Author: Text taken directly from King James Version of the Bible
Illustrator: Design by Karen Pauls and Ed Luhmann)
Publisher: Concordia Publishing House
Publisher’s Intended Audience: Ages 4-8 (It should be noted that language from King James Version can sometimes be difficult for young children to understand.
Summary: The First Christmas According to Luke features illustrated scripture from the Gospel of Luke including the foretelling of the birth of Jesus (beginning at Luke 1:26) and the birth narrative (beginning at Luke 2:1).
Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus tells the story of Mary and Joseph who traveled from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem to register. While in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to a son, Jesus, and having found no place in the inn, places him in a manger. An angel of the Lord visits the shepherds guarding their flocks in nearby fields and brings them “good news of great joy”. The angel tells them they will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger and the shepherds hurry to the manger in Bethlehem where they find Jesus with Mary and Joseph.
Literary elements at work in the story: This book takes the text exactly as it is presented in the King James Bible in the Gospel of Luke. The story is told by a narrator and is set in both Galilee and Judaea. Though the text of the King James Version of the Bible is less reader-friendly than other translations, the brightly colored illustrations may serve to enhance a child’s understanding of the story. Luke’s birth narrative is a beautifully written story of Jesus’ birth and is the one most frequently read during the Christmas season.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability: Though women are often secondary characters in Biblical stories, the Gospel of Luke presents Mary as a main character in the birth narrative featured in this book. In addition, The First Christmas includes a portion of the foretelling of Jesus’ birth in which the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will have a son.
The birth narrative in this book also reveals the humble beginnings of Jesus…born in a barn, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger because there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn. A message from the angel of the Lord about the birth of Jesus is brought not to kings or the social elite but to shepherds abiding in the field.
Scripture: Luke 1:1-4 – Book opens with this scripture, the introduction to the Gospel of Luke
Luke 2:1-20- The birth of Jesus
Luke 2:40- “The child grew and became strong…”
Matthew 1:18-2:12- The birth of Jesus (compare this telling to that of Luke)
Theology: As our world becomes more materialistic and Christmas becomes more about buying gifts and spending money it is critical that we remember The First Christmas. Christmas is about the birth of Christ the Lord our Savior. It is about God’s great love for us and his glorious plan for our salvation. In Luke’s account of the birth narrative, we are reminded that the first Christmas was not about material things, wealth, or excess. In Luke’s story we learn about Mary and Joseph, people of little means, who have their baby in a barn and place him in a manger because they have nowhere else to go. They were visited by shepherds who did not shower them with gifts but simply glorified and praised God for all they had seen and heard. The first Christmas was about one gift- the birth of Jesus Christ.
Faith Talk Questions (can be used with all ages):
- What is it like reading this story with pictures?
- Do the pictures match the images you may have had in your head as you read this story in the past?
- How do the pictures change the way you think about the story or the meaning it has for you?
- Why did the angel Gabriel come to visit Mary to tell her she was going to have a son? How do you think Mary felt when she heard this news?
- Why do you think the angel of the Lord came to the shepherds to bring the news of Jesus’ birth? How do you think the shepherds felt when they heard the news?
Prepared by Erin Mills, MACE, Entering cohort 2007