Journey to the Manger: Wise Men and Gifts

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

We worshiped the King with the Wise Men today on our Journey to the Manger.

Wise Men Give Gifts

Wise Men Give Gifts

The Wise Men came to worship and honor the King God revealed to them in the stars. Before they set out to travel, they chose several gifts of significance, worthy of royalty. When they finally reached the humble place the child lived, the men from the east still fell to their knees in reverence and respect. They were in the presence of God Himself.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

– Matthew 2:10-11

So much of our focus at Christmastime is on the presents. We stress over getting everyone the perfect gift, and then paying for it all. Children write up their Christmas lists, as if getting everything on them means it’s been a great holiday. The malls are packed, traffic is snarled, and we are exhausted.

The tradition of gift-giving that Christians draw from the example of the wise men is all about the worship and adoration of the Savior. Yet, we have made the heart of Christmas about us instead of Jesus.

Today, the kids and I spent time considering what we could give to Jesus. Inside a wrapped gift were objects that represented ways we could worship Jesus. For instance, a musical instrument symbolized worshiping God in song, and we sang “Jesus Loves Me” as a gift to God. A bedtime toy reminded us we could honor God by giving Him our dreams and future. Monopoly money showed we could give God our change to be used in ministry. We looked at the hands and feet of a doll to brainstorm how we could use our feet to go and hands to serve and help others. We read a book together because growing in our knowledge of God shows how much we value our relationship with Him.

God gave us what we could never deserve in 10,000 lifetimes: His One and Only Son. God’s love is immeasurable and His grace unsurpassed. Jesus is altogether worthy of our absolute worship and praise.

What can we personally give to honor Jesus this Christmas?

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Christmas Countdown Day 11: Christmas tree creativity

Our Advent Scripture passage is Mark 1:1-3.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You,
who will prepare Your way.

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make His paths straight!

Today felt a bit like Christmas Eve. Our family activity took a bit of preparation, so I spent time creating and wrapping and looking forward to the kid’s reactions.

It all started with wrapping cereal boxes with felt and securing the edges with hot glue. By the end, customizable Christmas trees emerged.

Felt board Christmas tree

Felt board Christmas tree

On the back of the felt board, I glued a plastic sack to keep all the felt pieces together.

On the back of the felt board, I glued a plastic sack to keep all the felt pieces together.

As an added touch, I wrapped up the gifts and placed them under the tree.

Gifts under the Christmas tree

Gifts under the Christmas tree

When Lauren woke up from her nap, she didn’t even realize the gifts were there. It was about half an hour after Jackson arrived home from school when I heard him shout, “What!?! Mom, there’s presents!!”

Later in the evening after dinner, we gathered together to read our Advent verses. Jackson worked to move along the conversation, because his attention was under the tree.

Jackson and Lauren created their own Christmas trees, again and again.

Jackson and Lauren created their own Christmas trees, again and again.

The kids loved their felt board Christmas trees! I lost count of how many different Christmas trees they each created.

Anticipation is key to gift giving. That’s why as kids we couldn’t sleep Christmas Eve. We knew when we woke up there would be presents under the tree. I can’t tell you how many times Jackson walked slowly past the presents this afternoon and would “subtly” mention them in an attempt to change my mind about when he could open his. Anticipation often makes the arrival that much more sweet.

Maybe that’s why God sent John ahead of His Son to prepare the way. He again drew hearts to God, helping people to look forward to the Messiah with renewed passion. The Kingdom of Heaven is near, John proclaimed. He created a longing for those suffering from injustice and unending, man-made religious rules that God Himself would soon arrive to bring freedom. The One foretold would soon be.

How can you help create anticipation in your home for Jesus’ arrival this Christmas?