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Pastoring Your Family Christmas Sunday Morning

 Village Dad’s & Head’s of Household,

It’s my privilege to serve you through the teaching of the Word most Sunday’s here at The Village, but as you know, this Sunday is all you.  The Elders trust you to lead your families well this coming Christmas Sunday morning, and we trust you will.  I also trust you’ve been considering what you might share with your families this coming Christmas Sunday morning, but I thought I’d pass along my basic game plan to you in case you’d like some help getting your legs as you get prepared to lead your families this Christmas.  While I’m sure you have many of your own Christmas traditions, my hope is these simple thoughts will be of help to you should you want or need them.  I look forward to hearing great stories in the days and weeks to come of the Spirit-filled, Christ-centered Christmas you had with your family this coming Christmas Sunday morning.

The BIG IDEA:  One of my goals every Sunday morning is to help focus us all on a Big Idea I sense God has for us as a people, and as the people of God.  The Big Idea is normally the main thrust of the sermon, and may be communicated through songs, interviews, media, etc, as well (primarily through the Word).  There is so much good stuff to communicate on any given Sunday, but the Bid Idea is meant to help us concentrate on a main truth in manageable measure.

The BIG IDEA for our family Christmas is this:  He has come, He is coming, and He is coming again.  This Christmas I want my family to understand that Jesus has come, that He is coming into our lives everyday (including that day), and that He will be coming again for us someday (hopefully soon).  I want them to see the consistency of our great God, His faithfulness, His unchanging nature, His reliability, His integrity, His dependability.  There’s so much I want to communicate to my family this Christmas, but it’s unrealistic that I’ll be able to get it all in, just like it’s unrealistic that I can get in everything I want to say on a given Sunday morning (as much as I try).  But, what I can do is discern what I sense God wants to say, do my best to say it the best I can, and trust Him to do with it what He will, leaving the rest for another day, and for a great God who can communicate anything He wants, anytime.  This ONE idea, wrapped up in these three ideas, is all I plan to bite off this coming Christmas Sunday morning.

The MAIN STROKES:  One of my goals every Sunday morning is to help us focus on a few Main Strokes, key points, main thrusts, usually connected to a particular passage of Scripture (right now from the Gospel of Mark).  When preaching an Exegetical Sermon, these Main Strokes are taken straight from the text of Scripture itself.  When preaching a Topical Sermon (or having a topical discussion, like I will this coming Christmas Sunday morning), the Main Strokes are taken from a big idea communicated in the breadth of Scripture, each being connected to THE Big Idea of the sermon and morning.

The Main Strokes for our family this Christmas will keep our discussion moving along chronologically as the Main Strokes of a Sunday message do on any given Sunday morning.  The Main Strokes for our family Christmas are:

(1)  It Was Christmas  (He Has Come)

  • In this section, I plan to start by asking my kids to tell me the Christmas story, in their own words.  This can work for kids of any age, even as old as college age, etc.  Of course, expect more from your 18 year old than your 18 month old.  This might take a few minutes, and you might have to help them along, fill in a few details, etc.  But, try to let them do as much as they can on their own.
  • I’ve found over the years that allowing your kids to use a Nativity scene is really helpful.  Let them use the characters to tell the story (One year our girls had the entire living room set up with different scenes.  It was amazing).  If you don’t have a kid-friendly Nativity scene they can play with, get one, even if it’s just for this one morning a year.  You won’t regret the $20.
  • After they’ve had time to share, I plan on reading the account staring in Luke 1:26-38, then Matthew 1:18-25, then Luke 2:1-21, then Matthew 2:1-12.  If you have young children, I’d use Matthew 1:18-2:12 to keep things short and sweet.  You know best how to gauge your kids.
  • I plan to hit Isaiah 7:14 quickly, to remind my kids that Jesus came, just as He said He would.  He is trustworthy, reliable, sure, true.
  • In the midst of communicating this truth, I’m not ignoring the reason He came – to save us from our sins (Matt.1:21).  This will be included in my Christmas morning to be sure, as it should in every Christmas morning.  What I am doing is connecting this essential reality to the Big Idea like this: He has saved us (justification), He continues to save us (sanctification), and He will save us one day (glorification).
  • I plan to end this section by listening to and signing together, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.”  I plan to use the version by Chris Tomlin on his Glory In The Highest album.  For smaller children, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” works well.  Choose your artist, or go solo.
  • If you have really small kids, you may not be able to listen to the entire song, or get through all of this.  If not, listen to part of it.  Take what you can.  Don’t get frustrated.  Do the best you can.  God will use it.

(2)  It Is Christmas  (He Is Coming)

  • In this section, I plan to ask my kids how they have sensed the presence of Jesus recently in their lives.  Again, this can work for kids at most any age.  For younger kids, you may have to suggest ways in which they may have sensed His presence, or just give them some examples from your own life (better be ready, they’ll ask you). 
  • After they’ve had time to share (with my help if they’ve needed it), I plan on staying in Matthew, reading Matthew 28:18-20.  What I have in mind here is reminding them that Jesus said He would always be with us…..always.  The same Jesus that said He would come and did, will always be with us, coming into everything in our lives everyday.  He has been reliable, and He will be still.
  • I also plan to hit John 14:13-17 quickly, reminding my kids (who know Jesus), that He is not only close to them, but His Spirit dwells within them.  You can’t get much closer than that!
  • I plan to end this section by listening to and singing (as much as we can), “You’re Here,” by Francesca Battistelli.  You can also use “Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground),” by Chris Tomlin, also on his Glory In The Highest album.  This song will likewise emphasize the reality that God is with us.
  • Again, if you have really small kids, you may not be able to listen to the entire song or get through all of this.  If not, listen to part of it.  Take what you can.  Don’t get frustrated.  Do the best you can.  God will use it.

(3)  It Will Be Christmas  (He Is Coming Again)

  • I plan to start this section out by asking my kids if they’re looking forward to Christmas next year.  They’ll probably laugh and think I’m being silly, but I plan to ask them about all the things they’re looking forward to most about NEXT Christmas.  I’ll ask them about that they know will happen next Christmas, and what they hope will happen next Christmas.  I’m doing this for obvious reasons – they’re already counting on Christmas coming next year, and in the same way (greater actually), we should be counting on Jesus coming again.
  • After they’ve had time to share I plan on reading John 14:1-4, then John 14:18-21, then Revelation 21:1-7.  Revelation 19:11-16 is incredible as well, but needs to be age appropriate for your kids of course.  If you have a kids Bible that touches the return of Christ, you may want to think about using that, even for kids who are a bit older.  Sometimes images from Revelation scare kids of any age (adults too).
  • After reading Scripture together, I plan to ask my kids what they look forward to most about Jesus returning.  They may not have a great context for this, so I plan to share some of my own thoughts to ‘prime the pump’ if need be.  I’d be encouraged to hear 2-3 things from each of my kids.  For younger children, one cute hope will do.  Take what you can and encourage them in it.  One of the things I’ve found that helps kids related to the second coming of Jesus is the first coming of Jesus.  Tie some of the concepts of Revelation 21, especially verses 3-4, to some of the stories you talk to you kids about in the Gospels.  Help them see that the greatest things about the ministry of Jesus will be true in the greatest of ways when He comes again.  They can sometimes get a better handle on a concept like that then the tattoo on His leg and the sword coming out of His mouth in Revelation 19.
  • I plan to end this section by listening to and singing (as much as we can), “Come Though Long Expected Jesus,” by Chris Tomlin, also on his Glory In The Highest album (As you can see, if you download this album you’ll have a song for every section here).
  • Again, if you have really small kids, you may not be able to listen to the entire song or get through all of this.  If not, listen to part of it.  Take what you can.  Don’t get frustrated.  Do the best you can.  God will use it.
THE RESPONSE:  One of my goals each Sunday is to help us respond appropriately to the things I sense God is saying to us as a people, and as the people of God.  Part of that response is usually singing, prayer, giving and receiving Communion.  There are other ways to respond to be sure, but these are generally at the forefront.

The Response for our family this Christmas will include these four as well.

  • We would have already spent time singing together.  If my kids desire to sing more, we will.  If not, I’ll be thankful for the signing we did have together, and move to prayer.
  • I plan to ask each one of my kids to give a prayer of thanks, one thanking Jesus for the fact that He came, one thanking Jesus for the fact that He is coming, and one thanking Jesus for the fact that He is coming again.  If you don’t have three kids, you pick up one or two.  If they can’t quite express it, help them.  Lead them in it.  Encourage them with whatever they’re able to express to Him.
  • I also plan to talk together with my kids about what Jesus is calling us to give in the coming year, how we determine that, and how we will do it.  In the midst of a morning where we have all given, but mostly received, I want my kids to know that giving is an act of worship, and is the first priority for our family in the way we use the money He has entrusted to us, not buying presents.
  • I plan lastly to share Communion together with my family.  I plan to use 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 to ground our time here.  This is a great section that ends with “proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes” (He Is Coming Again).  Like me, if you have a younger child who doesn’t yet know Jesus, explain Communion to them as best you can.  Emphasize remembering Jesus.  Allow them to eat something they really like, helping them to participate even if they’re not sharing the elements themselves.  This will help them not feel left out while still encouraging a reverence for the Lord’s Supper that they’ll look forward to.  I plan to end that time, and our time as a whole, with a prayer of thanks, thanking Jesus for coming, for continuing to come, and for coming again.

Ok.  That was a mouthful, but I pray helpful.  This may feel overwhelming, but there’s not as much too it as it might seem here on paper.  I’ve just tried to give you some of my own input advice, etc.  Take what you want.  Leave what you want.  Use what you want.  Use something different altogether.  BUT, make sure Jesus is the central focus for your family and in your home this Christmas.

He has come.  He is coming.  He is coming again.

Merry Christmas.

Pastor Matt