More than 2,000 years ago Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. Joseph tried to find a place for them at an inn, but there was no room. They found a stable where Mary could give birth.
This was the first Christmas. There were no large family gatherings. There were no decorations. There were no brightly wrapped presents. But there were carols and singing and rejoicing. The angels in heaven joined in a great chorus of rejoicing and praise at the birth of the Son of God (see Luke 2:13–14). Heavenly Father gave us a great gift. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus gave us the gift of the Atonement and eternal life. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He gave the gift of a perfect example for us to follow. He showed us the gift of love and taught us to love one another.
We can also give gifts of service and love. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We can show our love for Jesus by keeping His commandments and serving others, not just at Christmastime but throughout the year.
Cut out the gifts on page 34 along the solid lines. Write your own gift activity on the blank one. Fold on the broken lines; then tape the lids down. Punch a hole at the top of each gift, and attach string. Hang the gifts where you can see them. Every few days, open a “gift” and do the activity inside. Remember, you can give these gifts throughout the year!
Speak kind words.
Read the Christmas story with a family member or friend.
Express gratitude by writing a thank-you letter.
Write your own gift here.
A Gift of Love
Note: If you do not wish to remove pages from the magazine, this activity may be copied, traced, or printed out from the Internet at www.lds.org. Click on Gospel Library.
(Note: All songs are from Children’s Songbook unless otherwise noted; GAK = Gospel Art Picture Kit, TNGC = Teaching, No Greater Call.)
1. Show a picture of the Last Supper (GAK 225). Before Jesus’ Crucifixion, He broke the bread, blessed it, and commanded that those who were with Him partake of it. Jesus gave His Apostles the sacrament so that they would have a way to always remember Him and His sacrifice and so that they could have His Spirit to be with them. The sacrament is a covenant to remember Him and to keep His commandments. Read together Luke 22:19.
Show a picture of Christ visiting the Nephites (GAK 316). Following His Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites on the American continent. During this visit, He taught the people how to prepare and partake of the sacrament. The Savior broke the bread, blessed it, and commanded that the disciples who were with Him partake of it. Read together 3 Ne. 18:6–7. The Savior also blessed the wine (we use water now—see D&C 27:2) and commanded the disciples to drink of it. Read together 3 Ne. 18:11. Jesus Christ taught the disciples that when they partook of the sacrament, they were renewing their baptismal covenants to always remember Him, to take His name upon them, and to keep His commandments.
Show the pictures of blessing and passing the sacrament today (GAK 603 and GAK 604). We can participate in the same ordinance that Jesus taught. The sacrament prayers tell us that if we remember Jesus Christ and keep His commandments, we will always have His Spirit with us. He wants us to remember Him so we can be strong and faithful. Read the sacrament prayers in Moro. 4:3 and Moro. 5:2.
Remind the children that without the Atonement, which we remember as we take the sacrament, we would not celebrate Christmas. To reinforce this teaching moment, sing “The Sacrament” (p. 72), “I’m Trying to Be like Jesus” (pp. 78–79), or a favorite sacrament hymn. If the song or hymn is new for the children, sing one line at a time and have them echo it back to you. Bear testimony that we can remember the Savior when we take the sacrament and try to become more like Him.
2. For younger children: Post the pictures suggested in idea #1 on the board in a vertical row and discuss each one. Above the pictures write “Sunday.” Discuss with the children ways they can remember Jesus. On Sunday we can think of Him at church, during prayers, during the sacrament, and as we sing Primary songs.
Divide the children into six groups, and give each of them a large strip of paper with one day of the week printed at the top (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday). Invite them to write or draw ways they can remember the Savior throughout the week (for example, forgiving others, keeping the commandments, being grateful). Post each wordstrip, and give each group a chance to show and tell their ideas. Remind the children that we can remember the Savior not just on Sunday, but throughout the week.
3. To prepare, invite a mother, father, and baby to portray Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child. (They could wear simple clothing in a biblical style.) Ask the mother to be prepared to sing “Mary’s Lullaby” (pp. 44–45). Use a sing-a-story (see TNGC, pp. 174–75) of favorite Christmas songs to teach children that Heavenly Father planned for Jesus to be born into a family. Older children could read the scripture references at the bottom of the song pages. Pictures from the GAK (200, 201, 202, 203, 314) or the Primary manuals (1-76 and 2-6) could be used.
Suggested sing-a-story—Sing: First verse of “The Nativity Song” (pp. 52–53). Tell: Many prophets testified of the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. Samuel, a prophet who came to Zarahemla, also foretold of His birth (see Hel. 14:2–6). Sing: “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus” (p. 36). Tell: God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary. He told her she would have a baby boy and should name Him Jesus. The baby would be the Son of Heavenly Father. One night an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him Mary’s baby was the Son of God and that he should marry her. Jesus would be the Savior of the world (see Matt. 1:18–21). Joseph and Mary were married, and he took care of her. Joseph and Mary had to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. The baby would be born soon (see Luke 2:2–6). Sing: “When Joseph Went to Bethlehem” (pp. 38–39). Tell: When they arrived in Bethlehem, they found a stable for Mary to have her baby in. And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger (see Luke 2:7). Sing: “Away in a Manger” (pp. 42–43). Tell: Joseph and Mary named the baby Jesus (see Luke 2:21). Have the mother representing Mary sing “Mary’s Lullaby” (pp. 44–45). Tell: While the shepherds were in the fields, an angel came to them and told them the Savior had been born. The shepherds went to Bethlehem and saw the baby Jesus. They were happy they had seen the Savior (see Luke 2:8–12, 15–17, 20). Sing: “Stars Were Gleaming” (p. 37). Bear testimony that Heavenly Father planned for Jesus to be born into a family. We are blessed as we sing praise to Him and remember Jesus Christ this Christmas. Sing “Picture a Christmas” (pp. 50–51).
4. To help the children understand how we can be spiritually prepared for Jesus to come again, copy and cut out enough oil lamps for each child and five or six extra ones (see Primary 7 manual, p. 86).
Show a picture of the Second Coming (GAK 238). When Jesus died and was resurrected, He promised that He would come again. Have you ever wondered what that will be like? Jesus has not told us when He will come, but the scriptures tell us that it will be a glorious event. He will be our King and Ruler. It will be a heavenly, happy time for us if we are prepared to meet Him.
Because Jesus wanted us to know how important it is to be prepared, He told us a parable, or story, of the ten virgins. Teach the children the parable (see Matt. 25:1–13), and help them to understand that this parable likens the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which is when the Savior will return to earth to rule during the Millennium, to a wedding (see Primary 7 manual, p. 84).
How can we prepare for the Savior’s coming? President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 256).
As you pass out the extra paper lamps randomly among the children, ask them to think of things they can do to add oil to their lamps. Sing “When He Comes Again” (pp. 82–83), and have the children pass the lamps back and forth. When the music stops, the children holding lamps should tell or act out a way they can prepare. Sing and repeat.
Pass out a paper lamp to each child. Let them draw or write on the lamps what they will do to prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming and take them home to share with their family.
5. Friend references: “Taking the Sacrament,” Aug. 2003, 34–35; “Remembering Jesus Christ,” Jun. 1999, 10–11; “In Remembrance of Jesus,” Apr. 1998, inside front cover; “When Jesus Christ Comes Again,” Dec. 2002, 34–35; “Jesus Christ Will Come Again,” Dec. 1999, 10–11; “When He Comes Again,” Dec. 1999, 35–37; Sharing Time #4, Dec. 2001, 22. These references and others can be found at www.lds.org. Click on Gospel Library.