Two Christmas icebreakers and a youth talk on giving gifts and God's greatest gift in Jesus. Help young people look afresh at the Christmas story and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.
This Christmas resource can be used as part of a youth night, youth club or Christmas presentation. It works well with 11-14's but please adapt according to the knowledge and age of your group.
Gifts are an important part of Christmas for everyone. We all like to receive gifts, but Christmas also provides an opportunity to give gifts to our family and friends. What kind of presents are you buying this year for your mum, dad, brother, sister or best friend? Discuss.
Introduce the two icebreakers by explaining that we are going to practice wrapping a gift - but with a few differences!
Preparation: two large cardboard boxes, Christmas wrapping paper, two pairs of scissors, tape, two ribbons or bows and a whistle.
Select two teams of six young people who stand at one side of the room. At the other side is placed a large cardboard box for each team with wrapping paper, scissors, tape, ribbon and a bow. Explain that at your signal the first person runs across the room to the box and begins to wrap it. After 15 secs a whistle will blow and they must run back to the other side of the room and tag the next team member who continues the wrapping process. End the relay when the box is wrapped or everyone has had a turn. Encourage everyone for their efforts and award a small gift to everyone for taking part! Come on its Christmas!
BLIND MAN'S WRAP
Preparation: Two cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, tape, two ribbons or bows, two blindfolds.
Select two volunteers and stand them beside two large cardboard boxes of equal size. Give each volunteer some wrapping paper (cut roughly to size), tape and ribbon (but no scissors). Ask them to wrap up the box, then just as they are about to begin, add that they must perform the task blindfolded. Comment on the results and award a small gift to both participants.
THE JOURNEY OF THE MAGI
Read Matthew 2: 1-12. The magi had travelled hundreds of miles, to bring their gifts to Jesus. The items they brought were all precious gifts possibly from the areas of Arabia, Persia or Babylonia (now the south west regions of Asia and Iran/Iraq). They were undoubtedly expensive and an indication of the highest honour and respect which they wanted to give to Jesus.
The gospels give no other reason for the magi bringing gifts or what use they were put to by Mary and Joseph. However, within a few hundred years of Jesus' birth, Christians had begun to attach symbolic significance to each of the gifts that were brought and they began to include the story of the magi's visit to the story of Christmas.
What were the three gifts brought by the wise men? The three gifts brought to Jesus might seem a little unusual to us. Does anyone know what they were? Gold is easy, but what is frankincense and myrrh? (Frankincense was a sweet smelling resin (gum) and Myrrh was an expensive spice).
When people choose gifts for others they often try to fit the gift to the person they are giving it to. Give a personal example of a gift you have given to a family member or friend. The wise men did the same and the gifts they brought help us to understand what they knew about Jesus and the kind of person they believed he was going to be.
- Gold was something that was given to kings.
- Frankincense was a sweet smelling resin (gum) used in ceremonies by the priest as they prayed to God for the people.
- Myrrh was an expensive spice placed on a body at burial.
What do you think these gifts tell us about the kind of person Jesus was going to be and what would happen to him in the future? Discuss.
Christmas is a time to give and receive gifts, but let us not forget that God's greatest gift to us was Jesus, his own Son. His coming was not by chance, but part of God's plan to show his love to mankind and give us the opportunity to restore our broken relationship with him.
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Extract from ‘Christmas Unwrapped’ by Grahame Knox and Caroline Ray (1990)