It is so important
that we take time to help our children see beyond the glitter of the
Christmas season and teach them the true meaning of Christ's birth - the
most thrilling story ever known to man began in Bethlehem at Christmas ...
Many years ago in the town of Nazareth a young woman called Mary was praying. An angel named Gabriel appeared to Mary.
"Fear not, Mary, for God has favoured you. You will bear a son and call him Jesus. He will be great. His Kingdom will never end."
An angel also visited Mary's fiancÚ, Joseph, while he was dreaming. The angel told Joseph the news and asked him to look after Mary and the special baby.
Mary and Joseph were soon married and they shared a great feast with their family and friends. Joseph was a carpenter and he made lots of wooden toys for the baby. Mary sewed swaddling clothes and blankets for the baby.
Soon it was time for the baby to be born, but Jesus was not going to be born at home. A Roman emperor ordered that people must return to their home town in order to pay their taxes. Joseph came from Bethlehem, which was around seventy miles from Nazareth.
Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem even though the baby was nearly due. Mary packed the things for their journey. They set off for Bethlehem. Mary was able to ride on a donkey. After several days Mary and Joseph reached Bethlehem.
The streets were crowded, as many people had come to pay their taxes - and
all the inns were full!
"No room at the inn!" said the innkeepers.
Mary was very tired, but a very kind innkeeper took pity on Mary and Joseph and showed them to his stable.
"You can sleep here if you wish - my animals will help keep you warm"
Mary and Joseph prepared a place to rest in the stable. They filled a manger with straw to make a crib ready for baby Jesus. During the night the baby was born.
At this time, on a hill
outside the town, some shepherds were sat guarding their sheep. They heard
singing. Then the angel Gabriel appeared. The shepherds were frightened.
"Fear not," said the angel "for I bring you tidings of
great joy. Jesus our Saviour is born this very night in Bethlehem."
The shepherds were thrilled
by the good news. They left their sheep and went into Bethlehem to find
the baby. They were guided to the stable by a bright light in the sky.
When the shepherds found baby Jesus they knelt down before him in wonder.
Many miles away in the
East, three wise men saw a shining star. They knew the star was a
special sign and they set off to follow it. Caspar, Melchior and
Balthazar followed the star for many days. The star led them to
The wise men found Mary
and Joseph and the baby Jesus. They knelt in worship and brought gifts
of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
When the people of Bethlehem saw this they also knelt in worship. The
people were filled with joy now that Jesus their Saviour was born.
that special day, Christians all over the world remember the birthday of
Jesus. This special day is known as Christmas. At this happy time of
year people give thanks to God, and carols are sung in Church.
Christmas greetings and
gifts are sent to family and friends and houses are brightly decorated
with coloured lights, sometimes these are hung on an evergreen tree.
Families enjoy sharing a special Christmas celebration dinner together.
"Away In A
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
the stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky,
and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.
No Christmas song is
more loved than this tender children's carol. With its simply worded
expression of love for the Lord Jesus and trust in His faithful care, the
hymn appeals to young and old alike. It is usually one of the first
Christmas songs learned in early childhood; yet its pleasing melody and
gentle message preserve it in our affections all through life.
For some time
"Away in the Manger" was titled "Luther's Cradle
Hymn." It was thought to have been written by Martin Luther for his
own children and then passed on by German mothers. Modern research
discounts this claim, however. Stanzas one and two first appeared in the
Little Children's Book, published in Philadelphia in 1885. The third verse
was written by a Methodist minister, John T. McFarland, in the early 1900s
when an additional stanza for this carol was desired for use at a church
children's day programme.