Preparation: advertise that children are welcome to come in their pajamas and bring a gift they received. You can also ‘plant’ some children and encourage them to come with gifts or bring your own, A stocking or box or bag filled with small candles, a children’s Bible or this book is recommended: The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children by Katherine Paterson
Faith+Gather: Gather the children up front or near the tree or creche–where it makes sense in your setting. What gifts did you bring with you? Let the children share what gifts they have with them and ask about who they received the gift from.
Faith+Share: As they are sharing who gave them the gift, comment on those relationships and how part of the gift is that the person giving it to us is sharing themselves and what they have with us. When the kids are done sharing their gifts show them that you have a gift bag/stocking/ as well. There is something pretty simple in my bag but also an important part of Christmas. Last night you heard the story of Mary and Joseph and how they went to Bethlehem… do a quick retell or have kids help you. And the gift that was born was Jesus. Today in our Gospel we are also going to hear a story about how Jesus came into the world told in a different way from the Gospel of John. John says that in the beginning–the very beginning at creation Jesus was there as the word and as the light and then he came into the world to bring God’s word and God’s light to people. And do you know why God did this? You have received gifts from people who love you and care about you and want to share themselves with you. God loves you and cares about you and wants to share hope and love and joy and peace with you.
**here read part of the gospel or read from a children’s Bible or book. “The light of the World” book mentioned in preparation is a good one to use in this section to help tie the stories of Christ as light together. Adjust for your time and setting.
We know Jesus came as a baby to be with us and that he is the word of God come to bring love to us and that Jesus is the light–that no matter what happens in our lives Jesus is with us and promises that one day the light of God is stronger than any darkness that we might see or feel or hear. So can you guess what is in my bag? (let them guess, leading them to think of things that make light)
Yes! A candle, a very simple white candle because candles can help us remember that Jesus is with us all the time, even if it’s a just a little bit of light from this candle. we know that Christ is here. (option: Light one of the candles or point to the candles that are lit) Give each child a small candle. (option: you can also give them a label sticker and markers or a cross sticker to put on the candle. Or if you have an interactive time in your worship you can invite them to take their candle to that station and decorate it. I will be using label stickers and letting them draw on them and then wrap them around their candle.)
Faith+Prayer: Ask children to hold their candles as you prayer together: Jesus, light of the world, come be a light in my heart and help me see you everyday. Amen.
Faith+Blessing: Children of God, you are lights for the world today and always. Amen.