Teaching Series
What Child Is This?

Series: What Child Is This?
Sermon: Shepherds
Speaker: Japhet De Oliveira
Writer: Japhet De Oliveira
Kids Sections: Jessyka Albert

Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Luke 2:8–20 in the New International Version. Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: Today, in the United States, we celebrate a national holiday that my wife introduced me to 23 years ago, called “Thanksgiving.” For me, it is like an early Christmas celebration, in that families gather together and celebrate life and each other. Not surprisingly, the act of bringing family and friends together is not without its own complications. I hear this all the time. People tell me how they would rather spend Thanksgiving or Christmas by themselves or with a few select people—not their family and often not even the majority of their “friends.” There is just too much tension. Kristen Aiken wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called “Psychologists Explain How To Deal With The Nightmare That Is Thanksgiving Dinner.” You can read it later in the research segment if you have time. Aiken’s premise is that the tension at holidays all comes down to perception. So this morning if you are celebrating and stressed, read her piece and think about these themes: 

  1. The pressure to give a perfect performance 
  2. The urge to multitask
  3. The fear of failure 
  4. Social expectations placed on women
  5. Picky eaters
  6. Toxic family dynamics 
  7. Too many cooks in the kitchen
  8. The pressure to please everyone

Is this what happened when the shepherds were gathering to celebrate? Did they need a team of psychologists to provide them with tips to remove the pressure? What about afterwards, when the early followers of Jesus wanted to celebrate communion, the Lord's Supper? Did they get into battles over how to make it perfect? When the focus is not on us, but on the reason we are called together, all is well. When the focus of Christmas—or Thanksgiving—is on Jesus, maybe it can make your heart skip a beat with joy. 

Recalibrate: Make today not about you, but about thanks to Jesus for everything. 

Respond: Pray for a heart of joy and gratitude. 

Research: Read “Psychologists Explain How To Deal With The Nightmare That Is Thanksgiving Dinner” by Kristen Aiken.

Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
It’s important to share about what makes us happy! Tell your child about the things they do that make you really happy. Make up a game where you take turns sharing things that bring you both joy.

Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
Once the shepherds saw Jesus they were so excited to go and share their experience with everyone! What is something you love about Jesus that you can share with others today?

Live Purpose (ages 12–16) 
Sometimes it can be easier to add up all the things that make you frustrated, upset, or angry than to be happy and thankful for the good things. Make a list of all the things that bring you joy today. Every time you’re feeling a little negative, read through the list again.

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