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The idea for ―Stations of the Manger‖ was inspired by - none other than, you guessed it - the ―Stations of the Cross.‖ We came up with 5 different stations that students could interact with that would make the Christmas story come to life in ways that it might not have before. Our students were able to complete the journey through the stations in about 30 minutes, which left time for debriefing the experience and some worship at the end of our weekly worship service. We did a staggered start with our students by making 4 different arrangements of the packet so that our students started evenly distributed between the stations. We made each packet so that every student ended at the Manger station, as it is the climax of the experience and incorporates an opportunity to respond to the Gospel.
Key Learning for each Station:
While the culmination of the Stations of the Manger experience for students is for them to interact with the Christmas story in a new and fresh way, there are practical take aways from each of the 5 stations. Here is a brief outline of what those are:
The Shepherds and the Angels
The good news of Jesus Christ demands a response. In the case of the shepherds it was to tell everyone they encountered about Jesus. We want students to feel compelled to tell someone about Christ because of what He has meant in their own lives.
Old Testament Prophecies
All of Scripture tells the same story: God‘s redemption for His creation, His people. Reading prophecies written hundreds of years before Christ‘s birth and then reading about them fulfilled through the Gospel accounts is beautiful and helps reinforce the validity of Scripture.
The Wise Men‘s Gifts
The Wise Men gave gifts based on who they understood Christ to be. There are some profound things to be learned by the gifts they gave, but it is also worth processing, based on what we know about who Jesus is in our lives, what types of gifts we would offer Him.
The Wise Men‘s Journey
They Wise Men were compelled to do something in response to who Jesus is, in a similar way to the response of the shepherds. We want students to consider what God might want them to do in response to Him.
The climax of the story, the Manger Station is designed to have students interact personally with who Christ is. They either thank Him for who He is to them or they are invited to respond to the Gospel message for the first time.
Layout of the Room:
We placed 4 of the stations in each of the corners of our youth room and placed the Manger Station in the middle of the room. This made it possible for many more students to gather around the Manger since they all ended here roughly at the same time. We setup an 8-foot table at each station as students were often prompted to write things out as they contemplated what they were learning. I would also recommend playing music as ―white noise‖ in the room. Instrumental worship or even Christmas music might work, but you might want to make sure the overall mood stays on the more contemplative and reverent side of things – don‘t let the music become a distraction.
Setup of Each Station: The Shepherds and the Angels
We took green butcher paper and cut it out into the shape/image of rolling hills and hung it on the wall. Our butcher paper was about 10 feet in length, but it doesn‘t need to be that big. We even put a few cut-out sheep on it to give the sense of the hillside where the shepherds would have been tending their flocks. We placed 6-8 sharpies on the 8-foot table for students to use to write the name of a person on the green butcher paper that they were planning to share the Gospel with in the New Year. The end result is a pretty cool image of the people your students want to share their faith with.
Old Testament Prophecies
The packet contains a list of 4 prophecies in the Old Testament that point to the birth of Jesus. On the wall, we hung 4 verses from the Gospels that corresponded with the OT prophecies. We simply took poster board and wrote out, by hand, the verses and hung the 4 posters on the wall. The 4 verses from the Gospels are: 1. Isaiah 7:14 fulfilled in Matthew 1:18 2. Micah 5:2 fulfilled in Luke 2:4-5 3. Psalm 72:10 fulfilled in Matthew 2:11 4. Jeremiah 23:5 fulfilled in Matthew 1:6 We went ahead and put Bibles of varying translations out on the 8-foot table for students who preferred to look up the verses. Our default translation is the NLT.
The Wise Men‘s Gifts
The station requires nothing to be hung on the wall but did require us to purchase a few unique items that required a little more lead time than the other stations. We purchased two bottles of incense – frankincense and myrrh. These items are readily available for purchase online or you might find them in a local incense or aromatherapy store. We went cheap on the gold and spray painted a rock. This way students could touch and smell the gifts the Wise Men brought as they learned about them from their packet.
The Wise Men‘s Journey
OR a note indicating a decision to trust in Christ for the first time. You basically end up with 2 versions of the card: a true ―Thank You‖ note written to Jesus from a student who is already a believer. this time black. we made a wooden manger and set it up on 2 8-foot tables that were lined up side-by-side. Of course. Students were instructed to write down something they were willing to do for God in the New Year and then tape it to the black butcher paper. at their own pace. On the 8-foot table we laid out several star cut outs made from yellow construction paper as well as another 6-8 sharpies and a few rolls of scotch tape. In the same way the Wise Men followed the star on their journey to see Christ. we challenged our students to follow their star (follow through with their commitment) of serving Christ. The purpose of the black butcher paper is to emulate the night sky.doc format so you could play with the fonts and format as you wish to.This station required another large piece of butcher paper. and we hung it on the wall without cutting it out to look like a particular shape. This packet was left in a Word. The Manger Since this station is the focal point of the activity. . Students then followed the instructions in their packets for what to write on their ―Thank You‖ card and then deposited them in the actual Manger. following the instructions in their packets. What Students Will Need: Each student will need only 2 supplies for the experience: a packet and a pen. Everything else they need is already laid out at each of the 5 stations. We then spread out ―Thank You‖ cards that we had printed off in-house (you could certainly purchase them). you‘ll need to explain to them that they will travel to each of the stations.
2) Think of 1 person that you believe God wants you to tell about Jesus in the New Year and write their name on the green paper on the wall with a sharpie. an angel of the Lord appeared among them. the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth. the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. CONSIDER: The shepherds were surprised by the angel‘s visit to them but excited that they were invited to see Jesus. which the Lord has told us about. 17 After seeing him. lying in the manger. Then write their name here as a reminder to you to share Christ with them. 10 but the angel reassured them. Verses 17 and 20 let us know how the shepherds responded to experiencing Jesus. the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying. And there was the baby. 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.‖ 13 Suddenly. ―I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.‖ 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph.‖ 15 When the angels had returned to heaven.14 ―Glory to God in highest heaven. for themselves. and the radiance of the Lord‘s glory surrounded them. lying in a manger. It was just as the angel had told them. Think about the impact Jesus has had on your life since encountering Him for the first time. ―Don‘t be afraid!‖ he said.The Shepherds and the Angels READ: Luke 2:8-20 8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby. 9 Suddenly. Who have you told about Jesus? ACTION: 1) Underline verses 17 and 20 in the passage above and circle the words or phrases that describe what the shepherds did in response to seeing Jesus. They were errified. the shepherds said to each other. and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased. the Messiah. 11 The Savior— yes. ―Let‘s go to Bethlehem! Let‘s see this thing that has happened. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks. . the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem. guarding their flocks of sheep. 18 All who heard the shepherds‘ story were astonished. glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. the Messiah.
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES: 1) Isaiah 7:14 ―All right then.He will do what is just and right throughout the land.‖says the LORD. the Lord himself will give you the sign.one whose origins are from the distant past.‖ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ 3) Psalm 72:10 ―The western kings of Tarshish and other distant landswill bring him tribute.He will be a King who rules with wisdom.are only a small village among all the people of Judah. _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ 4) Jeremiah 23:5 ―For the time is coming.Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you.‖ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ 2) Micah 5:2 ―But you. _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ . Write out the New Testament verses underneath the Old Testament prophecies that they fulfill.The eastern kings of Sheba and Sebawill bring him gifts. O Bethlehem Ephrathah.―when I will raise up a righteous descendantfrom King David‘s line.Old Testament Prophecies ACTION: Read through this list of Old Testament verses and then read through the New Testament verses at the station. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‗God is with us‘).
. To put this number into terms of an illustration it is the same statistical probability of stacking silver dollars 2 feet high all through state of Texas (that‘s a lot of silver dollars).000. One final fact to chew on: the statistical probability of just 8 of the 315 prophecies coming true is 1 out of 10 to the 17th power.000. or 1 out of 100. also known as 1 out of 100 Quadrillion.000.000. Within the Old Testament there are approximately 315 prophecies about Jesus Christ. It is astonishing to think that they all agree and that there aren‘t any contradictions in the whole text. marking one of them. independent of one another.000. We looked at just 4 of them this morning. Each of these 4 prophecies was recorded by different authors in different books of the Bible.CONSIDER: God wrote the Bible through 40 different human authors from 3 different continents over the course of 1500 years. and then blindfolding someone to wonder the state and randomly pick out that silver dollar on the first try.
smell them and look at them. It was used to prepare bodies for burial. Mary. Each of these gifts had a significant meaning. Feel free to pick them up. it was an amazing statement of God‘s love and what Jesus came to do. What Christmas gift (think of something modern) would you give to Jesus that would signify what He means to you? ACTION: 1) Take a moment and examine the samples on the table in front of you that represent the gifts the Wise Men brought. .The Wise Men’s Gifts READ: Matthew 2:1-12 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother. 2) In the space provided on the next sheet. frankincense. frankincense. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold. and myrrh. Gold – is a precious medal and of great value in every culture around the world. Frankincense – is a rare incense that would have been burned as part of worship and represented the prayers of the people being taken up to God. Spend a few minutes writing out why you chose the gift and what it means about Jesus. Myrrh – is actually an interesting gift to give a baby. It is considered a gift of great worth and intended for royalty. This was a prophetic gift from the Wise Men that Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. That He came to restore us and reconnect us with God. This gift was given by the Wise Mean to signify their belief that Jesus was the ultimate Priest. While the gift might seem a bit morbid. CONSIDER: The Wise Men brought 3 gifts for Jesus: gold. write down what gift you would give Jesus to represent who He is to you. In many ways Myrrh signifies death. and myrrh. The Wise Men were declaring Jesus as King by giving Him the gift of gold. and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Gift: Explain:______________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ .
8 Then he told them. and they bowed down and worshiped him. frankincense. And when you find him.‘‖ 6 5 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men. they returned to their own country by another route.4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked. for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel. asking. As you think about the journey that the wise men were willing to take in the passage you just read. . too!‖ After this interview the wise men went their way. are not least among the ruling cities of Judah. take a few minutes and write out in a little more detail what it is you are willing to do for God. ―Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?‖ ―In Bethlehem in Judea.The Wise Men’s Journey READ: Matthew 2:1-12 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. Outline your plan to accomplish the commitment you are making to Him. O Bethlehem in the land of Judah. 2 ―Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose. Mary. and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. and myrrh. 10 When they saw the star. ―for this is what the prophet wrote: ‗And you. for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him. 9 7 CONSIDER: The wise men traveled a great distance to sit in the presence of Jesus to worship Him. during the reign of King Herod. 12 When it was time to leave. and we have come to worship him. as was everyone in Jerusalem. ―Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child.‖ they said. ask yourself how far you are willing to go for Jesus. What are you willing to do for Jesus? ACTION: 1) Take one of the paper stars at the station and write just a few words of what you are willing to do for God in the next month and tape it to the black paper on the wall.‖ 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem. For them. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. 2) On the next page in your packet. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold. Jesus was worth following the star and going the distance to seek Him out. they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother.
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life and that life we have with Jesus starts the very moment we believe in Him and lasts for all eternity. and will commit were paid for with Jesus death on the cross. His crib is nothing more than a feeding trough for animals. are committing. We‘ve fractured the relationship He designed for us to have with Him by the sin in our lives. The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Because of His resurrection. We are blessed to enjoy the relationship that God designed us to have for all eternity! . The Ruler of the Universe finds his first earthly ―home. And on the 3rd day Jesus rose from the dead claiming victory over death. The perfect and complete sacrifice for every sin ever committed by everyone. lying in the manger. all because He loves us. All the sins you have committed. no amount of good deeds or works will ever make up for the sin we‘ve committed. so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.‖ wrapped in swaddling clothes. When you stop and think about the fact that Jesus stepped out of the comforts and glory of Heaven and literally entered the filth of the earth. sinless life but in order to pay for our sins Jesus gave His life up by dying on the cross. and Satan.000 years ago He sent His Jesus Christ into the world as a baby. the Son of God. enters the world as a baby boy and is laid in a manger. 2. our hope exists in a living God. This may be a verse you have heard over and over again but stop and ponder its meaning. sin.The Manger READ: John 3:16 ―For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. No matter how hard we try. He lived a perfect. But because God loves us so much He would do anything to restore us to the relationship He created us to have.‖ Picturing baby Jesus in the manger is quite a site. it‘s truly a humbling image. Read it over several times if you need to and let it‘s truth sink in. The birth of Jesus Christ is the whole reason we celebrate Christmas. But we‘re all sinners and we have created a wedge between ourselves and God. CONSIDER: God loves you and created you to have a relationship with Him. His perfect will and plan for our lives was for us to be in constant fellowship with Him.
ACTION: For those of you who are reading this and have already made the decision to believe in Jesus Christ. then place that note in the manger. if you realize you haven‘t believed in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and for your salvation then we want you to consider making that decision today. if you choose to. Sign it. take a few minutes to reflect on how grateful you are that Jesus not only came to this earth but has also come into your life. Simply write a ―Thank You‖ note to Jesus expressing your love and appreciation for Him. If you‘ve read this Good News and desire to believe in Jesus Christ we want you to know that we are excited for you!!! On the card provided write out: your name phone number that we can contact you email address the decision you are making This way we can follow up with you this week and celebrate this amazing decision you have made to believe in Jesus Christ. After reading this. .
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