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Reply to "COMPLETE LESSON SET: 1 Maccabees - The Story of Hanukkah ~ Rev. Ron Shifley"

Puppets Lesson Plan - 1 Maccabees 4:6-59 "The Story of Hanukkah"

Praise Him! Playhouse:

Materials:

  • “Kindle a Candle of Light” song by Dan Crow on the CD “Chanukah At Home” copyright 1988 Rounder Records Corp.(also available as digital download through Amazon.com or iTunes) Lyrics of song to hand out to each student
  • Puppets: Alley Cat, Church Mouse, Theo (child or person puppet)
  • Dust cloth to attach to Church Mouse puppet
  • Candelabra
  • Bibles
  • Volunteers to portray the puppet characters
  • Microphone and speaker system
  • Menorahs to be handed out to each student (Menorahs and Hanukkah candles can be purchased in bulk from BargainJudaica.com
  • Copy of “Light of the World: A Hanukkah Devotional for Jesus Followers”  by Rev. Ron Shifley to be handed out for each student  (Attached.  Permission granted for download and printing of devotional for congregational use.)

Teacher preparation:

  1. Read the Scripture passages prayerfully, asking God to show you what He has to say to you and to those He’s given you to teach.
  2. Read the Biblical Explanation and Background, and think about what concepts you need to teach.
  3. Print out lyrics of “Kindle a Candle of Light” for each student.
  4. Prepare the necessary materials.

Lesson Plan

Opening:

Greet the children and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig:

As class begins, share with the kids that today we’ll have a real treat.  There will be a puppet skit based on a story from 1 Maccabees.  Ask kids to find the book of 1 Maccabees in the Bible.  When they are unable to do so, show them the spot in the Bible between Malachi and Matthew and explain that 1 Maccabees is a story that took place between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.  Explain that even though 1 Maccabees is a book that never made it into the Bible, it contains a story of faith that recalls the heroes of the Old Testament and produced a holiday that Jesus celebrated in the New Testament.  If this is not the first Sunday in the rotation, ask kids what they have learned about the story from 1 Maccabees.

Skit

[Church Mouse appears with rag and begins to clean candelabra.  Alley Cat and Theo appear.]

Alley Cat:  Hi Church Mouse!  What are you doing?

Church Mouse: O hi Alley Cat, Hi Theo.  Good to see you.  I’m just polishing our candelabra, here, to help Dianne, our church’s custodian to get the church ready for the holidays.  There’s so much cleaning to be done around here.  Our church is such a big place.  Dianne works really hard to keep everything clean.  But she can’t do it all by herself.  So, when she’s not looking, I help her clean things up once and awhile.

Theo:  That’s really nice of you Church Mouse!  What are you working on right now?

Church Mouse:  I’m cleaning one of my favorite objects in the church.  It’s a candelabra.  Every time I polish the candelabra I think about my ancestors who lived in the Old Country.  You know I come from a long line of church mice.  We’ve been living in God’s House for generations.  Our family has been living in the Church long before the Church ever started.  Generations ago, Amos, the first church mouse lived in Egypt with Moses and the Hebrews who were living as slaves.  He got to actually watch Moses part the Red Sea during the Exodus.  Boy was that something to see!  I’ll have to tell you that story some time…

Alley Cat:  We just learned about Moses and the Exodus. The Parting of the Red Sea was an amazing adventure of faith!

Church Mouse:  Yes it was.  Well anyway, Amos, went with Moses and the Hebrews on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  On the way, God told Moses to build him a tent church, called the Tabernacle, where God could be worshipped along the way to the Promised Land.  Moses asked my great, great, great, great grand pappy Amos if he wouldn’t mind living in the Tabernacle and helping keep it clean.  Amos agreed, and he became the first of a long line of church mice to live in the Lord’s House.  Every time I clean this here candelabra I think of him and the rest of my ancestors.

Theo:  Why is that?

Church Mouse:  Well because the candelabra is one of the oldest items in the church.  Back 3,000 years ago when the Tabernacle was first built, God had Moses construct a candelabra to be placed in the tent church.  Only thing, they called it a menorah back then.  It’s purpose was to light the Tabernacle with a flame that was never extinguished to remind people of God’s presence and salvation.

Theo: That reminds me of our memory verse from Psalm 27, “The LORD is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?”

Church Mouse:  That’s right Theo!  The glowing flames on the menorah reminded God’s people that the LORD is our light and salvation for many, many years.  The menorah, which was housed in the Tabernacle finally made it’s way into Jerusalem when King Solomon built the Temple for God there.  Of course, my family of church mice also got to move into the Temple as well.  And they enjoy polishing the menorah as it lit up the sanctuary, reminding everyone that the LORD is our light and salvation.  That is, until that one terrible, day when…

Alley Cat:  When what happed?

Church Mouse: When the most horrible thing occurred…

Theo:  What occurred, Church Mouse?  Please tell us!

Church Mouse:  When the flames on the menorah were snuffed out and it lit the Temple no more!

Alley Cat: The light of God was extinguished?  Why?

Church Mouse: Many, many years after King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, the Greeks took over the land of Judea. This happened between the times that the Old and New Testaments were written.  King Antiochus, the Greek king didn’t believe in God, our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel.  He worshipped gods made of stone called idols.  His favorite was the Greek god Zeus.  Anyhow, he made laws forbidding the people of Israel from worshipping our God in the Temple.  He even made it illegal to study the Scriptures.  The most horrible thing was he had his soldiers take over the Temple and put up a stone idol of Zeus in the sanctuary and told everyone they had to worship Zeus and not God!  And that’s when it happened.  The Greek soldiers threw the priests and the church mice out of the Temple, and extinguished the flames on the menorah so that it no longer lit up the Temple to remind people that the LORD is our light and salvation.

Alley Cat:  That’s horrible!  What did the people do?

Theo:  What did your family do?

Church Mouse:  Well, my ancestor Abinadab, was the resident Temple mouse at the time.  He joined with the old priest Mattathias when he and his family were kicked out of the Temple.  They fled to the hill country where it was safe.  There they decided that it was not right for the Jews to be told that they couldn’t worship God anymore.  So Mattathias’ sons asked other Jews to join them in forming a rebel band called the Maccabees (which means hammer) to help them break the Greek army so that the Jews could win back their freedom and free Jerusalem and the Temple from Greek control.

Alley Cat:  That sounds like a tough thing to do.

Church Mouse: It was.  The Greeks outnumbered the Maccabees 2 to 1.  But Mattathias’ son, Judah Maccabees wasn’t afraid.  He reminded the Jewish rebels that all they needed was faith in God and they win the battle.  He said, “Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge.  Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea when Pharaoh and his forces pursued them.  And now, let us cry to Heaven, to see whether God will favor us and remember His covenant with our ancestors and crush this army before us today.  Then all the Gentiles will know that there is a God who redeems and saves Israel.”

Theo:  Wow.  Judah must have had a lot of faith.

Alley Cat: of course being reminded of God’s miracle that he worked through Moses when they crossed the Red Sea, was a great way to remember that “the Lord is our light and salvation.”  If God could save the children of Israel at the Red Sea, we know that He will be with us no matter what problems we face.

Church Mouse:  You’re right Alley Cat.  The story of the Exodus is an important story for all of us to remember when we face big challenges.  My ancestor Abinadab and the rest of the Jewish rebels were inspired by Judah’s words.  They knew that God was their light and salvation and that they didn’t need to be afraid anymore.  For God would be with them.  So they prayed to God for help and got ready to face the Greek army.

Theo:  And then what happened?

Church Mouse:  God was with them, just like Judah Maccabees said He would be.  It took a couple of years, and a number of battles, but finally the Maccabees won, and drove the Greeks out of Jerusalem and Judea.  The Jews were so excited after this victory.  They rushed right over to the Temple in Jerusalem to cleanse the sanctuary and re-dedicate to the Lord.  But, what they saw when they got there was heart breaking.

Alley Cat:  What was wrong Church Mouse?  What did they see?

Theo:  Yes, please tell us!

Church Mouse:  The Temple had been left in awful shape.  It was dirty and dingy.  Wild bushes were growing in the courtyard.  The gates had been burned, and the altar was in disrepair.  Even the priests chambers were in ruins.  This sight broke everybody’s heart.  The people couldn’t believe that the Lord’s House had been left in such a way.  Everybody tore their clothes and mourned as if a relative had died.  They sprinkled ashes on their heads, and fell to the ground crying.  As the trumpets sounded, everybody cried out to Heaven in mournful prayer to God.

Alley Cat:  Wow!  I’ve never seen the church look that way.  Our custodian always makes it look so clean and ready for Sunday worship.  What did the people do?

Church Mouse:  They did the only thing they could do.  They cleaned the Temple from top to bottom.  They made a new altar and rebuilt the interior sanctuary.  Judas even instructed the priests to make new holy vessels for the Holy Place.  When everything was completed they brought the menorah and the other furniture into the temple to prepare it for worship.  Every time I help clean up around church, I’m reminded of all the cleaning my ancestors did to get the Temple ready for worship once again.  I never want our church to look like the Temple did back then.

Alley Cat:  Neither would I.

Church Mouse:  Well, after the Temple was all cleaned up, the people were ready to rededicate the Temple.  When the priests went to fill the seven oil cups on the menorah to light the lamps with God’s holy fire, they discovered that there was only one pot of purified olive oil left in the Temple with which to light the lamps on the menorah.  The problem was, it would take seven days to make more purified oil that was fit to be used in the Temple, and there was only enough oil keep the lamps lit for one night.

Theo:  So did Judas Maccabees postpone the Temple’s rededication?

Church Mouse:  No, everyone was so excited to worship in the Temple again, that they lit the menorah by faith, in hopes that God would work a miracle or something.  And you know what?  God did.  The menorah stayed lit for eight nights, just long enough for more holy oil to be produced.  The Maccabees decided that, since God had provided this miracle, that the people should celebrate the Feast of Dedication of Hanukkah, every year starting on the same day to remember how God freed his people from religious persecution and how God worked a miracle in the Temple through the miracle of the oil.

Alley Cat:  I’ve heard about Hanukkah.  The Jews celebrate it every year around November and December.  I just never knew what the holiday was all about.

Theo:  Neither did I.

Church Mouse:  The cool thing is, God’s people have celebrated Hanukkah every year ever since.  The Bible tells us that Jesus even went up to the Temple in Jerusalem one winter to celebrate Hanukkah with the rest of his people.  If Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, then you know that this holiday is really special.

Alley Cat:  I wish I could celebrate the biblical holiday of Hanukkah too.

Church Mouse:  You can.  That’s why I’m cleaning the candelabra.  I’m getting it ready to light for our church’s celebration of Hanukkah.  For eight nights we’ll light the candles and remember God’s miracle in Jerusalem so many years ago.

Theo:  I can’t wait to celebrate that “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?”

Church Mouse:  Let’s go.  We’ve got to fry some donuts for the Hanukkah party.  I can’t wait to show you guys how to play the game of Dreidel.  It’s a lot of fun…

[Puppets exit]

The End.

Reflection:


After the skit is over, say:

You know what, you get to celebrate Hanukkah too this year.  We’ve got a menorah for each of you along with a devotional booklet that will help you and your family light the menorah for the eight nights of Hanukkah.  Each night of Hanukkah you’ll remember the faith of the Maccabees, the miracle of the oil, and how Jesus celebrated Hanukkah in the Temple.

Here’s a song that reminds us of the miracle of Hanukkah.

[Sing"Kindle a Candle of Light" together.  Pass out the menorahs and devotional booklets to all the kids.  Recite the memory verse one more time: “The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 27:1)]

Close with prayer.

Attachments
Light of the World Devotional.pdf

Written by Rev. Ron Shifley from: Scotland United Church of Christ
Scotland, SD, USA

A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.

Attachments

Last edited by Luanne Payne

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