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Christmas crackers

To convey the anticipation felt at Christmas, both before the first Christmas and today.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To question whether having more leads to increased happiness.

Preparation and materials

  • Two or more traditional Christmas crackers and one homemade cracker with a picture inside of the baby Jesus in the stable.
  • The Bible passage is taken from Isaiah 9.6–7 (NRSV).

Assembly

  1. What are you most looking forward to this Christmas? (Either ask this as a question for the children to answer in pairs, or take answers from the front, or just let the children think about it and offer the following suggestions.)

    – 
    the presents
    –  the parties
    –  a special time with my family
    –  the food
    –  singing Christmas songs
    –  the magic of it all.

    Most of us look forward to something at Christmas. The anticipation (the looking forward) is sometimes as much fun as Christmas itself!
  2. (Pick some children to come up to the front (two or four will work well). Give each child a Christmas cracker.)

    How do you feel to have a cracker in your hand? (Try to draw out feelings of excitement and anticipation.)
    How much do you want to pull the cracker and see what’s inside?
    What do you expect to find inside?
    Now pull your cracker. (Let the children enjoy the contents!)
    What do you think of what’s inside?

    Crackers are really exciting because the contents are a surprise. Sometimes we’re pleased with the gift inside, sometimes disappointed.
  3. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Jews were excited about the coming of a Saviour.

    At that time, their enemies had attacked their land and taken them all away as prisoners. They were forced to settle down in a foreign country. They were homesick. They longed to go back to their own land, their own villages, towns and homes.

    A man called Isaiah told them about a coming Saviour who would set them free. Isaiah said:

    ‘For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
    authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
    Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
    for the throne of David and his kingdom.’

    Wow! A child. Mighty God! Prince of Peace! Endless peace! No more suffering! Freedom from exploitation!
  4. (Have in your hand the handmade cracker containing a picture of baby Jesus in the stable.)

    The people must have been so excited. The anticipation must have been too much to bear! A million times more exciting than holding a cracker in your hand!

    (Pull the cracker and show the picture of the baby Jesus.)

    The birth of the baby Jesus was the fulfilment of the prophecy Isaiah had made many years before.
  5. But what a surprise! A mighty king born in a stable? With poor parents?

    There were lots of different reactions to Jesus’ birth.

    –  King Herod, the man who was king when he was born, tried to kill him.

    –  Many Jews were disappointed and couldn’t believe that Jesus was the one promised long ago. They said, ‘What a letdown! A King? No way! A Saviour? You must be joking!’

    –  Other people knew that God can work in surprising ways. They came to worship the newborn king.

Time for reflection

Today there are still lots of different reactions to Christmas.

Some people love it; others hate it.

Some people look forward to it; others worry about it.

Some people have too much to do; others sit at home alone.

Some people celebrate the birth of Jesus; others do not.

Prayer
Father God,
thank you for Christmas,
for all that we are looking forward to this year.
Help us to remember those who are not looking forward to Christmas.
Help us to be there for them.
Amen.

Song/music

Any suitable Christmas song.

Publication date: December 2012   (Vol.14 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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