We're Teaching This
It’s Christmas. Nativity scenes are everywhere. You know, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, and the drummer boy (who wasn’t actually there). Maybe you grew up seeing these scenes and wondered what they were all about. Or maybe you’ve heard the story a million times. Either way, there’s another story we bet you haven’t heard, characters you barely know, scenes you don’t see in the plastic nativity on your neighbor’s lawn. As we explore two often-untold parts of the Christmas story, we discover that God had something bigger in mind from the very beginning. And, just as it was true for those at the first Christmas, He may just have a bigger story in mind for us as well.
Think About This
by Reggie Joiner
You are inviting kids and teenagers into a bigger narrative—one where they are designed to play a significant role.
Why do you think…
Luke Skywalker in Star Wars,
Frodo in Lord of the Rings,
Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia,
and a boy named Harry
have such an appeal to the hearts of kids?
It’s because they remind us of…
the struggle between good and evil.
the existence of a supernatural and miraculous power.
the potential to be personally restored and transformed.
Why do you think the same themes are recycled so many times?
Maybe it’s simply because the idea of story originated with God.
If every story was written by an author who is created in God’s image, maybe that’s the reason so many reflect His ancient narrative.
No wonder stories inspire us.
No wonder stories incite faith.
No wonder stories give us hope.
Isn’t that the kind of perspective you want kids and teenagers to have about this world? Don’t you want them to know life’s connected to a bigger story where God is the Author?
A bigger story perspective...
prepares them to face whatever happens.
compels them to take risks and do something significant.
moves them to keep believing that good will ultimately win.
Life will be hard.
It will be harder for some than for others. The only guarantee in everyone’s story is there will be conflict.
That’s why everybody loves a good story. You latch onto someone who is going against the odds. You identify with their struggle to push through.
Did you know the script for Harry Potter was written during J.K. Rowling’s darkest hour?
Here’s how she describes that time in her life: “An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless…I was the biggest failure I knew. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
So, Rowling captured the imagination of a generation with a story.
The story of a boy named Harry—an unusual boy, marked for a specific destiny from birth.
As he discovered his true identity and embraced his purpose, he grew in wisdom and strength. His closest friends followed him everywhere, facing grave opposition, but they could not always understand what he understood. They could not follow him into the very final battle against an evil enemy, where he entered into death itself…and defeated it. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Regardless of what you think about Harry, you have to agree.
Stories are powerful—especially when they reflect God’s story.
Stories over time matter—especially when they come from parents and leaders who care.
So, do whatever you can to amplify the best stories around you.
Stories can make history for a child. Stories can transform his or her perspective. They can make life fuller, faith deeper, and hope stronger.
Stories over time move us to imagine a world beyond ourselves.
Fictional stories have incredible power to help students imagine. But real stories are just as important. The stories of family help kids and teenagers understand where they come from and where they belong.
Christmas provides more opportunities to remember your real family story than any other season. It seems nearly every tradition, every dish, and every ornament comes with the story of someone who mattered or a moment in your family history, but in the busyness of it all, those stories are often lost. This Christmas, try creating a tradition of storytelling. Maybe for your family that means…
• asking your teenager to tell you his or her favorite Christmas memory while you hang lights.
• sharing the story about special ornaments as you put them on the tree.
• visiting the grandparents and asking them what the holidays were like for them.
• reading the original Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) as a family.
Every family has a story. In fact, every family has lots of them. This Christmas, share some of yours with your kid and ask him or her to do the same. You may just find you’ve started a tradition of connecting in a whole new way.
©2016 The reThink Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Think back to your first day of school. When you showed up to your classes or finally made it to the lunchroom
that day. The first thing you probably thought was, Where am I going to sit? Maybe you moved towards the popular kid. Or maybe the smart kid. Or the funny one. Or maybe even the quietest kid in class. No matter where you ended up, you were choosing where to sit based on one thing: What the other person had to offer you. And if you think about it, that’s an approach we use in a lot of places in our lives. With our families, our friends, our small groups—we tend to move towards people who can make our lives better. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, when we focus only on people who have something to offer us, we’re not only missing out on some incredible people, but also on some incredible things God has for us. Jesus had an upside-down way of engaging people who could offer Him little. And if we can put on His lens for seeing others and follow His lead in serving them—no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they can do for us—we’ll find that it’s not just the lives of others that will be changed, but our lives that will be changed as well.
Reconnect with each other, share a high and a low from the past week.
Talk about a time when someone did something for you, and you had nothing to offer them in return?
In your opinion, what’s the point of serving?
Why does serving take courage?
Matthew 25:34-40 New International Version
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In your opinion, what’s the point of serving?
Why does serving take courage?
How does serving change the way we see people?
In what ways are serving others and loving God connected?
If you were encouraging someone else to serve, what would you say?
As a small group, what’s one way we could serve others with no strings attached?
God of all Creation, we praise you for creating this world in all beauty, for redeeming the world through Christ, our Lord, and for sending us the gift of your Spirit to encourage, instruct and sustain us. We long for your Spirit to work among us now, to inspire us, to challenge us with your truth, and to equip us for service in the world. And together as your people we say, AMEN.
Mark the Cross of Christ on each others foreheads as a remembrance of your baptism and say these words...
"(Name) you are a beloved Child of God."
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Each week we will post one or more blogs related to our ministries for High School youth and families. Check back often and leave a comment!