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It was the first Christmas

Here is a story for you to tell at home, perhaps at bedtime or as part of a God time during the day. Read the whole story at once, or split it up into verses, depending on how much time you have. You could also use it as part of a children’s session.

It was an ordinary house.

Everyone looks around, nods and says: “Nothing special, but it’ll do.” The angel Gabriel appeared to a young woman called Mary. “Don’t be frightened,” he told her. “I bring you God’s good news. You will have a child and you will call him Jesus.”

Mary was confused, and she told the angel so. “But I have no husband,” she said.

“God’s own Spirit will overshadow you,” the angel replied, “and the child will be God’s own son.”

“I will do it,” Mary agreed. “Whatever God wants me to do.”

And so, quick as he’d come, the angel disappeared.

It was a sleepless night.

Everyone rubs their eyes, stretches and yawns.

Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph. But when she told him about the angel’s visit, and why she was having a baby, he did not believe her.

So the angel visited Joseph in a dream. “What Mary told you is true,” the angel said. “The child growing inside her is God’s own son. So don’t be afraid to marry her. And, when the child is born, call him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

So Joseph married Mary and waited for the baby to be born.

It was a dusty road.

Everyone coughs.

Mary and Joseph were on their way south, several days’ journey from where they lived in Nazareth.

They were on their way because the Roman emperor, who ruled their land, wanted to count everyone who lived in the land of Israel. They were on their way because everyone had to return to their hometown, and Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem.

It was a little town.

Everyone sings: “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.”

Bethlehem was not far from Jerusalem, the capital.

Mary and Joseph were meant to stay with one of Joseph’s relatives, but there was no room in the guest room upstairs.

So Mary and Joseph stayed in the downstairs room, where the animals were kept for the night; a room with a feed trough and a place for the animals to rest.

And that is where Mary gave birth to God’s own son, Jesus.

It was a lonely hillside.

Everyone howls like a wolf.

Shepherds were watching their sheep at night, near Bethlehem. Suddenly, an angel appeared to them as well.

Bright and shiny and terrifying.

“Don’t be frightened,” the angel said. “I bring you God’s good news. He has promised, for years, to send you a special Saviour. And tonight that Saviour was born right here, in Bethlehem. Go! Look! You will find him lying in a feed trough.”

Then a great crowd of angels joined the first one.

“God is amazing!” they shouted. “And peace is his gift to all people.”

And as suddenly as they had appeared, the angels went.

So the shepherds went, too. Off to Bethlehem. And they looked. And they found the child in a feed trough. And when they had told Mary and Joseph about the angels, they spread their good news throughout the town. And everyone who heard it was amazed as well.

It was a star-filled sky.

Everyone sings: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are” and twinkles with their fingers.

And then, without warning, one of the stars rose and caught the attention of star-watchers who lived in the East.

“It’s a sign,” they agreed. “A sign that a new king has been born to the Jews.”

So they set off together, travelling west, to find the new king and worship him.

It was a beautiful palace.

Everyone looks around, nods and says: “Very nice. Very nice, indeed!”

Herod, king of the Jews, lived there. When the star-watchers arrived with news of their journey and their search for a new king he was worried.

So he called for the chief priests and asked them where God’s long-promised Saviour would be born.

“In Bethlehem,” they told him.

And that is what he told the star-watchers. “Find this new king,” said Herod. “Then return and tell me exactly where he is, so I can worship him, too.”

He meant nothing of the sort, of course. He only wanted to find the child so he could kill him.

It was an ordinary house.

Everyone looks around, nods and says: “Nothing special, but it’ll do.”

The star rested above it. When the star-watchers knocked they were greeted by Joseph, and by Mary, who was carrying the child.

Into the house the star-watchers went, and laid before the child precious gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Gifts fit for a king.

They had a sleepless night.

Everyone rubs their eyes, stretches and yawns.

And, being warned in a dream not to return to the beautiful palace – everyone looks around, nods and says: “Very nice. Very nice, indeed!” – they left the little town.

Everyone sings: “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.”

They set off for home, on a dusty road.

Everyone coughs.

Through the lonely hillside.

Everyone howls like a wolf

 Under a star-filled sky.

Everyone sings: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are” and twinkles with their fingers.


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