Dec 12

It helps to have all the information! – an object lesson for the 4th week of Advent

Riddle-BookObjects needed:

a book of riddles, possibly an ‘object’ that ties into the riddle you choose to read for the children

Theme/Main Idea:

Riddles are fun—or “work”—because they use assumptions we make about things and turn them on their heads. Maybe it’s a word or phrase that has a double-meaning, but once we know the answer to the riddle it all makes sense. Before then, without all the information, it might confound us. Joseph was ready to “dismiss Mary quietly” when he heard she was pregnant… then he got all the information and the riddle was solved!


“Good morning boys and girls. I have something fun for us today, and maybe a little different. Would you like to see what my object lesson is today?

[kids respond, “Yes!” and then maybe are disappointed when they see it’s a book…]

Some of you don’t look too impressed. But this book can be a lot of fun, because it has riddles in it. Do you know what riddles are?

[children respond… some may even have a riddle to teach you!]

Yes, they are fun and puzzling questions that are hard to answer at first because the answer is unexpected. Here’s one of my favorites… [if you don’t have a book of riddles or a favorite one you’d like to use, I’d suggest you use the following riddle!]

Ready? Okay, what’s black and white and red all over? No, adults… it’s not a newspaper! And, I’m guessing most of our kids are not that familiar with newspapers and why people read them!

So… What’s black and white and red all over? Any guesses?

[children guess, hopefully without success]

Okay, nice guesses… I’ll tell you the answer. It’s black and white and red all over, and it’s… wait for it… a PENGUIN WITH A SUNBURN! Isn’t that funny?!

That’s a pretty silly riddle, but sometimes riddles are more serious. Sometimes riddles are questions that don’t present any easy answers. Joseph had a riddle on his hands when he found out that his bride to be, Mary, was pregnant and going to have a baby!

He knew enough to know where babies came from and how they came to be… I’m not going to get into that this morning… but Joseph knew that Mary was a good person, but that the child couldn’t possibly be his! “How could Mary have done this to me?” Joseph surely thought! He couldn’t find an easy answer, so he was going to break off the engagement and not get married to Mary.

But, that’s when he heard the answer to the riddle he had been given. In Matthew 1:20-21 we read:
‘An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

Wow! Totally unexpected, maybe like the answer to my riddle earlier? But, once Joseph knew the answer to the riddle it all made sense… Mary was a good person, and she didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, she was such a good person, God chose her to carry the baby Jesus and give birth to the Savior of the world! Now, Joseph was asked to be like a foster dad or adoptive parent to Jesus… Jesus wouldn’t be blood-related to him, but he would very much be Jesus’ dad on earth. What a wonderful riddle and an amazing gift to be given… God trusted Joseph to figure out that riddle and love Jesus as his son and raise him well.

Maybe you’ve had some tough riddles in life. Maybe you can’t figure out how God could possibly bring some good out of a parent’s divorce or a friend moving away. Maybe your riddles are more serious, like they are for the kids at Intermountain, where you wonder if you can trust anyone but yourself, or perhaps you wonder if loving someone is worth the hurt that you open yourself up to?

Let’s close our time this morning by asking God to help show us where he is in the midst of our riddles in life, especially the ones that don’t have any answers that we can figure out. Maybe we won’t get an answer like Joseph did, but hopefully we can trust that God will help us and love us through our questions no matter what.

Let’s pray:

God, we know that you trust us just like you trusted Joseph. We get riddles in life, and often we try to figure them out all on our own. Help us to trust you in return, that if and when we need an answer to any riddle in life, you can give us the answer. And, if the answer isn’t coming to us, maybe you are just asking us to trust you and have faith that it will be okay. We pray for the kids that Intermountain serves, and for the huge questions they have, about you and about other relationships. Show us and show them your love this day and always. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Key Text: Matthew 1:18-25 (NIrV)

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was faithful to the law. But he did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly.
20 But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That’s because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, 23 “The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means “God with us.”
24 Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not sleep with her until she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.