To recall the significance of Christmas greetings
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To recall the significance of Christmas greetings.
Preparation and materials
- You will need 5 Christmas cards of contrasting designs, including a religious one that represents the Christmas story, ideally including the shepherds.
- The cards should be colour enlarged if possible to make A3 sized cards. Print appropriate Christmas greetings and stick them inside the cards. The greeting inside the religious design should read: 'Joy to you at Christmas time'. If you can place the giant cards into oversized 'envelopes' this will enhance anticipation and interest in this assembly.
- An alternative method of displaying the cards is to copy them onto transparency paper and use an OHP.
- If any classes have designed Christmas cards, this assembly could provide an opportunity for some children to display their work. Some of the designs might substitute for those above.
- Begin by asking whether anyone has sent or received any Christmas cards yet. Can anyone guess how many Christmas cards are sent each year? In the UK it's been estimated that the number is over a thousand million!
- Introduce the prepared selection of Christmas cards. Which do the children like most? In their opinion, which most reflects the 'spirit of Christmas'? Highlight the contrasting colours and styles of the designs.
- Explain that the first Christmas cards were printed in 1846, with just one design and the greeting: 'A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you'. Not many were sold until the invention of a new method of colour printing, which meant that cards could be made and sold more cheaply. By 1860, Christmas cards had become a popular way of sending Christmas greetings and in 1870 the halfpenny post was introduced, so even more cards were sent. (How much does it cost to send a Christmas card today?)
- Focus on the card with the religious design. The presence of shepherds in the Christmas story is because of what might be called the first Christmas greeting of all. Refer to the wording inside the card as a clue to the identity of the bearers of that greeting. St Luke tells how, one night, an angel appeared to shepherds as they cared for their flocks. 'Don't be afraid,' said the angel. 'I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to everyone. Today…your Saviour was born - Christ the Lord!' (Luke 2.10-11). The shepherds were filled with joy! They knew that God had not forgotten them.
- Refer back to the Christmas cards. Each card that is sent is a message of friendship and can help someone else to know that they are not forgotten. Are there any individuals or groups that the children feel should be remembered in this way? Reflect that our Christmas greetings can echo the message of the angels.
Time for reflection
Begin by praying: 'Loving God, in our assembly today we want to remember and pray for…'
Then write Christmas cards to several of the people or groups suggested in 5. above, mentioning them by name.
Conclude: 'May they know peace and joy this Christmas.'
'Mary had a baby' (Come and Praise, 123)