Bible stories

This Christmas lesson is structured a little differently from most of the other Kids of Integrity lessons. With this lesson, you can do as few or as many of the following “twelve days of Christmas” Bible stories and activities as you wish.

The Bible stories may be familiar from other Kids of Integrity lessons, but the related discussion questions have a Christmas theme.

Day 1: A lesson in harmony

Character trait: Harmony

Theme: God’s Spirit living in us brings us peace, and helps us live in harmony with others.

Lead-in activity: Wrap some gifts together. Wrap one empty box as a beautiful gift (this will serve as an object lesson later).

Bible story:
Pray to start your Bible story discussion time. First read Micah 5:4-5a, then pray along these lines:

Lord, You are Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of Peace. Please be our shepherd and fill every corner of our home with Your peace, because we want to stay close to You and to live in peaceful harmony with other members of our family. Amen.

Read Genesis 2:19-22.

Questions for discussion
  1. If you had been born in the Garden of Eden, what would be the best part about living there?
  2. Would you have enjoyed the job of naming the animals?
  3. How would it feel to walk and talk with God like you would with another person? (Wonderful? Scary? Both?)

If you wish, you could take a break here and have some fun pretending you’re in the Garden of Eden. Use a script that goes something like this:

Oh look! There’s a butterfly that looks like a rainbow! Try hugging this huge tree. What a fresh-looking stream! There goes an otter. Shall we see if he will let us pet him? Wow! I see some funny-looking fruit that look like banana berries. Who wants to try one? Look over there! I see a tiger! Who wants to take a ride?

Now read Genesis 3:1-13,20-24.

  1. How did Adam and Eve ruin the peace that existed between themselves and God?
  2. What kind of excuses did they make to explain why they had disobeyed God and eaten the one and only fruit God had told them not to eat?
  3. Have you ever done something wrong and tried to blame it on someone else?
  4. What do you think Adam and Eve said when God told them they had to leave the Garden of Eden? (That also meant they would not feel so close to God anymore.)
Key concepts

The words “Shalom aleichem” mean “Peace be with you.” “Shalom” is a word used in many countries as a way to say hello or goodbye. Can you say “Shalom”?

Today people all over the world are searching for shalom, or peace. Our sense of deep peace was lost when Adam and Eve were sent out of the Garden of Eden.

As much as God may have wanted to give Adam and Eve a second chance, Adam and Eve had sinned so they were no longer able to experience Shalom – the joy of being close to God and the peace that His presence brings.

It must have been very sad for Adam and Even when they had to leave the garden. I can imagine them calling back to God, “We’ll miss you so much!” And from what we know about God, I can imagine God was very sad too (Exodus 25:8; John 1:14; Revelation 21:3).

Adam and Eve eventually had children and grandchildren, but the children, and even the adults, bickered all the time, and people grew more and more wicked, until every thought they had was evil. The Bible records that God “was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:5-6).

That’s true for us today too. Our sin fills God’s heart with pain and it separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).

The good news is that God sent His Son, Jesus, who was born into the world that first Christmas, to die for us and take the punishment for all the wrong things we have done or said or thought. Now anyone who asks can have their sins forgiven and enjoy living at peace with God and in close relationship with Him (John 3:16, John 14:6, 1 John 1:8-9).

God wants to help us keep all the sin out of our lives so that we can stay living closely with Him, and so we can live in peace with others. And so, He sent us the Holy Spirit.

When we ask God to clean the sin out of our heart, God sends His Spirit to live in us, just like God lived with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We can’t see Him or smell Him or taste Him or hold Him, but the Holy Spirit is all around us – just like the air. God is delighted to give us His Holy Spirit whenever we ask Him. And the Holy Spirit brings us joy and peace, or shalom.

Now turn your kids’ attention to your brightly wrapped gift.

Gifts usually come from people who love us! This gift reminds us of God’s gift of peace that the Holy Spirit brings to us. Let’s pray and talk to God about His gift of peace.

Pray this prayer based on Jeremiah 24:7 and Romans 15:13, or pray another prayer of your own:

Lord God, thank you for the gift of shalom. We want You to be our God and we want to be Your kids! Please come and make our home like a happy garden where You can walk and talk with us. We want to turn away from our sin and obey You so that our hearts can be a place where You want to live. We confess ___________ (have family members confess personal sin aloud or quietly). Please send your Holy Spirit to fill us with Your love, joy and peace. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a small wrapped gift as a symbol of God’s gift of shalom. Use a tiny gift box, or wrap a small item such as an eraser or an empty matchbox.

Make it real

Put your brightly wrapped gift under the Christmas tree to remind your family of God’s gift of shalom through His Holy Spirit. Over the Christmas season, use the word “Shalom” as a greeting, but also as another way of saying, I forgive you or I want the best for you or I choose to let God’s Spirit bring peace to this relationship, or simply as a way to say, I love you.

Relevant Scripture

Jeremiah 24:7 “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Day 2: A lesson in joy

Theme: Joy is found in Jesus – not in “stuff.”

Lead-in activity: Make an interactive Nativity scene by dressing up dolls, teddy bears or other stuffed animals. (If you’re short on time, you could instead set up a store-bought Nativity scene or simply examine a picture of the Nativity.)

Later in this lesson you’ll need a drinking straw, and a spy glass for each child, made from a toilet roll tube. Together you’ll go looking for joy in all the “wrong” places.

Bible story:
To begin your Bible story and discussion time, pray this prayer based on Psalm 4:6-7:

Dear Jesus, we ask You to shine Your light on us today. Please fill our hearts with joy that is even greater than when we enjoy _________ (name a favourite Christmas treat). We want to love You more than we love anything else. Amen.

Read Luke 15:11-24.

Questions for discussion
  1. Why do you think the son wanted to leave home?
  2. Where did he go looking for joy?
  3. Did the son find joy in spending money and living wildly?
  4. What do kids think will make them happy at Christmastime?
  5. Where is the best place to look for joy?
Key concepts

Many people look for joy or happiness in the wrong places. They think that getting more stuff or having lots of fun or friends will make them happy. These things may be enjoyable for a while, but happiness doesn’t always last. Happiness depends on circumstances.

God does give us many good things to enjoy, but real joy comes when we have Jesus. And the joy Jesus brings us is lasting joy.

Because of Jesus, we have forgiveness of our sin, the strength to obey God’s Word, and the certainty that God loves us and that we will be with Jesus in heaven someday. All these reasons for joy are possible because of Jesus (Romans 5:10-11).

Give each child a “spy tube” made from a toilet paper roll. Search your house together using your spyglasses to find items that represent different things people try to find joy in. (For example, toys, money, entertainment, material possessions, yummy food and even other people.)

Each time you find an item, say “_____ might make us happy for a while, but lasting joy is found in Jesus!”

End your search back at your Nativity scene, where you’ll find Jesus – the “right place” to find lasting joy.

Read Psalm 21:6 and John 15:9-11 (see below), then pray together:

Jesus, we love You! We want to obey You and love You so that we can be full of joy! If we are tempted to look for joy in the wrong places, please remind us that real joy can only be found in You. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a mini spy tube as a reminder to look for joy in Jesus. (Snip a short portion off a drinking straw to make each spy tube.)

Make it real

Use your choice of craft supplies or Christmas wrapping to decorate your toilet-roll spy tubes. Take them along when you go shopping or on Christmas errands or outings. Take note of all of the wrong places you can look for joy. Each time a wrong place is identified, refer to Jesus as the right place to find joy.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 21:6 “Surely You have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.

John 15:9-11 “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Day 3: A lesson in courteous communication

Theme: We need say “I love you” not just in words, but in our actions too.

Lead-in activity: Take a break from your Christmas preparations by enjoying an outdoor activity in the cold (make a snowman, go skating or tobogganing), then warm up afterward with some hot chocolate or a warm bath.

Bible story:
Pray this sample prayer to start your Bible story discussion:

Jesus, Your word says “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). We don’t want to just say we love people; we really want to show others that we love them by the things we say and do. Amen.

Read Matthew 12:34-37.

Questions for discussion
  1. How do you feel when you say hello to someone but they don’t reply?
  2. How do you feel when you try to talk to someone but they ignore you?
  3. Have you ever been hit in the face with a snowball?
  4. What might one person say to another that would be like a snowball in the face?
  5. Can you think of something you can say that is like a cozy cup of hot chocolate?
  6. Would you rather be a friend who is cold and harsh with their words, or a friend who is warm and comforting with their words?
Key concepts

We communicate love to others when we treat them in a warm and friendly way (e.g., offer a friendly wave, make eye contact, say hello and express interest in them). On the other hand, we can be “cold” to one another by not smiling, by being less than friendly, or by failing to acknowledge someone else’s presence or ideas.

If someone is unkind or makes a mistake, we can make life hard for them by being unforgiving – or we can choose to be gracious by being loving and gentle in our response. Cruel or unkind things that we say to others can hurt far more than we know. But when we show love in our words and actions, the “warmth” we share with others can feel like it goes right down inside them.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Jesus, we believe You are God’s son! We want to obey You and we want to love others like You do! Thank you for the good gift of Your Spirit. During this busy Christmas season, help us through Your Holy Spirit so others see and feel Your love through us. We want Your love to show in the things we say and do. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a Hershey’s Kiss chocolate as a reminder to show love to others with words and actions.

Make it real

While interacting with each other over the holidays, use terms like “cold,” “icy” or “snowball in the face” to remind your kids how unkind communication impacts others. Affirm your children when they are gracious and kind by saying, “That felt like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day,” or “That was sweeter than a Hershey’s Kiss.”

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

1 John 3:23 “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.

Day 4: A lesson in forgiveness

Theme: Love forgives others for their sins.

Lead-in activity: Have fun baking soft, heart-shaped Christmas pretzels together. (See recipe provided below.) Sample both some hard, store-bought pretzels, and your soft pretzels, and discuss which you prefer.

If you’re short on time, simply purchase both hard and soft pretzels. Alternatively, you could buy ready-made dough to bake soft, heart-shaped pretzels.

Bible story:
Pray to start your discussion time. First read Ephesians 4:32, then pray along these lines:

Lord Jesus, the Bible says we should forgive each other, just as You forgave us. Sometimes this is hard, but we ask You to come and fill our hearts with Your love so we can love and forgive like You do. Amen.

Read Matthew 18:21-35.

Questions for discussion
  1. In this story that Jesus told, what did the king do for the first servant?
  2. Was the servant thankful?
  3. Why did the king become angry with the first servant?
  4. When do you find it hard to forgive?
  5. Have you ever had someone refuse to forgive you? How does it feel?
  6. Do you deserve to have your sins forgiven?
  7. Today’s Bible story reminds me of our pretzels. Were our hard pretzels salty or sweet?
  8. Do you like the taste of salt?
  9. Would you rather eat a little bit of salt, or a little bit of sugar?
  10. How does it feel when you get salt in a cut?
Key concepts

When someone has done something wrong, they usually feel badly about it. When we refuse to forgive them, it is like putting salt in a cut – it makes something that is already painful sting even more.

When we are impatient and refuse to forgive, we are like the hard, salty pretzels that have no flexibility or “give” to them. If we refuse to forgive someone, we can be called “hard-hearted.” And like the salt on the hard pretzel, we can cause someone extra pain.

When we are patient with others and willing to forgive someone, we are like the soft pretzels that bounce back when squeezed or under pressure. Our hearts are soft, and our attitude is flexible. And like the sweetness of the soft pretzels, there is sweetness in our relationships with others too.

We don’t deserve God’s love and we don’t deserve to have our sins forgiven. However, God is loving and gracious and He forgives us anyway. When we forgive others, it is as though we are giving them the same gift of grace and mercy that God gives to us.

We made our soft pretzels into heart shapes to remind us that God wants us to share His love with each other by forgiving each other.

Read 1 Peter 4:8 and Colossians 3:13 together, then pray together:

Jesus, sometimes our hearts get hard and all twisted up with ________ (anger, pain, jealousy) like a pretzel. Please keep our hearts soft and help us to be willing to forgive, even when we are ________ (hurting, angry, unhappy, disappointed). Is there anybody You want us to forgive right now? Please bring them to mind. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a hard, salty pretzel to serve as a reminder of the importance of being “soft-hearted” and willing to forgive.

Make it real

For the rest of the Christmas season, when you see someone in your family being hard-hearted toward another person, gently ask them if they are acting like a soft pretzel or a hard, salty pretzel.

Relevant Scripture

1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Christmas Pretzels Bread Dough Recipe
This recipe is designed for a bread machine, but can be used to make bread in the traditional way too.

2 cups white flour (Robin Hood Best for Bread is excellent)
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour (use white if you prefer)
½ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree or mashed potatoes or applesauce
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 ½ tsp yeast
3 tsp white sugar for sprinkling on top

  1. Add the ingredients in the order suggested by your bread machine manufacturer and run the “dough” cycle.
  2. When the dough is ready, place the entire batch of dough on a firm surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the entire batch of dough until it is approximately 1 cm thick.
  3. Use a knife to cut the dough into strips about 2 cm wide.
  4. Dampen your hands slightly, then roll the strips into “snakes” or “ropes” about 20 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter.
  5. Lay two ropes of dough of equal length side by side on your work surface. Pinch both ends of the dough ropes together (like two snakes with their heads and tails pinched together).
  6. Once the ends are joined, push the ropes apart to make an O shape. Then take one joined end and drag it into the centre of the circle to form a heart shape.
  7. Place the pretzels on a non-stick or lightly oiled pan.
  8. Spray or brush the pretzels with cooking oil and sprinkle them with sugar.
  9. Cover the pretzels loosely with plastic wrap and place them in a warm, draft-free place to rise until they double in size (1-2 hours).
  10. Bake at 425 °F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Store pretzels in an airtight container for up to three days. They also freeze well.

Day 5: A lesson in generosity

Theme: When we are generous, God gives us joy in return.

Lead-in activity: Have fun singing together The Twelve Days of Christmas. Then announce to your children that you are going to give them “the 12 candies of Christmas.” Let your children decide how to divide up the 12 candies, but throw in a couple of “bonus” candies, so that the candy won’t divide equally. Watch to see who is generous to others by being willing to accept the smaller pile.

Bible story:
To begin your Bible story and discussion time, read 1 John 3:15-17,20, then pray together:

Jesus, it is easy to want to keep things for ourselves. Would You teach us to share? We need You to help us get excited about giving things away. Amen.

Read Matthew 19:16-30.

Questions for discussion
  1. Was it hard to decide how to share out the candy?
  2. What did the rich young man brag about when he met Jesus?
  3. What did Jesus tell him?
  4. Then what did the rich young man do?
  5. Is it harder to share if you have a lot, or a little?
  6. What is the question Santa asks all the kids who come to sit on his knee?
  7. Do you think you need more toys, or do you just want more toys?
  8. Would Jesus want us to be more concerned about getting, or about giving?
Key concepts

The song that we sang, The Twelve Days of Christmas, goes on and on about the gifts someone got for Christmas. But God wants us to focus not on what we can get, but on what we can give to others. He wants us to care for the needs of others, especially those who have less than we do. He also promises to bless those who take care of others.

When we are generous, it honours God. When we are good to others, it is as though we are being good to God (Matthew 25:40). When we ignore the needs of others, it is as though we are neglecting God (Matthew 25:45).

Can you think of something you can do personally to help and bless someone else?

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Dear God, thank you for Your love. Please put lots of Your love in our hearts and teach us how to give it away to others. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a  favourite candy to remind everyone that God wants us to be generous to others.

Make it real

Make it a challenge to find creative ways to “give” to other family members each day over the Christmas season. Make your own The Twelve Days of Christmas song that focuses on what you gave to others, not what you received.

Another option is to gift some cash to your children (perhaps they can earn a little extra too) and let them choose a charity to donate the money to. To really stretch them, permit your kids to keep some of the cash if they wish, and challenge them to decide how much they will keep, and how much they will give.

Relevant Scripture

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.’

Matthew 25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’

Acts 20:35b “It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Proverbs 22:9 “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Day 6: A lesson in obedience

Theme: To love Jesus means to listen to Him and obey Him.

Lead-in activity: Go for a drive or a walk around your neighbourhood to admire the Christmas lights decorating people’s homes.

When you get home, play a game of Flashlight Hide and Seek. Hide in a darkened room, then turn on a flashlight beside you to help your children find you. Smother them with expressions of love when they find you! Each time you are “found,” share one of these verses with your children:

Jeremiah 29:13
John 8:12
2 Corinthians 4:6
1 John 1:5

Bible story:
To begin your Bible story and discussion time, read John 14:21, then pray this sample prayer:

Dear Jesus, we want to obey You to show You that we love You. Thank you for promising to love us and show Yourself to us. Amen.

Read Luke 2:4-18 and Matthew 2:1-2.

Questions for discussion
  1. What kind of birth announcement did God send when Jesus was born?
  2. How did the shepherds know where to find baby Jesus?
  3. How did the wise men find Jesus?
  4. What kind of announcement do you think the Christmas lights in our neighbourhood are making?
  5. Compared to a normal game of Hide and Seek, did the flashlight make it easier or harder to find the person who was hiding?
  6. What does it mean to “seek God” or to “seek Jesus”?
  7. Does Jesus want to be found by us?
Key concepts

Jesus is the light of the world and He wants to be found by everyone! If the shepherds had ignored the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth, they would never have found Jesus. If the wise men had not been attentive to the star God put in the sky to show them the way, they would not have found Jesus either. We, too, need to listen to God’s voice and be willing to follow His leading in our lives.

God wants us to search for Him eagerly – just like when we played Hide and Seek – and He promises to be found by those who look for Him! His Word says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). We seek God by praying, worshipping, reading the Bible and obeying what God says.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Jesus, we know You love us, because You were willing to be born on Earth to help us. It’s Your birthday and we want to give You the gift of our love in return. We know that loving You means listening to You and obeying You. We want to do that. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a birthday candle with a paper flame as a reminder that Jesus doesn’t hide from anyone; He wants everyone to find Him and follow Him.

Make it real

Whenever you admire Christmas lights, use it as a reminder to be seekers of Jesus – people who want to hear from Him and obey Him.

Relevant Scripture

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

1 John 5:3 “This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome.

John 14:21 “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, He is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love Him and show Myself to Him.

Day 7: A lesson in cooperation

Theme: God wants us to be willing to put aside our own wishes to let others have their way.

Lead-in activity: Work together to build a paper chain Christmas decoration, or string popcorn and / or cranberries. As you work, emphasize the fact that you are making a “chain” and talk about the “cooperation rules” laid out in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

Bible story:
Use this sample prayer or one of your own as a lead-in to your storytime:

Dear Jesus, it can seem that life is better when we get what we want, or when people do exactly what we want. But Your word says “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17) and “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Proverbs 17:1). Thank you for that reminder. We’d rather have very little, but live together in love and peace, than have a fancy home where there’s lots of squabbling and people insisting on getting their own way. Amen.

Before reading the Bible story, share this background information:

In the years leading up to these events, God had allowed the king of a foreign country to capture most of the Israelites and bring them back to the foreign king’s country to work as slaves. Nehemiah was working for the foreign king.

When Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem (in his home country) were broken down, he asked the king for permission to return to Jerusalem to lead others in rebuilding the city walls. The king gave Nehemiah permission, so he went back to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:1-3, 2:4-9). When the rebuilding of the wall began, some neighbouring people wanted to put a stop to it. They made fun of the project and threatened to harm those who were building the wall.

Read Nehemiah 4:7-21.

Questions for discussion
  1. Would you have been scared to stay and rebuild the wall if there were bad guys lurking around who wanted to harm you?
  2. What did Nehemiah and the builders do?
  3. What do you think would have happened if some of the Israelites rebuilding the wall had decided they didn’t want to follow Nehemiah’s plans for protection?
  4. Do you ever have trouble agreeing with someone else’s plans or ideas?
  5. If you disagree with someone about how to do something, does that usually make a task go faster, or slower?
  6. If you disagree with someone you’re working with, do you usually have more fun or less fun doing the task?
  7. Do you think we did a good job of cooperating together when we made our chain decoration?
  8. What usually causes arguments in our house?
Key concepts

Do you know what a “chain reaction” is? A chain reaction occurs when one event causes another event to happen, and that causes another event to happen, and on and on it goes. Chain reactions can be good or bad. They can make a situation better and better, or they can make a situation worse and worse.

Arguments can be like a chain reaction. Someone might start feeling a little grumpy when they don’t get their way. Next thing you know, they say something unkind and hurt someone else’s feelings. The other person is now grumpy too and says something mean back, and before you know it, there’s punching and hitting.

But love can stop a bad chain reaction. When someone’s being mean, instead of being mean back, a person can show love by saying, You seem a bit frustrated right now. How can I help? Or when you are playing or working together, a person can show love by cooperating and saying, I can see you really want to try your idea. Let’s try it your way first.

Love can start a good chain reaction of its own too. When we are loving toward others, it can help them be more loving. And love can start a chain of other good reactions as well. Being loving can lead to others being more patient and kind, which in turn leads to peace and joy in our home.

In the hustle and bustle busyness of the holiday season, it’s easy to be unkind, and for bad chain reactions to break out. Let’s work extra hard to cooperate with one another so that only loving chain reactions happen.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Dear Lord Jesus, we want our home to be decorated with the wisdom that comes from heaven, just like in James 3:17. Please send your Holy Spirit to give us Your love so that we can be peace-loving, kind, thoughtful, fair, quick to forgive and willing to let others have their way. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a tiny paper chain made of strips of paper, to remind your children to cooperate and start only loving chain reactions.

Make it real

Watch for loving chain reactions in your home over the holiday season. Point out how someone, for example, gave another child the bigger cookie, and how that loving act of putting someone else first, in turn, led to peace.

Relevant Scripture

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Day 8: A lesson in kindness

Theme: Kindness is “love in action”

Lead-in activity: Read together the book Because Brian Hugged His Mother, or create a similar story of your own and involve your children in adding to the story. For example, Because Brian Hugged His Mother starts with a boy hugging his mother in the morning. Because the mother felt loved and appreciated, she in turn did something kind for someone else, who then did something kind for another person. In the story, the postman felt pleased because the storekeeper noticed how efficient he was. The postman then complimented the baker when he dropped off the baker’s mail. The baker then gave a woman some extra bread to feed to her pets.

Bible story:
Use this sample prayer or one of your own as a lead-in to your storytime:

Dear Jesus, You are kind and You delight in kindness! We want to be just like You. Please show us who needs our kindness today. Amen.

Read 2 Samuel 9.

Prior to reading this story, give a brief history of who Jonathan was and the friendship between David and Jonathan:

Saul was the King of Israel. Unfortunately, Saul was not a king who pleased God, so God chose to give the honour of being the king to another person (1 Samuel 15). The one God chose to be the next king was David, a young man who eventually came to the palace to live with King Saul.

David became very good friends with Saul’s son Jonathan. After some time, King Saul became so jealous of David that he wanted to kill him. Even so, Jonathan remained David’s best friend. Jonathan even gave up his position as the next king of Israel for David, and he risked his life to defend David. Jonathan died in battle before David was made king of Israel.

Questions for discussion
  1. What do you remember about David?
  2. Who was Mephibosheth?
  3. How did David show kindness to Mephibosheth?
  4. What do you think it would be like to eat at the king’s table?
  5. Do you think God was pleased that David was kind to Mephibosheth?
  6. What are some ways we can be kind to those who are less fortunate than we are?
Key concepts

King David wanted to show kindness to the family members of his friend Jonathan. He did this by returning property and honour to one of Jonathan’s remaining relatives – Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. David honoured Mephibosheth by having him eat with David at his own table.

In many places in the Bible, God makes it clear that He is pleased when we are kind to others. In Jeremiah 9:24 God says, “But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, for in these I delight.” One of the wonderful things about showing kindness to others, is that we can start a kindness “chain reaction” just like we talked about in the story Because Brian Hugged His Mother. Our kindness makes others feel so good, they often go on to show kindness to others in special ways.

Let’s decide on something we can do to start a kindness chain reaction of our own this Christmas!

Here are some ideas – or you may like to come up with some ideas of your own: bake goodies for Mom or Dad to share at their workplace, shovel snow to surprise a neighbour, give simple gifts to those who serve in the community (e.g. store clerks, waste collectors, custodians) or even help a family member with their chores.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Father God, Your Word says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Thank you for calling us Your dearly loved children! We want to be just like Jesus and share kindness, compassion and forgiveness with everyone. May the things we do to show kindness this Christmas season start a kindness chain reaction that goes on and on to bless many people. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a small angel to remind that we can be “angels of encouragement” when we show kindness to others.

Make it real

All through the holiday season, affirm your kids when they go out of their way to be kind to others. Model kindness yourself, by asking a store clerk how their day is going, by letting someone go ahead of you in a lineup, or by complimenting someone on the quality of their help. You might also wish to read to your children Leo Tolstoy’s story The Old Shoemaster (also called Papa Panov’s Special Christmas). Many versions of this story are available online.

Relevant Scripture

Ephesians 4:32-5:2 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Day 9: A lesson in righteousness

Theme: When we make good choices and live a Christlike life, we can help other people find Jesus.

Lead-in activity: Work together to hang lights on your Christmas tree. Admire the tree with the lights off, then watch to see what a difference it makes when the lights are turned on.

Bible story:
Read John 8:12, then pray this sample prayer:

Dear Jesus, You are the light of the world and You want us to help You light up the world. Please teach us how to shine so that we can help other people find You, Jesus. Amen.

Read Genesis 39:1-6a.

Questions for discussion
  1. When Joseph was a slave for Potiphar, what was Joseph’s job?
  2. What did Potiphar notice about Joseph?
  3. Joseph made choices that pleased God. If Joseph had made bad choices, how do you think his story might have turned out?
Key concepts

Joseph didn’t always live in Egypt. He was born in the land of Caanan into a family who feared God. He was Abraham’s great grandson, and the son of Jacob. But Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him, and one day they did something evil: they sold him to some slave traders and told their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph was taken far away, to the land of Egypt, where he became a slave to Potiphar, one of the Pharaoh’s most important officials. (The Pharaoh was the ruler of Egypt.)

Potiphar soon noticed that Joseph was wise and very trustworthy. But more than that, Potiphar noticed that God was blessing Potiphar’s household because God was pleased with Joseph. Joseph’s choices to please God (his righteousness) became obvious to everyone around him.

Joseph went through some hard times, but eventually God blessed him so much that he rose from being a humble slave to being the Pharaoh’s trusted assistant and the second in command of all of Egypt.

God wants us to be like Joseph: to make such good choices that people will notice that we love to please God. In Matthew 5:14 and 16, God’s Word says “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Just like Christmas lights light up our Christmas tree and make people notice it much more readily, we can help people find their way to Jesus by “shining” brightly for Him. Jesus is the light of the world. When we live with Jesus in our hearts, our love for Him and our good choices can also be a light to others. We shine best when we love others like Jesus did and follow the instructions He gives us in the Bible.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Jesus, many people feel lost and empty inside and are looking for You, and You know who they are. Please put Your Spirit in us so we can shine like You do and help lost people find You. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a star or a lightbulb from a string of Christmas lights to inspire you to shine brightly for Jesus.

Make it real

Print out the verses below and hang them individually on your Christmas tree. Have your children take turns finding a verse and bringing it to you to read. Explain that all the verses are “righteousness rules” that Jesus taught people to show them how to please God by loving others.

As you read the verses, ask your kids to identify the righteousness rule in each one. Keep the verses handy and refer to them as you aim to “live in love” throughout the holiday season:

Matthew 22:36-40
Matthew 6:14-15
Matthew 19:19
Luke 6:31
Matthew 5:43-44
Matthew 6:2-3
Mark 9:35

Relevant Scripture

Daniel 12:3 “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Day 10: A lesson in acceptance

Theme: Acceptance means sharing Jesus’ love with everyone.

Lead-in activity: Watch the movie A Charlie Brown Christmas, or read the book of the same title.

Bible story:
Begin your Bible story time with this prayer based on Acts 10:34-36, John 13:34 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9:

Jesus, You are Lord of all. We are not perfect people, yet we are still loved by You! We want to share Your love with everyone, even when they are less than perfect. Please fill our hearts with Your love and teach us to love like You do! Amen.

Read Luke 19:1-10 and 1 John 2:5-6.

Questions for discussion
  1. Why do you think Charlie Brown liked the scruffy tree?
  2. What things did the other Peanuts characters say to Charlie Brown to make him feel rejected?
  3. Has anyone ever said things like that to you?
  4. In our Bible story, Zacchaeus was rejected by people too. Do you remember why?
  5. How did Jesus show love to Zacchaeus?
  6. What do other kids sometimes do that you don’t like?
  7. Do you think Jesus would be happy to go to those kids’ homes and spend time with them?
  8. Who does Jesus love more – me or you?
Key concepts

We like the story A Charlie Brown Christmas because it’s about compassion and accepting others. Charlie Brown showed kindness and acceptance to the shabby little Christmas tree and eventually Charlie Brown, too, felt loved and accepted by the other kids.

We share Jesus’ love with others when we accept people as they are – even if they smell funny, dress differently or speak or act in ways that seem a little odd to us. Jesus wants us to love everyone, even if they are a little “less than perfect” in our eyes. An important part of loving others is treating everyone as valuable.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or one like it:

Jesus, when we feel unloved, please remind us that You love us. Please send Your Holy Spirit to help us to love everyone like You do. We want to say “I love you” both in words and in the way we treat others. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a sprig from an evergreen tree (like Charlie Brown’s tree) to remind everyone that although we aren’t perfect, God loves us anyway.

Make it real

Try to find a “perfect” Christmas tree. (If you have an artificial tree, go for a walk and look for a tree that could be a “perfect” Christmas tree.) As you search, discuss how it is impossible to find the “perfect” tree, just as it is impossible to find (or to be) a “perfect” person.

Challenge your kids to keep their eyes open for people who are like the Charlie Brown tree – less likely to be loved because they are not perfect. Ask God to help you figure out a way to make those people feel loved and accepted.

Relevant Scripture

Acts 10:34-36 “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.’

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Day 11: A lesson in compassion

Theme: We show God’s love by showing compassion for those who are hurting or in need.

Lead-in activity: Seek God’s direction and select a Christmas compassion project you can do as a family. If you are short on time, it could be something as simple as a donation to the food bank.

Bible story:
To begin your Bible story and discussion time, read Micah 6:8, then pray this sample prayer:

Heavenly Father, we want to walk humbly with You. We want to love mercy as You do. Please show us someone who is hungry, sad or hurting in some other way so we can share Your love with them. Amen.

Read Matthew 15:29-39.

Questions for discussion
  1. How do you feel when you see an animal that is lonely or hungry?
  2. Would your pet be happy if you fed it, but never loved it?
  3. Why did Jesus have compassion for the people?
  4. What kind of miracles did Jesus do for the people?
  5. What would happen to sheep that did not have a shepherd to care for them?
Key concepts

When we care for our pets we don’t just feed them, we also love them. To care deeply for the needs of another is an expression of our love for them. This tender concern is called compassion.

The Bible tells us that Jesus has compassion for people. We know that Jesus is concerned about those who are sick and hurting, because He healed those who were blind, crippled and unable to speak. We know that He is also concerned about the physical needs of people who are healthy. In this story, Jesus told His disciples that He was concerned that the people had not eaten for a long time and might collapse from hunger on their way home, so He performed a miracle and fed them before He sent them away (Matthew 15:32).

The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw that the people were like a sheep without a shepherd, He began teaching them many things (Mark 6:34). This shows us that Jesus is also concerned about people’s spiritual needs. Although we don’t know exactly what He taught the people that day, based on what Jesus said elsewhere in the Bible, we can guess that He was likely telling them about God’s amazing love, eternal life and the importance of loving and obeying God and loving each other.

In His Word, God tells us that He expects us to show love, mercy and compassion to others, just as He does. When we do so, God is pleased. He even promises to reward those who show care and concern for others!

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Jesus, the Bible says that whoever claims to live in You must live like You did (1 John 2:5). We want to have eyes to see those who are hurting, hands that are gentle like Yours, hearts that are caring, and feet that are willing to go where You send us. Thank you for living in us so that we can share Your love with others. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath an adhesive bandage to remind you that Jesus wants to use you to heal those who are hurting and to share His love with them.

Make it real

For the remainder of the holiday season, keep a box of adhesive bandages handy. When God shows your family someone who is struggling, write their name on a bandage. Pray and ask God to show you how you can provide for their needs and ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to bring healing where there is pain or sadness.

Relevant Scripture

Proverbs 19:17 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and He will reward him for what he has done.

Proverbs 22:9 “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.’

1 John 4:21 “And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Day 12: A lesson in contentedness

Theme: When we have a thankful, content attitude, we enjoy the gift of peace too.

Lead-in activity: Make a “manger” for baby Jesus by filling a shoebox with dried grass, straw or shredded paper.

Before you start your Bible story discussion, and without your children’s knowledge, print out each of these verses on a small strip of paper, roll each one up tight, and hide them in the straw of your manger: Hebrews 13:5; Romans 14:17; Psalm 73:23-24.

Bible story:
Read Proverbs 14:30 and Colossians 3:15-17, then pray this sample prayer:

Dear Jesus, we want to have peaceful hearts. Please help us to be content with what we have, because we don’t want envy or jealousy to eat away at us inside and spoil our sense of peace. Amen.

Read Luke 2:1-16.

Questions for discussion
  1. Would you like to sleep in an animal feeding trough like Jesus did?
  2. What does this make you thankful for?
  3. What else are you thankful for?

Now read Luke 12:13-21.

  1. Why did the man come to Jesus?
  2. What did Jesus say to him about greed and possessions?
  3. What was wrong with the way the rich man used his possessions?
  4. Can you think of times when you envy others?
  5. What helps you when you are tempted to envy others?
Key concepts

From what we know about Joseph and Mary, it seems that when they came to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, they had very little money. Although Jesus was king of the whole world, His first bed was not a lovely soft crib full of colourful blankets and stuffed toys. Instead, he slept in a manger in a stable, where animals were kept. A manger is a feeding trough were people put the hay to feed their animals.

When Jesus had grown up and was teaching the people, a man came to Jesus hoping that Jesus would make his brother share his inheritance with him. But instead, Jesus warned the man about being greedy and always wanting wealth and possessions. Jesus said there are more important things to think about. Instead of always thinking about what we can get for ourselves to enjoy, we should be thinking about how we can give some of what we already have to please God.

It’s easy to compare what we have with what others have. But constant comparison causes discontent. If we look at what others have and wish it were ours, it makes us forget to be thankful for what we do have. When we are tempted to envy others, we can stop and say thanks to God for all the good things we already have.

As believers in Jesus, we have some very special things we can always be thankful for.

At this point, let your children take turns searching for one of the Bible verses hidden in the manger. Read each verse aloud and ask your children to identify things they can give thanks for, based on the verses.

God wants us to be content with what we have and to be especially thankful that we have Jesus as our friend, for the power and the closeness of His Holy Spirit living in us, and for the promise of spending eternity in heaven with Him.

Close your discussion time with this prayer, or a similar one:

Jesus, thank you for promising to be with us always. Please help us find such great joy in being with You that we forget to want other things. Amen.

Add to each child’s wreath a miniature bundle of hay or dried grass as a reminder to be content.

Make it real

Play the “contentedness challenge” game from the hands-on options section of the Kids of Integrity lesson on contentedness.

Relevant Scripture

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.