Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable
Shepherds And Angels: Messengers of the Covenant
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Discuss the sights and sounds of the visit of the angels, and the reaction of the shepherds. Allow students to choose from a variety of media to create a scene of their choice. [Note: 1st – 3rd graders visited this workshop.]
Luke 2:1 and Luke 2:8-12
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Easel and appropriate marker
- Bibles (for 3rd grade)
- Story Bible for younger students: Read With Me Bible
- Table covers (located in tub under small wooden table)
- Construction paper – black or dark blue
- A variety of art materials: Oil Pastels, Crayons, Glitter Glue, Gel Pens, Gel Markers, Colored Pencils
- For use with oil pastels: craft sticks, toothpicks, Kleenex or Paper towel
- Six cards with pictures that tell the story, two sets
Advanced Preparation Requirements:
- Have materials ready to pass out. (It is best not to have them be on the tables where students will sit.)
- Spread out the table covers.
- Write the key Bible verse on the easel.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Art Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance while you are starting your lesson.]
SAY: Today in our Bible story we will hear about how angels and shepherds were messengers, and we’ll talk about the news they shared. First, let’s start with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for sending a baby who turned out to be the guiding shepherd of us all. Help us to follow where this good shepherd leads us. And help us to go tell everyone everywhere the good news of Jesus’ birth. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
- What is a messenger’s job? (to deliver a message)
- How many of you have a younger brother or sister?
- Do you remember when your younger brother or sister was born?
- Did you tell anyone about the birth of your brother/sister?
- Did it feel good delivering that good news?
- What is the good news about Jesus’ birth? (accept a few answers)
Say: Let’s go out to the Bible timeline mural and look at the pictures painted there. Let’s go see if we can see anything about good news.
Head out to the time line:
Remind students not to touch the art work.
Head towards the Creation portion of the time line.
Ask: Can anyone find one of the stories we covered since September? (Noah or Abraham & Sarah)
Say: This is what we call a “time line.” It is a way of seeing events that happened as time has passed. There are thousands of years pictured here. We can see events are listed on the bottom of the wall along with the dates of their approximate happening. [Point this out.]
Ask: Where can we find God in these pictures?
[There are lots of answers – here’s a hint: look for the color of peachy-orange. See it, for example, in creation, in the proclamation of Isaiah’s words (“unto us a son is born…"), and see it in the time line bar during Jesus’ life. The artist purposely painted this color everywhere she saw God.]
Say: Recall how I’d said we should come out here to see if we could find any good news.
Ask: Isn’t it good news to see that God has been involved in our history since the creation of the earth?
Say: It is also very good news that God is still involved in our lives.
Ask the students to find what part of the time line shows Jesus’ birth.
Head back to the classroom.
Back in the classroom:
Say: Let’s read our Bible story. We are looking for who first brought the message of the good news about Jesus’ birth.
- Where in the Bible would we read a story about Jesus? (in the NT)
- What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament?
- What do we call those first four books? (the Gospels)
Say: The word Gospel means “good news.”
For 3rd grade and up:
Distribute Bibles. Have everyone find Luke 2:1 in the Bible.
Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament. (Opening the bible in middle lands you usually in psalms. Taking just the back half and finding the middle of that, gets you to the beginning of NT.)
Ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.
Ask: Who was the first messenger to tell the good news about Jesus’ birth? (an angel)
[If the students don’t know, ask them to follow along as you read to them Luke 2:8-12.]
Ask: What did the angel tell the shepherds?
Have the students find and read Luke 2:10. Point out that this is part of our key Bible verse. Have everyone repeat this part of the verse with you again.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Say: We find our story in the Gospel that was written by Luke. Listen as I read you this story from a Bible story book.
Read pages 256 - 265 of the Read with Me Bible. Show the pictures as you read. [In later weeks of the Rotation, have the students tell you the story. Show the pictures to prompt the telling.
For all students:
Say: We have materials here for you each to create a picture of the shepherds and the angels or perhaps you’d rather show the shepherds visiting baby Jesus; it is your choice.
Allow the students to choose the material they would like to work with. It may be helpful to have all the students that want to use a certain medium, to sit by one another.
Some hints on working with oil pastels:
- Experiment with line width. Create intensely colored lines by pressing hard with the side of the oil pastel. Add thin lines by lightly applying the tip to the surface of the paper.
- Is possible to apply “layers” of color. Cover a thick layer of pastel with a layer of a second color. Scratch through the surface with a toothpick or craft stick to reveal color beneath.
- Blend colors using a finger tip or paper towel or Kleenex.
- Use the tip of the pastel to make a pattern of dots (stipple). Create the effects of shading by filling in areas with stipple dots.
Discussion: (while the students are working)
Say: The first messenger of the good news about Jesus’ birth was an angel.
- What did the angel tell the shepherds? (refer to the key Bible verse)
- How did the shepherds react? (frightened, terrified)
- Why do you suppose they were afraid? (accept all answers)
- What do you suppose it would have been like to have angels visit you?
- What did the shepherds do next? (they looked for & found Jesus)
- What did the shepherds do with this good news, did they tell others? (yes)
[You may need to read to them Luke 2:17 or page 265 in the Read With Me Bible.]
Say: The Bible tells us that the shepherds were full of joy with their good news. Listen… Read them Luke 2:20.
- How has the news of Jesus’ birth had an effect on you?
- Can you think of anyone else who acts as a messenger of the good news of Jesus’ birth –not just in this story? (prophets; writers of the Gospels; Jesus’ disciples; parents, friends, teachers; us!)
- Who is the “angel” who first told you about Jesus?
- To whom would you like to tell this story of good news?
Extra Activities (For those who finish early)
Have students re-tell the story using a set of the story cards. Combine two sets of cards, mix them up and play a game of Concentration.
Say: On the very first Christmas God gave us Jesus; Jesus is God’s gift to us.
Ask: Why do you suppose God would give us such a gift? (accept all answers)
Say: God loves each one of us and wants to have a close relationship with each one of us. In order to help us have this relationship, God sent Jesus.
[Refer to the easel.]
Ask: Who heard the words from our key Bible verse: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”(shepherds)
Say: Ordinary shepherds doing their work of taking care of sheep heard those words.
Ask: Can we as ordinary people, hear those words this Christmas - “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Say: Let’s say a closing prayer. “Lord, help us to remember why we are celebrating Christmas. We are celebrating Christ being here on earth! You sent Jesus because you love us. Help us remember that love as we go about our week. Amen.”
- Crane, Amy. “Christmas through the Eyes of the Shepherds.” 2001.
- Read With Me Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993.
- Picture cards were created from Jesus is Born Story found at : https://jesusandkidz.com/birth-of-jesus.html
Why are we sending kids out to look at our timeline? Well, we are mighty proud of our time line! It is a work of art! For pictures view the artist's web site.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First UMC
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all
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