Gingerbread House Outreach

We posted this last Christmas, but  since it is such a “goodie”, we wanted to post again for this holiday season!

 

Gingerbread House Outreach

by Anna Clagett

I love Christmas!  I have been known to begin playing Christmas carols around September, and I’m always eager to get out all the Christmas boxes the day after Thanksgiving.

The reason I love Christmas so much, is that it is a holiday where most of the world remembers and honors the birth of Christ in surrounding itself with beauty, and responding to His gift to us by giving of themselves to others.

It is also a wonderful and natural time to share with those who may not know Him about what Jesus means to us.  I have many friends who’ve taken advantage of this time of year to share their faith in creative ways.  Some of my friends have hosted a holiday tea at their home for neighbors where a guest speaker has shared the Gospel with them.  I have several friends who host an annual “Birthday Party for Jesus” where a cake is assembled with each step symbolizing parts of the Gospel.  Some friends deliver holiday dinners to the less fortunate or even go caroling as a means to share the Gospel.

One tradition that I especially cherished as a child was making a gingerbread house with my family.  And as I had children of my own, over the years I’ve developed our own tradition using gingerbread houses as the basis for sharing the Gospel with families in my neighborhood.

I happen to have a mold for a gingerbread house, so a couple of weeks before my party, I begin to bake walls and roofs enough for each of my guests.  I prepare enough component parts for each child, or one per family depending on the number of people I expect and on how much time I have.  If you’d like to simplify, you could accomplish the same thing by using 1/4 pt. milk cartons and graham crackers on hand for each child.

I ask each guest family to bring a bag of candy for decorating to give us a good variety, and as they arrive, I let them spread out around my kitchen and dining room to create their houses.

I take pictures, and provide coffee and cider, and keep everyone supplied adequately with icing, and candy.

When everyone finishes, I invite all the children and adults to join me around the Christmas tree.

Gingerbread Recipe

(Makes 1 Gingerbread Building)

[Section Break]

3 c. all purpose flour

1 ½ t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground ginger

½ t. baking soda

½ t. salt

¼ t. ground cloves

½ c. margarine

½ c. sugar

½ c. molasses

1 egg

[Section Break]

Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, and cloves.  Mix well.  In large mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar until blended.  Add molasses and egg.  Beat until smooth.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Mix well.  Lay plastic wrap tightly over dough and chill at least 30 minutes.

If using a mold:  Press dough firmly into lightly greased mold filling all sections.  Trim away excess using serrated knife.  Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes.  Cool in mold for 5 minutes.  Remove pieces from mold.  Repeat as necessary.

If not using a mold:  Draw walls and roof on paper and cut apart to use as a pattern. Roll dough onto lightly floured surface approximately ½ inch thick.  Cut to desired shape around paper, and carefully place on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Icing Glue

4 c. powdered sugar

3 egg whites

1/8 t. cream of tartar

Place all ingredients in a medium, non-plastic mixing bowl.  Beat on low speed for 5-7 minutes or until icing is glossy and holds peaks.  The icing dries very quickly, and must be covered or kept in an airtight container and refrigerated when not in use.  Icing may be tinted with food coloring if desired.

House Kit:

1 set of 4 walls, and two roof pieces, pre-made

OR 1 1/4 pint emptied milk carton and graham crackers

icing glue

plastic or butter knives

cardboard base (approximately 12”x12”)

candy assortment (ask each family to bring one bag)

wet paper towels, washcloths, or wipes for messes

Make gingerbread ahead of time, one per family, or one per child depending on how many guests you expect and on how ambitious you are.  As the guest arrive, hand out the “house kits,” and let them have at it.  (I always try to take some pictures of each family working on their house(s) to give to them later.)  As the guests finish up their creations I like to gather all the children around the Christmas tree.  The adults make themselves comfortable around the room as well.  Then I begin to tell the children about what gingerbread houses remind me of:

“The Gingerbread Gospel”

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a life-sized gingerbread house?  What would your favorite candy house be made out of?  (let the children offer ideas.)

That would almost seem like the perfect place to live, wouldn’t it?  Well, the Bible tells us about a real perfect place to live.  It’s called heaven.  That’s where Jesus lived long ago.  But God decided to send Jesus from His perfect house in heaven to earth.  Do you know what was the first house Jesus lived in on earth?  (pause to let children answer)  It was a stable, and his first bed was a manger.  What is a stable? (a barn) What do you think it would have smelled like?  What would it have looked like?  What would have been in that stable?  And what is a manger?  (a feeding trough for animals)  Was it anything like the perfect place Jesus came from? (Luke 2:7)

Now why do you think that God would send His own Son from a perfect house in heaven (John 17:5), to a dirty, smelly, cold place like a stable?  (children offer answers)  Because He loves you very much!  He wanted you to know Him and so He sent His Son to tell you and show you all about God.  Jesus did just that.  He taught us about God, and the things that He taught are all written down for us in the Bible.

One day, when Jesus was still a young man, he left his home on earth.  He died for all the bad things we’ve done.  And now He has a new home.  Do you know where that is?  He wants to live in our hearts.  (Rev. 3:20) He will come and live in our hearts if we ask Him to, and forgive us of all the wrong things we’ve done!  Now, why do you think He would want to live inside us, and forgive us of our sins?  (listen to any responses)  He does that because He loves each one of you so much!  He wants to always be close to you, and help you.

Finally, the Bible says one more important thing about houses.  It says that Jesus is preparing a house for each one of us in heaven. (John 14:2) He says that one day, we can all live forever with Him there in that perfect, wonderful place!

Now, when you take your gingerbread house home, I want you to remember how much Jesus loves you every time you look at it.  And I want you to remember that Jesus wants to live inside you, and to have you live with Him in heaven some day.

Let me pray and thank Jesus for all His houses.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for leaving heaven to come to earth to teach us about God.  And thank You for dying for all the wrong things we’ve done, and wanting to live inside us.  Thank You for preparing a place for us in Your beautiful heaven.

Amen

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