheep. Let’s GO and see what’s happening in Bethlehem. So straight as an AERO they headed for Bethlehem to find Jesus. And they were there in a JAFFA.
When they were there they found the TRIO, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, who was lying in a manger. It was not at all a NICE place; smelly and dirty – not really a fit place for a maternity ward. They were however UNITED in their wonder, they REVELled at the thought that this child was special. Could this be just as the prophets had foretold – was this the LION of Judah? It was getting late, AFTER EIGHT, in fact – so the shepherds returned to the hills – huffing and PUFFIN and singing praise to God as they went.
Meanwhile in a far country, some SMARTIES, wise men were busily scanning the GALAXY, when they saw a STARBURST near the MILKY WAY. Was it MARS? No it was a special STAR – signalling the birth of a King. They travelled long and hard over TOBLERONE mountains and reached Herod’s Palace – they were not embarrassed to HOBNOB with royalty.
Herod was very interested – “A King has been born?” – He didn’t believe them and called theM ALL TEASERS, but just to make sure – he tried to FUDGE the issue by saying that he wanted to go and worship the baby – and told the wise men to report to him on their way back. Herod was extremely dangerous to know, not the type of person who would give you his last ROLO or share his CHOCOLATE ORANGE. The wise men travelled until the found Jesus and they brought out their KINGTSIZE gifts, no TWIX, just BOUNTY: GOLD, frankincense, and Myrrh. Then God warned them in a dream that Herod was up to his TWIX again, seeking the child’s life. So they took the TIME OUT to return by another route. Herod sat in his sumptuous palace, seething and plotting and grabbing handfuls of JELLY BABIES and biting off their heads, a terrible sign of what was to come.
Now that’s the familiar story – the CLASSIC tale, told at Christmas. It has little to do with reindeer and FLAKES of snow and robins and a baby in a clean crib decorated with tinsel. The original story was not that NICE. Jesus was born a refugee, he was a threat, a danger – don’t miss the meaning.
Jesus was born so that ALLSORTS of people, RANDOMS might know God’s love for them. Many people are looking for meaning and purpose – some kind of REFRESHER in life – a BOOST in difficult times. The Christmas Story really is cause for CELEBRATION, Jesus is no MINATURE HERO!
But what a surprise! A mighty king born in a stable? With poor parents? There were lots of different reactions to Jesus’ birth.
- King Herod, the man who was king when he was born, tried to kill him.
- Many Jews were disappointed and couldn’t believe that Jesus was the one promised long ago. They said, ‘What a letdown! A King? No way! A Saviour? You must be joking!’
- Other people knew that God can work in surprising ways. They came to worship the newborn king.
Time for reflection
Today there are still lots of different reactions to Christmas.
Some people love it; others hate it.
Some people look forward to it; others worry about it.
Some people have too much to do; others sit at home alone.
Some people celebrate the birth of Jesus; others do not.
thank you for Christmas,
for all that we are looking forward to this year.
Help us to remember those who are not looking forward to Christmas.
Help us to be there for them.