BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO):
Beloved lines from Luke immortalized by Charlie Brown.
Linus actually. Treat yourself. Get the video or tape it off the tube and watch it one more time!
Charles Schultz's dunderhead character who can't even pick out a decent tree is perfectly in keeping with the long line of
loveable underdogs that populate this story. Take for example the shepherds. Not exactly the most upscale, scholarly or refined
folk to receive the incredible message of the angels. But receive it they did, then immediately sailed off to check out this
fantastic report. Who better to discover the Prince of Peace resting in a humble manger.
This idyllic account of the Christmas story relies on its at times obscured, gloomy context in order for the profound hopefulness
of its impact to be appreciated. In a 1971 Advent sermon called "The Leap in the Dark," in Northrop Frye on Religion, the
Canadian writer and scholar points out:
"When Luke begins his account of the Nativity with a decree by Augustus that all the world should be taxed, we should realize
that such a decree fell with a crushing weight on the poor that we can hardly conceive of today... Blood, terror, misery,
humiliation were just as much an inseparable part of that first Christmas as Bangladesh and Cambodia are an inseparable part
of this one...
"Once we accept the identity of God with man, the principle that God works in man only under the limitations of the human
situation and that diversity in man is to be associated with suffering and endurance rather than prosperity -- once we accept
this, it is all over with the benevolent Providence who showers goodies on his beloved middle class and will get around to
the less fortunate parts of mankind somewhat later... That God is dead, except, of course, that he never was alive."
[The closing paragraphs of this piece are awesome. Try to find a copy and read to the end yourself!]
Hear a clip of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter.’
Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Sibbery includes this song (lyrics by Christina Rossetti, music by Gustav Holst) on Jane’s
strange and wonderful collection of ‘hymns of earth’ on her 2003 release, Shushan the Palace.
Click here for lyrics.
As you might well imagine, scores of artists have produced phenomenal pieces based on the Nativity story. Here are just a
few links to some terrific pictures.
Click here for William Blake.
Here for Chagall.
And here for Goya (‘The Holy Family’).
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Can you think of some reasons why shepherds would be the perfect audience for angels announcing the birth of the Christ
2. Why would the shepherds have been greatly afraid of these angels?
3. What was so special about the things the shepherds later said that Mary pondered them in her heart?
4. Explain this phrase in your own words: “the principle that God works in man only under the limitations of the human
situation.” How absolute is the word “only” in this phrase?
5. What in your mind represents the dark context that the Christmas story might cast a ray of hope over this year?
6. Can you think of some way you personally can help with or lighten this dark context?
IN REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN IN YOUR WORKSHOPS COVER THESE TWO POINTS:
1. REVIEW THE STORY WITH THE CHILDREN. HAVE THEM SUMMARIZE TO DEMONSTRATE TO ALL HOW MUCH MORE THEY REMEMBER FROM PAST WEEKS.
2. EXPLAIN HOW YOUR ACTIVITY CONNECTS TO THE STORY.
Arts -- snow globe
In this snow domw, glitter falls on the reason for the season.
Activity: make your own snow dome.
Materials: small jar (any size), sandpaper, glue gun, tin foil star to fit in jar, distilled water, pinch of glitter, dash
Make small stars from foil or pie pan. (You can use small toy ones as well). Scuff inside of lid with sand paper to make glue
stick better. Glue down star. When dry, fill jar almost to top with water. Add pinch of glitter and dash of glycerin. Screw
on lid tightly.
Kitchen -- cake in a tin
Share these gifts in a tin as Christmas presents.
Activity: bake small cakes in lidded tins.
Materials/Ingredients: small lidded tins from dollar store. Favourite carrot cake recipe.
Instructions: Mix enough batter for all children. Divide batter evenly into tins, to about 2/3 full.
** These can also be baked in clean tin cans. Fill to 2/3 with batter. Cover with wax paper and elastic band or ribbon and
give to a friend.
*****For pictures of cakes in tins or jars, go to the Photo page of this site and follow links.*****
Fluffy the Christmas Sheep (Sunday Software)
To keep it fresh for the kids, consider focussing on the Prophets to convey a sense of the hopefulness that the Messiah was
supposed to bring.
Review of Activities from Christmas 1
Arts -- folk art angels
Kitchen -- cookie mix in a jar
Computer -- Fluffy.