This New Year is special. It’s the year 2020. Actually every year has special events and significant dates to remember and celebrate. But 2020 is not like any other year. 2020 is the two thousand and twentieth year since Jesus was born. 2020 is the 20th year of the twenty-first century. And 2020 is a new decade; it is the first year of the 2020s. Continue reading The Year 2020→
January is about new things. A brand new year has begun, 2019. The old year, 2018, is in the past.
A new year is exciting. A fresh new snow fall makes everything around you look new. You look forward to what the New Year will bring. You may already have new things, new mitts, a new scarf, and a new toque. Perhaps some new toys and books.
Now you’re back in school. A new term has begun. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend. You may learn a new skill. You’ll read a new book. And this year you’ll have another birthday. You’ll be a whole year older.
New things are exciting. But what about the old things? They are not gone. They remain as important as ever. What are these old things?
First, there are old buildings. Old buildings tell us of a certain time. They have history. What was happening when they were built? Why was a particular building built? Was it an important business that helped the community to grow? What is the style of the building, the architecture or design? What were the materials used to build it? Was it stone, or wood? All of these tell us about that time, perhaps long ago now.
Then there are old stories. Old stories you may have heard many times before. They make you feel good because you know them well. Maybe you feel you are a part of the story because you have experienced something similar. Take, for example, the stories of Winnie the Pooh. You may have had your own stuffed animal you took with you wherever you went. You thought of it as real, a real companion. You may have created stories about it.
Sometimes old things become new again. This means they have a new use. Look through a collection of old buttons. Your grandmother may have some. Is there a particularly pretty or unique button? Put it on a ribbon and wear it as a necklace. An old button can become a board game piece to replace a lost one. An old bottle can be used as a vase. An egg carton can be used to organize and store small items like a pin collection or stickers. Do you have old Christmas decorations? Each one will have a back story. How old is it? Where did you get it? Why is it still important to you?
Old things connect you to the past, to your history. They help build your story; they are a part of who you are, and what’s important to you.
What about old sayings? Old sayings have wisdom. They are as true now as they ever were. For example, Smiles are free, but they are worth a lot. Or this one, A journey of a thousand milesbegins with the first step. Both of these are to encourage you and show what has value.
There are many old sayings in the Bible that are important. One is in James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.”
Activity: Find an old item.
Need: an old item, camera, drawing paper, pencil crayons
Do: Choose one item that is old and is important to you.
What is its story? Find out what it was used for? Where did it come from? Who owned it?
Why was it important? You may want an adult to help you.
What if Christmas were cancelled? What would you do?
When Jesus was born only a few people knew who he was. The shepherds knew because the angels told them. The wise men knew because they studied the stars and a new star had appeared. This meant a new king had been born. King Herod knew that if Jesus was a king he was in trouble. He felt threatened that Jesus would take his place. King Herod was so afraid he decided to kill all baby boys just to be sure Jesus would not grow up and would not become king.
But Jesus escaped. Mary and Joseph bundled him up and left Bethlehem. They went to live in Nazareth where no one recognized him. Jesus was safe for now.
Jesus was not ordinary. When he grew up he taught the people about God and that he was God’s Son. He healed the sick and raised them up to live again. People followed him because he gave them hope. When the synagogue leaders saw how popular he was they were very angry. They accused him of blasphemy, lying about being the Son of God, and they killed him. It was a dangerous time for his followers and many went into hiding.
For 300 years the Roman government punished the Christians for not worshipping the Roman gods. One was Sol, the sun god.
In AD 0312, after Jesus was born, Constantine 1 became the new emperor. He worshipped Sol, the sun god, too. One day he was on his way to fight a new battle. On the way God showed him a vision. When Constantine looked up at the sun he saw the shape of a cross over the sun, and the words, “with thissign you will conquer.” He won the battle. Constantine immediately turned to the true God and became a follower of Jesus, and he changed the laws. Christians were no longer punished for believing only the one true God. The Christian church grew and for the first time Christmas Day became a holy day, a holiday, and was celebrated with family and friends. Together they shared feasts and gave gifts to each other.
For several hundreds of years the celebration of Christmas spread from country to country. Celebrations lasted for 12 days from December 25 to January 6. It was a time of feasting and happiness. People decorated their homes with evergreen branches and sang carols. Christmas Day became the most important day of the year.
After a time, in the 1600s, the Puritans, a strict group in the church and in the government, believed the people were celebrating too much. And so they cancelled Christmas. Now celebrating was against the law.
Many years passed. In 1843 a man called Charles Dickens wrote the play, A Christmas Carol. The play tells the story of families celebrating Christmas together, taking care of each other and sharing with others. It is a story of joy and happiness. The play was an instant success. Everyone loved it. Once again the people began to celebrate Christmas.
Today we have the whole story. We celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth. We know he is the promised Messiah. We know that he died and rose again. We know that he will return for us. “I will come again,” he promised, “and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” This is why we celebrate Christmas.
Read Luke 2: 1 – 14, and John 14:1 – 6.
Activity: Make a mason jar table centre.
Need: 1 small mason jar, I pint size
3 or 4 pieces evergreen branches, each 8 cm long
½ cupful of fresh, or frozen cranberries
1 piece of raffia ribbon or jute string, 60 cm long
1 floating tea light
enough water to fill the jar
Do: tie the string around the neck of the jar
Place greenery inside the jar
Add the cranberries
Fill the jar with water to about 2 cm from the top
Place the floating tea light on the water
Use the mason jar candle as a center piece or give as a gift
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference