{ Christmas Gatherings Manual

How to Present the Christmas Gathering Talk

  1. The (P) indicates where you would personalize the talk.
  2. The (T) indicates transition sentences to help flow smoothly through your talk.
A. An introduction:

Your introduction should capture the attention of the audience. Use a few introductory sentences to transition from the tradition sharing to your talk. Include a personal, non-religious Christmas tradition. Use enough detail to make your tradition interesting, but not too long.
(P) I have enjoyed hearing the traditions many of you have shared. Recently, I asked my own children what they remembered our family traditions to be. When all three mentioned the decorating of the Christmas tree, I was certain they were thinking about those wonderful individual ornaments I either made or purchased for them each year…but nobody mentioned the ornaments! What they all remembered was the annual discussion over who should run to Target to get more lights–when none of them worked–and the tinsel war! Should we hang each piece of tinsel individually and carefully as my family always did (the right way) OR should we throw it on in big clumps as my husband’s family did? I was grateful when all three children remembered the darkened room and that wonderful moment when we turned on the lights for the first time and cuddled on the couch together with Christmas music playing softly in the background.
Probably the most common Christmas tradition is gift giving. Certainly the giving and receiving of gifts is part of what we remember about Christmas. Let’s pause for a moment and think about the dynamics of “gift giving”!

  1. Giver: the giver of the gift is someone who makes a sacrifice of money, time…
  2. Gift: a gift is free, no obligation, no strings attached, usually serves a purpose or fulfills a need
  3. Receiver: person who chooses to receive the gift, opens the gift, uses the gift as his (her) own

Now, I have a gift in my hands.
I am the giver of this gift.
In order to complete my illustration, I need someone to receive my gift, someone to come and take the gift and claim it as his (her) own…(Wait for someone to take the gift and open it).
While {insert name here} opens the gift, let’s go over the characteristics of gift giving:

  1. I was the giver of the gift. There was some sacrifice involved in picking it out, wrapping it, and there was a little sacrifice in terms of money.
  2. Then we have the gift itself. It is free. Did you see {insert name here} give me any money? I don’t see any money. I don’t know if {insert name here} even really deserves the gift. But it was given with no conditions or strings attached. Hopefully, it will serve a purpose this Christmas season and will be a special reminder of our Christmas Gathering today.
  3. {Insert name here} gets to keep the gift because he (she) is the one who claimed it as his (her) own.

(T) My reason for going through this illustration of the elements of gift giving is that {insert name here} has asked me to share for a few moments about the most precious and greatest gift that was ever given.

B . The Gospel Message:

1. God’s Love
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”
These words are from the book of John in the Bible and may or may not be familiar to you.
Let’s take a moment and reflect on what these words from the Bible mean:
God . . .who is God? God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He created everything in the world including you and me. And because He created us, He knows everything about us. He knows what fills our heart with joy, and He knows what causes us to grieve. He knows when we are lonely, He knows our frustrations and our hurts. He knows what makes us laugh. He knows all of these things because He made us. He created you and me to have a personal relationship with Him forever.
2. Man’s Sin
And how do we respond to God’s plan for us? We often turn our backs on God and choose to go our own way, rather than God’s way. The reason we do this is because we seek fulfillment for our lives, not in God, the Creator of the universe, but in the things He has created. We worship intellect, material things, money, and other people. We worship the things that God made rather than worshipping the Creator.
This separates us from God and is called sin. Anything that separates us from God is called sin. The Bible tells us, “All of us have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” All I have to do is open the paper or turn on the TV to see the results of sin in the world–the greed, violence, hunger or self centeredness. But God never stopped loving us.
3. God’s Provision
In fact, “God so loved the world that He gave” – Some 2000 years ago God gave His Son Jesus to be born in a stable. When I was a little girl, I thought a stable was the cute little red barn with the sweet smelling animals and clean hay that I saw in pictures. It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that the stable was actually a dark, damp cave where animals were kept. They were not very sweet smelling, and the hay was probably not very clean. The manger in which Jesus slept was actually the animals’ feeding trough. Imagine, our children are born under conditions fit for a king, and Jesus, the King of Creation, was born under conditions fit for an animal.
Fortunately, Jesus didn’t stay in the manger. He grew to be a man and lived on this earth for about 33 years. While He was on earth, He said and did many amazing things which are recorded not only in the Bible, but also in other historical books written during that time.
One of the amazing things Jesus said was,
Key Verse: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
He could say that because of something that He did – something that I still don’t completely understand.
He willingly chose to die on the cross for every sin that you and I would ever commit! He died on the cross in our place. Jesus paid the penalty by shedding His blood, so that you and I would no longer be separated from God because of our sin. Because Jesus willingly laid down His life, we can have forgiveness for our sin and have a relationship with God restored forever. How can we know this is true? Because Jesus rose from the dead! He was seen by over 500 witnesses, before returning to Heaven. He’s alive! The Bible tells us He sits at the right hand of God, the Father, praying for us – for you and for me.
(T) Now let’s see how this relates to the gift illustration:

  1. Who is the giver of the greatest gift? God. He gave us a gift that involved the greatest amount of love and sacrifice.
  2. The gift was Jesus Christ. His purpose was to restore our broken relationship with God the Father and assure us of eternal life. The gift of Jesus Christ is free and cannot be earned. Even though most of us try to live good lives, we will never deserve Him. However, the opposite is true, no matter how much we have sinned, the gift of Jesus Christ will never be withheld from us. This is where my gift illustration breaks down. I only had one gift to give and only one of you could accept it. But the gift of Jesus Christ is offered to each one of us.

Think about the third characteristic. We’ve looked at the giver of the gift, the gift itself, and now we need to look at the receiver of the gift. We can know all the words to every Christmas carol, send religious Christmas cards attend every church service or mass that’s offered, but the gift of Jesus Christ cannot be truly ours until we choose to believe He is who He says He is and receive Him into our lives.
4. Our Response:
In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, there is a word picture where Jesus says; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.” This is a picture of Jesus Christ gently knocking on the door of your life; at the door of your heart. And do you know what this means to you and me? It means that Jesus will not force His way into our lives. He will wait until we choose to invite Him in, to believe in Him and receive Him.
Your testimony (spiritual journey) is not the main focus of the talk. It is important to consider your audience and select a few, brief details from your life that will help the guests to identify with you.
(P) Church was very important to me as a child and even as a young adult. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood for the first time that Christianity was not just a religion, but a relationship with Jesus Christ. I realized I needed to believe that Jesus is who He says He is and by faith receive Him into my life. When I did, it was like finding the missing piece of a puzzle.
(T) You may be wondering how does someone begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. We begin by simply telling God the desire of our hearts and the way we talk to God is through prayer. In a moment, I will say going a simple prayer similar to what I prayed when I received Christ. Would you please listen carefully to the words of my prayer? If they express what you would like to say to God today, I invite you to pray silently along with me. Could we all bow our heads?

C. Prayer to receive Christ:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me so much that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sin. I open the door of my life and invite Jesus to come and live in me. Make me the kind of person that You want me to be. Amen.”
Remember to keep this prayer simple and brief. We recommend that you write it out and read it or memorize it.
Assurance of Salvation:
(T) If you have believed and received Jesus Christ into your life sometime in the past or if you have prayed with me today, there is a wonderful promise in the Bible that we can cling to in this unstable world. Jesus says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Christmas is not a always a joyful time. Sometimes there are circumstances of life that make this season difficult and lonely. You may have lost someone through death or a broken relationship, or perhaps you have moved and are far away from the people you love. But if Jesus Christ is in your life because you invited Him to come in, you have His promise that He will never leave you or forsake you.

D. Comment Cards

(T) I want to thank ( Host ) for inviting me here today, and I want to thank you for listening to what I have shared. Now I want to give all of us the opportunity to communicate and reflect on our time together. I have some cards and pencils which I will pass around, and this is what I would like you to do with these cards. You might like to take a moment and share with ( Host ) how you felt about being here today and spending time together. I would welcome your honest comments about what I have shared.
( Host ) is considering staring a basic 4-6 week Bible study (discussion group) in January. If you have never been in a study before, this would be a great opportunity to learn more about God. Please write the words “Bible Study” on your card and include your name and phone number if you would like more information. Finally, if you listened to my prayer and prayed silently with me, would you indicate that on your card by putting an X or the words “I prayed with you.” Thank you for taking the time to communicate with us. When you are finished, please put your card in this basket on the table.
Note: If it is not possible to offer a Bible study please say:
“One of the things that has helped me has been being a small group Bible study. I know that there are some wonderful basic studies in the area. If you would be interested in knowing more about them, ( Host ) could let you know what is available. If you think you might be interested, write “Bible Study” on your card and include your name and phone number. ( Host ) will contact you after the holidays. When you are finished, please put your card in this basket on the table.

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