The Angels’ Announcement
The Point: Jesus came for our salvation.
Get Into the Study
Use the following story as an alternate introduction and Question 1.
Recently, U.S. News reported on the top 30 locations of 2018-2019 to visit in the world. Stunning locations like Paris, Florence, Greece, Bali, and Yellowstone National Park were all mentioned. Simply clicking through the photos of each location could give even the most reluctant traveler the urge to pack their bags. The views, the cities, the mountains—travel brings the hope of a vacation full of adventure and relaxation.
We often think of travel in terms of vacation—of escaping our daily lives and responsibilities. But Mary and Joseph’s travels to Bethlehem were quite the opposite. As a matter of fact, that journey must have felt like a horrible, ill-timed hassle, especially for Mary. She must have wondered—even worried—about traveling to a different place so late in her pregnancy. But God was at work all along. Bringing Mary to Bethlehem meant that Jesus would be brought into the world in the city where God had always planned for Him to make his arrival! It echoed the words of the prophets, proclaiming, again and again, the truth of Jesus’ lordship.
How often are we confused or bewildered by a situation that simply feels like a huge hassle, only to later realize that God was at work?
Alternate Question 1: What is the craziest trip you’ve ever taken?
Ashley Emmert is a freelance writer and full-time mama from Chicago, where she lives with her husband and her new baby boy. You can find her on Twitter at @ashgemmert, or failing to update her blog at ashleygraceemmert.blogspot.com.
Study the Bible – Optional Activity
After reading Luke 2:1-7, display a blank Form 1040 as an object lesson. Download it here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf. Ask: What are your immediate feelings when you see this form? Why? Emphasize that, as stressful as tax season is for us, it can in no way compare with how disruptive the census must have been for Joseph and Mary. But God used the census as His instrument to direct Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem at the precise time and place for Jesus to be born. (Optional activity from Senior Adult Leader Guide, p. 53).
Study the Bible – Optional Activity
After discussing Question #3, display a Nativity set with Mary, Joseph, a shepherd, and an angel, or click here and display one of these images. Break into four subgroups and provide a character to each group. Encourage them to work in their groups to create a backstory for their figure. Say: Talk about how the person might have felt that night and how they saw God at work. After a few minutes, let a volunteer from each group share his or her story. Talk about how God put all the pieces into place according to His plan and purpose. Note that this means two things for believers today: They can trust God with their lives, and they have an incredible message to share with others. (Optional activity from KJV Adult Leader Guide, p. 56.)
Live It Out
Share the following story as you begin the Live It Out section.
The wildfire known as Camp Fire ravaged the town of Paradise in northern California in early November. More than 80 percent of the homes were destroyed and at least 88 people killed by the fire. Businessman Bob Wilson read the news of the destruction and wanted to help the children of Paradise. After researching various methods of giving, he settled on the gift of money. Wilson decided to give each student and staff member at Paradise High School a check for $1000. He chose this gift because “they can spend it however they need.” Wilson hand-delivered the generous gift, which totaled around $1,100,000.
While a $1000 check from a stranger, with no strings attached, may seem almost too good to be true, we Christians have received a far better gift.
Invite volunteers to read the following verses: Romans 3:23-24; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:3-10.
Too good, but still true, the gift of salvation has been freely given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. This Christmas look for opportunities to tell others about this gift. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide you in sharing your faith.
Nikki Wilbanks is a graduate of Pepperdine University, where she studied literature. She lives with her husband and two children in Murfreesboro, TN.
- What is the most tiring trip you’ve ever taken?
- What is the most meaningful part of Christmas for you?
- What is your favorite and least favorite part of the entire Christmas season?
- What are some practical reasons Mary and Joseph might have traveled to Bethlehem together?
- How can we better “make room” for Christ in our lives at Christmas and throughout the year?
- What factors do you see coming together to fulfill prophecies about Jesus in the Christmas narrative?
- Why is it significant that shepherds were the first ones to receive Jesus’ birth announcement?
- What thoughts and emotions must have been running through the minds and hearts of the shepherds?
- How can we share Good News, peace, and the glory of God to those who don’t have a relationship with Him?
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Here’s a brief video giving you an overview of this session: The Full Picture of Christmas, Session 4.
This article complements the study. Share this link with your group members.
- Mature Living – The Kindest Christmas Question