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: Matthew 28:1-10 in The Message. Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The Message paraphrase has the ability to bring such dramatic effect to some of these narrative passages, and this one in particular lends itself to this moment. Matthew captures with cinematic attention that death— the one thing we ultimately have absolutely no control over—has been defeated. It is only Matthew who records that the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom (27:51). Matthew is the one that wants to show a shift over the course of that weekend that happened because of the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection. He brings our attention to the angel of the Lord who appeared in the birth story in Matthew 1:20-24 and 2:13-19. He reminds us that this baby, Jesus, grew up and on the Mount of Transfiguration appeared in clothes that were white as snow Matthew 17:2. This has echoes of the character in Daniel 10:6. As a result, the one who was dead now makes those who guarded Him look like they are dead. To cap it off, we have this great angel of the Lord sitting on the stone, simply waiting for Mary and her friends to turn up.
What child is this? Jesus the Messiah, who shocked the foundations of this earth, and defeated the stranglehold that death had over us, is the child. This is what is amazing about Christmas and what give the season its transformative power. When we respond to the call of the Holy Spirit to look after each other, we enjoy life so much more. Just take a moment to scan your past history and consider those moments—no matter the reason—when people gathered together to do good for others. Wrapping Christmas gifts for those in need. Serving at a homeless shelter. Shoveling snow from an elderly neighbor's driveway. Cooking a meal for community. Visiting the sick and those who are housebound. Serving on a short-term or long-term mission project. Raising funds for someone who lost everything in a fire. The list is long right? Those moments fill us with love and joy. Those are the moments we are responding to the call of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is what some would refer to as the “Christmas spirit. It is also called “goodwill to all men," and it is the Gospel in action. It is what the resurrection morning guaranteed.
Recalibrate: What simple acts of kindness should you do this Christmas?
Respond: Pray for a place to serve.
Research: What does the curtain tearing in half (Matthew 27:51) mean to us today?
Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
So much joy and excitement surrounds the resurrection! When you talk to your child about Jesus, what emotions do you portray? Read the text out loud with them and ask them what emotions they feel when they hear that Jesus is risen.
Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
Make a list of three things you can do to help someone else today. At the end of the day, talk to your parents about how you felt being kind and serving someone else. Do you want to do three more good things tomorrow?
Live Purpose (ages 12–16)
It’s natural to think of ourselves first. Ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to listen so that you may care for others. It might mean helping someone carry their books, giving someone the bigger slice of pizza, or asking someone how they are and really listening. What other ways can you put your focus on caring for others?