Advent Nativity – Week 1, Angels

This olive wood nativity set was hand carved in Bethlehem. Roger and Mary Bailey purchased it on their first trip to the Holy Land in 1999.

This year my second-grade Sunday school co-teacher and I wanted to do something a little different. We decided to slowly build the nativity scene in our room by adding a few new pieces each week in December.

I invite you and your family to join us on our journey to the manger as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.

This week we’re putting up the angels.

Week 1: Angels

God promised that Jesus would come a long time before He was born. God promised Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 that one of Eve’s great-great-great-great-many-more-great-grandchild would crush the head of our enemy and conquer him. Many generations later, God promised in Genesis 12:3 that all the families of the earth would be blessed because of Abraham and his family.

Fast forward about 1,500 years and listen to what God told Isaiah about this promised Savior who was Jesus.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.

Fast forward another 800 years. God’s people were looking for this special Savior, the Messiah, but they had been waiting for a long time. While they waited, the lived their regular lives. They did their chores, learned new things, played with their toys, and hung out with their friends.

Mary was a teenager who was doing just that. She might have been out doing her chores when something incredible happened.

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

…God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin* pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Show me on your face how you would feel if you were doing your chores and suddenly an angel showed up.

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin*?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

[* For younger children, you could define a virgin as someone who has never been married.]

Wow! Mary was going to have a very special baby. But the baby’s daddy wouldn’t be her fiancee Joseph. How do you think Joseph felt when Mary told him she was going to have a baby?

Let’s see what happened.

Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

That means that Joseph wasn’t going to marry her after all. Joseph was a good man, be he thought Mary had sinned. I bet that made him very sad. Joseph decided he couldn’t marry Mary after all, but he still wanted to protect her, so he was going to call off the wedding in a kind way. Still, Mary would have been all alone. Let’s see what happened next.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

We’ve heard that before. That was what God told the prophet Isaiah 800 years before Jesus was born!

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage* until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

[* For younger children, you could explain “consummate their marriage” as “go on their honeymoon.”]

Wow! The angels had some special messages for Mary and Joseph. This wasn’t just any baby. The Messiah that God’s people had been waiting for so long was coming! Mary and Joseph had to get ready to welcome this new baby.

Did you know that Jesus is coming back again someday soon? God’s promises of Christ’s return are recorded in the Bible just like His promises that Jesus would be born. We need to be ready for Jesus to come too. He won’t come as another baby, but as a grown man, ready to welcome those who believe in Him. Let’s pray and ask God to help us be ready.

God, thank You so much for Jesus. Thank You for sending the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Savior, just as You promised long ago. Help us to be ready to celebrate Jesus’ birthday this Christmas. Help us to continue to learn more about Jesus. Draw us closer to You. Help us to be ready for when Jesus comes back again. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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* Children's first names only used with written permission from their legal guardians. Children's last names are never given. Other people’s names and small details may have been changed to protect individual's privacy.