(Photo from greeneyed.com)
Christmas is so full of activity. Sometimes the best lessons are like the Nativity — simple, easy, and heartfelt. This Christmas lesson is one of those. It uses pinecones, which can be found in your backyard or bought in a local supermarket, to provide a simple gospel message for the Holidays.
Note: Use the Christmas lesson as a craft as well! Just have enough pinecones and mini pom-poms for your students!
• Pinecone that is open
• Seven or eight tree ornaments that are very pretty and ornate
• Mini pom-poms
- Place all your ornaments, plus your unadorned pinecone on the teaching table.
- Inside each popcorn kernel is a little bit of water. When you heat the kernels, the water turns to steam and expands.
- fter a while, the pressure from the steam builds up and the popcorn pops!
Meet Penelope Pinecone. Push Penelope forward to the children. This Christmas season, after hearing the story of the Nativity, Penelope has decided to give her life to Jesus and become Christian. Can we all congratulate her? Have everyone clap for Penelope, even the skeptics.
Penelope always wanted to feel close to Jesus. She wanted a God she could pray to and trust and feel loved by. But it was off her grid. Why?
Take hold of Penelope and “walk” her through the other Christmas ornaments on the table.
“Why would God love me?” she wondered. “I’m so… ordinary. There’s nothing really good about me.” Turn her this way and that, stopping to look at the other pretty ornaments. “I don’t look great. I don’t smell great. I don’t have any talents. I don’t have any money in savings. I make mistakes. I’ll never be a genius. Most people just walk on past and don’t even notice me. They just kick me to the side in the forest and go on about their business. Why would God want to get close to me?”
Bring Penelope back in front of you. Penelope sounds a little like all of us sometimes. But what she doesn’t realize is that she has a lot in common with the people of Bethlehem.
There was an overworked, underpaid innkeeper — who told Mary and Joseph he had no room for them. There were shepherds watching over their flocks by night. There was Joseph, a carpenter, who earned a living with a lot of sweat.
And of course, a teenage girl in Bethlehem, who looked and sounded so much like other girls, never dreamed she would give birth to the Son of God. Finally, no one dreamed the Son of God would be born in a manger instead of a palace.
Pick up the paintbrush, dab it in the glue, and start to paint the tips of Penelope’s cone.
But here’s what happens. We come to God “ordinary.” We’ve made mistakes, and we’re still making them. We don’t see much in ourselves that isn’t either the same as everyone else, or slightly worse!
But we don’t earn God’s love. We come to God as we are, and he begins to work in us.
Add some pom-poms to a few branches, then paint some new ones with the glue.
Especially at first, you can’t see the work that God is doing in you. He enables you to stop hating. All people see is that your mouth isn’t running constantly in a negative way.
He enables you to see that half the things you complained about in other people are things you do yourself! Before long, you stop yourself before complaining about someone. You think, “Well, I’ve done that. I should be more understanding.”
Add some pom-poms to a few branches then paint some new ones with the glue. You get bothered by the thoughts of lying, cheating, stealing, whereas before, it didn’t bother you so much.
And the greatest thing – you are aware of God’s presence almost all the time. You are aware of how much he watches over you, leading you , guiding you, and for some reason, loving you.
We don’t become beautiful, and then God loves us. We come to him depressed, or with low self-esteem, or with very dim hopes, with many more needs and sins than talents and gifts.
Hold up Penelope, a colorful and decorated Christmas tree. And he makes us beautiful.
Let’s remember this holiday season that the great lady, the lady our Catholic friends call “Holy Mary Mother of God,” who sits in an esteemed place in heaven, started her walk with God in a tired and dusty little town where nobody thought she stood out.
And let’s expect that if we draw closer to him, God will decorate us for his glory, starting as soon as we tell him to.
You might also be interested in these other awesome Christmas activities!
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