At Christmastime our thoughts and hearts turn to a little Baby born in Bethlehem. All through history and all over the world, people join in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Artists have painted wonderful pictures of what that time might have been like. Musicians have composed beautiful music praising His coming. Authors have written interesting stories and books to share their feelings about Christmas. We sing songs about the birth of Jesus. We send cards to each other expressing our joy that He came to earth. We set up nativity scenes with shepherds and Wise Men and Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus to remind us that Jesus came to this world as a baby and to celebrate this great event.
The birth of a baby is a wonderful thing, but we celebrate the Savior’s birth for a very special reason. It has to do with Easter. Without the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate at Easter, no one would celebrate Christmas.
Baby Jesus was the One all the prophets promised would come into the world to be our Savior and Redeemer. He came to earth to show us how to live. He came to earth to die for us so that we could live again with our Father in Heaven. We are so grateful to Jesus Christ for what He did for us that we honor His birth by celebrating Christmas. With great joy, we also honor His resurrection by celebrating Easter.
There is another day we are going to celebrate: the day when Jesus Christ will return to earth. Hosts of angels will be with Him then, too. The same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem, was crucified, and was resurrected, will come to earth again.
After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, angels promised His Apostles that He would come again (see Acts 1:2–3, 9–11). Modern prophets have also told us about the day when He will return (see D&C 29:1, 11).
When the Savior comes again, He will bring peace for the nations. He will bring safety and joy for all the righteous. Those who love Him will be prepared to meet Him at that day. We can prepare now by keeping His commandments and by following His example. We can prepare by showing love for others and by listening to the whisperings of the Spirit.
Instructions: Make a three-sided picture box of the reason we celebrate Christmas.
Mount page 37 on lightweight cardboard, then cut around the wood frame.
Fold along the broken lines, and glue the left edge of the left picture to the tab on the right side of the right picture.
Glue the top and bottom panels in the order shown on them.
Place the picture box where it will remind you every day of the Savior—of His birth, Resurrection, and Second Coming.
Jesus Christ was born for me.
Jesus Christ will come again!
Jesus Christ suffered and died for me.
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
1. To learn more about what life will be like in the Millennium, when Christ returns to earth to reign for a thousand years, choose 2 children to role-play TV news anchorpersons, and assign each class to choose a “field reporter” to report the class’s findings on the following subjects in the scriptures: • animals / Isa. 11:6–9; Hosea 2:18 • people / Isa. 54:heading, 3; Micah 4:4; D&C 63:50–51 • nations, government / Micah 4:1–3; Jer. 31:33; D&C 29:11 • miscellaneous—time of His coming / Matt. 24:36, 44; Zion and the return of the city of Enoch / D&C 45:66, 71; Moses 7:62–64. Have the anchorpersons make up questions for each field reporter to tell what his/her class learned about their subject. Tell the children that we do not know exactly when the Savior will come, but we must be preparing to meet Him (see Matt. 25:1–13). Sing “When He Comes Again” (CS, pp. 82–83) and discuss what the things are that we need to do to “be ready there.”
2. Post this wordstrip: What would you do to prepare if you … ? Pass out to classes/individuals these completions to the question: • want to grow your own fruits and vegetables? • want to bake chocolate chip cookies? • want to build a playhouse? • want to get 100% on your math test? • have an important guest coming for a few days? Have each class/child act out what they would do; let the other children guess what the preparation is. After the last one, say that someone important is coming. Sing “When He Comes Again” (CS, pp. 82–83), asking the children to listen for the things the song suggests that we do to prepare for the Savior’s coming (do His will each day, let our lights shine). Tell the story of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1–13) and ask what the “oil” was and how we get it in our lives (see “I Believe That Jesus Will Come Again,” Friend, Sep. 1995, p. 12). For younger children: Pass a flashlight while singing “Shine On” (CS, p. 144). When the music stops, whoever is holding the light turns it on and tells one thing he can do to let his light shine. Repeat till many children have had a turn.
3. Tell the story of the Wise Men (Matt. 2:1–11). Point out that the chief priests knew from the prophecies of old where Christ would be born. Tell how the Lord blessed the Wise Men—and also Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus (see Matt. 2:12–14)—so that they escaped from danger. The Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus. In many cultures, at Christmastime a child will hang up a stocking or put out a shoe (or whatever) to receive a gift. We give presents to each other at Christmas, but do we remember to give a present to the One whose birthday we celebrate? Talk about the kinds of gifts we might give to the Savior (reading the scriptures an extra five minutes each day, praying one more time daily, writing in our journals, bearing testimony to a friend, repenting of a sin or overcoming a shortcoming, forgiving an enemy, doing a kind deed, etc.). Pass out to each child a paper in the shape of a stocking, a shoe, a gift box, or whatever is appropriate for your culture. Have the children decorate the fronts of them, then write on the backs a gift they will give the Savior at Christmas (or they could write their gifts on separate pieces of paper and tape them to the backs of the objects). Children could also think of gifts they could give to Jesus and list them with the shortest line first and all lines centered to form a Christmas tree. They could invite their families to do either activity in a family home evening.
4. Make an Advent calendar focusing on some of the wonderful things that will happen before or at the Second Coming. It might be a Christmas tree with a scripture reference and song title from the CS on the back of each ornament. Each time you or a child chooses an ornament and turns it over, read/discuss the contents of the scripture, and sing the song. Possibilities: • [the gospel will be preached to all nations] Rev. 14:6; “I Want to Be a Missionary Now” (p. 168) • [truth will flood the earth] Moses 7:62; “The Church of Jesus Christ” (p. 77) • [the Ten Tribes will be gathered] A of F 1:10; “The Tenth Article of Faith” (pp. 128–129—or recite the article) • [the city of Enoch will return] Moses 7:63; [read Moses 7:18 to/with the children before singing] “Love One Another” (p. 136) • [Israel will be gathered] A of F 1:10; “The Tenth Article of Faith” (pp. 128–129—or recite the article) • [descendants of Lehi will receive the Book of Mormon] Enos 1:13, 16; “The Ninth Article of Faith” (p. 128—or recite the article) or “Search, Ponder, and Pray” (p. 109) • [righteousness will triumph] D&C 45:66, 71; “I Pledge Myself to Love the Right” (p. 161) • [every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ] Mosiah 27:31; “Beautiful Savior” (pp. 62–63). Tell the children that even though there will be some difficult times as the Second Coming draws nearer, we can look forward to these good things. The Lord has promised that if we are prepared, we need not fear (see D&C 38:30). The righteous will sing songs of joy because the Savior will dwell with us (see D&C 29:11; D&C 45:71). Sing “I Feel My Savior’s Love” (CS, pp. 74–75). For other Advent calendar ideas, see Friend, Dec. 1997, pp. 24–25.
5. Invite recently returned missionaries to share with the children how the people they taught remember Jesus Christ at Christmastime. Or invite families in the ward who have Primary-age children to share something special they do at Christmastime to remember Jesus Christ. Encourage them to bring items the children can look at or possibly handle.
6. Other Friend resources: “I Believe That Jesus Will Come Again,” Sep. 1995, pp. 12–13, 26; Sharing Time Ideas 1, 4, 5, Dec. 1995, p. 34; “Christmas Gift Tree,” Dec. 1996, pp. 24–25, 27. See also Gospel Principles, chapters 41–44.