In our house, we have a countdown to Christmas thingy. It has little doors you open for each day of December. (Some have pockets, flaps, etc.) Usually I just hide candy in there, and each day, my kids open the door, eat the candy, and know that they're one day closer to Santa coming.
This year, I'm really struggling with my kindergartner to remind her of the true meaning of Christmas. She's obsessed with the idea of presents, Santa Claus, the little Elf on the Shelf, etc.
It's my husband's fault. (OK, OK, it's totally my fault, too!) After all, we're the ones who've been asking her, "What do you want for Christmas?" or, "Be good! Santa's watching!"
Now I'm kicking myself for not instilling in her a better grasp of the knowledge that the greatest gift of all is the one that God gave us.
Anyway, back to the countdown to Christmas thingy:
This year, thanks to two really great friends who inspired the idea, I'm going to put sections of the Christmas story straight from scripture into each day's slot. (Yeah, I'll probably add candy in there, too!)
After some time spent on internet searches, as well as lots of passage look-ups on Bible Gateway, I typed out 24 sections of the Christmas story that I'm going to just cut into strips, fold up, and stuff in. That way, each day as we count down to Christmas, we also will read and talk about its true meaning!
I want to be able to share this with anyone who would like to use it. It's all ready to go, so all you have to do is print and cut!
If I was more technological, I would probably know how to attach a Word document to this blog, but since I don't, here it is below. If you'd like to have the Word doc sent to you (it's nicer looking, I promise), just send me your email address and I'm happy to do it!
1 John 1:1-5
1The Word that gives life was from the beginning, and this is the one our message is about. Our ears have heard, our own eyes have seen, and our hands touched this Word. 2The one who gives life appeared! We saw it happen, and we are witnesses to what we have seen. Now we are telling you about this eternal life that was with the Father and appeared to us. 3We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us. And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4We are writing to tell you these things, because this makes us [a] truly happy. 5Jesus told us that God is light and doesn't have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you.
6A child has been born for us. We have been given a son who will be our ruler. His names will be Wonderful Advisor and Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace. 7His power will never end; peace will last forever. He will rule David's kingdom and make it grow strong. He will always rule with honesty and justice. The LORD All-Powerful will make certain that all of this is done.
Isaiah 11:2-3, 9
2The Spirit of the LORD will be with him to give him understanding, wisdom, and insight. He will be powerful, and he will know and honor the LORD. 3His greatest joy will be to obey the LORD. This king won't judge by appearances or listen to rumors. 9Nothing harmful will take place on the LORD's holy mountain. Just as water fills the sea, the land will be filled with people who know and honor the LORD.
14The LORD said: I made a wonderful promise to Israel and Judah, [a] and the days are coming when I will keep it. 15I promise that the time will come when I will appoint a king from the family of David, a king who will be honest and rule with justice.
5When Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest by the name of Zechariah from the priestly group of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was from the family of Aaron. [a] 6Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded. 7But they did not have children. Elizabeth could not have any, and both Zechariah and Elizabeth were already old. 8One day Zechariah's group of priests were on duty, and he was serving God as a priest. 9According to the custom of the priests, he had been chosen to go into the Lord's temple that day and to burn incense, [b] 10while the people stood outside praying.
11All at once an angel from the Lord appeared to Zechariah at the right side of the altar. 12Zechariah was confused and afraid when he saw the angel. 13But the angel told him: Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John. 14His birth will make you very happy, and many people will be glad. 15Your son will be a great servant of the Lord. He must never drink wine or beer, and the power of the Holy Spirit will be with him from the time he is born. 16John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God. 17He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah a]">[a] had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord.
18Zechariah said to the angel, "How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old." 19The angel answered, "I am Gabriel, God's servant, and I was sent to tell you this good news. 20You have not believed what I have said. So you will not be able to say a thing until all this happens. But everything will take place when it is supposed to." 21The crowd was waiting for Zechariah and kept wondering why he was staying so long in the temple. 22When he did come out, he could not speak, and they knew he had seen a vision. He motioned to them with his hands, but did not say a thing.
23When Zechariah's time of service in the temple was over, he went home. 24Soon after that, his wife was expecting a baby, and for five months she did not leave the house. She said to herself, 25"What the Lord has done for me will keep people from looking down on me." a]">[a]
26One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee 27with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. 28The angel greeted Mary and said, "You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you."
29Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant. 30Then the angel told Mary, "Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you, 31and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. 33He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end."
34Mary asked the angel, "How can this happen? I am not married!" 35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God's power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. 36Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. 37Nothing is impossible for God!"
38Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said." And the angel left her.
18This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David's family. But before they were married, she learned that she was going to have a baby by God's Holy Spirit. 19Joseph was a good man [a] and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding. 20While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. 21Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, [b] because he will save his people from their sins."
22So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, 23"A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel," which means "God is with us." 24After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord's angel had told him to do. 25But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus.
39A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40She went into Zechariah's home, where she greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby moved within her. The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. 42Then in a loud voice she said to Mary: God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. 43Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? 44As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. 45The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.
46Mary said: With all my heart I praise the Lord, 47and I am glad because of God my Savior. 48He cares for me, his humble servant. From now on, all people will say God has blessed me. 49God All-Powerful has done great things for me, and his name is holy. 50He always shows mercy to everyone who worships him. 51The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud. 52He drags strong rulers from their thrones and puts humble people in places of power. 53God gives the hungry good things to eat, and sends the rich away with nothing. 54He helps his servant Israel and is always merciful to his people. 55The Lord made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his family forever!
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she went back home.
1About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books.
3Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. 4So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David's hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David's family.
8That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. 9All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. 10But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. 11This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. 12You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay."
13Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: 14"Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God."
15After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about." 16They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay. 17When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. 18Everyone listened and was surprised.
19But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. 20As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.
2Bethlehem Ephrath, you are one of the smallest towns in the nation of Judah. But the LORD will choose one of your people to rule the nation-- someone whose family goes back to ancient times. a]">[a] 3The LORD will abandon Israel only until this ruler is born, and the rest of his family returns to Israel. 4Like a shepherd taking care of his sheep, this ruler will lead and care for his people by the power and glorious name of the LORD his God. His people will live securely, and the whole earth will know his true greatness, 5because he will bring peace.
1When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king. During this time some wise men [a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2and said, "Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east [b] and have come to worship him."
3When King Herod heard about this, he was worried, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. 4Herod brought together the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?" 5They told him, "He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote, 6'Bethlehem in the land of Judea, you are very important among the towns of Judea. From your town will come a leader, who will be like a shepherd for my people Israel.' "
7Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star. 8He told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too."
9The wise men listened to what the king said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10They were thrilled and excited to see the star. 11When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh a]">[a] and gave them to him. 12Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they went back home by another road.
14The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.