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Cooking Lessons, Ideas, Activities, and Resources for Teaching "Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable" in Sunday School.

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Manger, Luke 2:8-20, Heavenly Host, Shepherds, Keeping Watch by Night, Glory to God in the Highest. Birth of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Nativity, Inn, etc.
Bible lessons for "Jesus' Birth Through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable" -with Cooking, Food, Bible Foods, Recipes, Baking, Preparation, etc.

The following lesson was creating using an idea posted by member Jan Napa

Thought I’d share an idea my 13-year old son and I had that I'll be developing into a cooking lesson in December. In reading through the Christmas story in Luke 2, we came up with this idea to go with our theme of “Messengers of the Good News” …


Cooking Workshop

Shepherds and Angels:  messengers of the Covenant

Summary of Lesson Activities:

Children will read the story in Luke 2 and match key persons, things, or concepts to an edible ingredient which will be individually added to create sweet treat to eat together while discussing how the message of the birth of Jesus was spread to others and how they may also spread the message.

Scripture Reference:

Luke 2:1 and Luke 2:8-12

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson.
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson set.
  • Gather the materials.

Materials List:

  • Easel, chalkboard, or whiteboard
  • Bible
  • One or more pictures of the key persons, things, concepts on display
  • A mixing bowl and spoon or spatula for each student
  • Tablecloth or covering if unable to work at a kitchen counter
  • Small individually wrapped candy canes (to be crushed)
  • Whipped cream or Cool Whip for dairy allergies
  • Star sprinkles or white dot sprinkles
  • Angle food cake crumbled or cut up into bite-sized pieces
  • Yellow sprinkles
  • Gummy Lifesaver candy
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Paper plate for each student

Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • Cover table with cloth
  • Have ingredients ready to use:  placed in bowls with scoops or spoons and cover with some light dishtowels.

Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop.  Introduce yourself and any other leaders.

[Note:  The Shepherd will be taking care of attendance while you are starting your lesson.}

SAY:  Today we will hear the story of the angels and the shepherds and how they were messengers of the Good News of the birth of Jesus.  Let's begin with a prayer.

Ask for any Joys or Concerns that the students or other leaders would like to share.  Ask if anyone would like to lead the class in prayer.  Be prepared to lead the prayer yourself, including any Joys or Concerns shared and end with the Lord's Prayer.  A suggestion:  "Loving God, you did something so amazing that the news needed to be spread far and wide.  Thank you for sending  Jesus to lead us and teach us how to follow you and make a way for us to come close to you.  Thank you for the shepherds and angels who were some of the very first messengers.  (End with the Lord's Prayer" Amen."

Dig - Main Content and Reflection


  • Who is someone that might deliver good news?
  • What are ways that they might deliver the good news?
  • Have you ever received good news in the middle of the night?
  • Have you ever received good news and then shared it with someone else?

Say:  The good news that we will be learning about today is about the birth of Jesus and how this good news was delivered and shared.

Ask:  What are some of the pictures that you see you surrounding us today?

Ask:  Do you see anything on our table today that reminds you of the pictures?

Say:  Today we are going to read the part of Jesus' birth story when the good news begins to be shared.  The books of the Bible where the story is told are called the Gospels.

Ask:  Does anyone know the meaning of the word Gospel?  (It means good news!)  Listen to our story and gaze at our pictures as you listen.

Read Luke 2:8-12

Ask:  What were some things that you both saw in the pictures and heard in the story?

Say:  Next we are going to wash our hands and then listen to the story again.  As you listen to the story, look at the delicious supplies on our table.  When you hear something in the story that reminds you of one of our supplies, say "pause!"  We will each have a bowl and place that food in our own bowls.

Give the kids each an empty bowl and uncover the bowls of supplies.

Foods will be …

  • Shepherds … candy cane (Keeping the candy canes in their wrappings the students will crush them and then unwrap and then put in their bowl.)
  • Flocks … whipped cream
  • Night … star sprinkles or white dot sprinkles
  • Angel of the Lord … Angel food cake bites
  • Glory … yellow sprinkles
  • Jesus … gummy “life saver” candy?
  • Heavenly host … mini marshmallows
  • Spread the word … stir up the ingredients and then spread it out

Discussion:  (while students are eating)

Once the story is read and the treat is mixed, distribute spoons to the students.

Say:  Now we may enjoy our treat as we think about spreading the good news.

Ask:  Who were the messengers who spread the good news in the story?

Ask:  How might you spread the good news...share about the love of Jesus to kids your age?

Ask:  Why might someone consider the gospel sweet?

Extra Activity (if there is more time left)

May follow up with the “story of the candy cane” (here is a blog post with one version) and have them make/decorate cards with the story and attach canes to give to those they want to share the message with.

A volunteer representative of fleshed out this idea into a lesson plan format.

Last edited by Catherine Curtis
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Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable

Cooking Workshop

Candy cane cookies
Summary of Lesson Activities:

Students will bake Candy Cane Cookies to give away with a printed message, as a method of having them become messengers of the good news.

Scripture Reference:

Luke 2:1-20

Key/Memory Verse: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’” Luke 2:10 (NIV)

Lesson Objectives:

After completing this Rotation, participants shoule be able to:

  • Name that the story is found in the New Testament. Identify the four Gospels and the meaning of the word “Gospel” as "good news."
  • For 3rd grade and up: Locate the story in Luke.
  • Retell Luke’s version of the birth of Jesus, with attention to the involvement of shepherds and angels.
  • Recognize what the shepherds did with this good news that they received. Investigate their own role as a recipient and a messenger of the good news.

Leader Preparation:

  • Read the scripture for this lesson
  • Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
  • Make cookie dough (see end of lesson for recipe)
  • Gather the following materials...
    • Bibles (for 3rd grade & up)
    • Story Bible for younger students: The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories
    • Extra flour
    • Cookie dough in two colors (red and white); made ahead of time and in the refrigerator
    • Aprons
    • Kitchen timer
    • Sandwich-sized baggies or Zipper baggies
    • Ribbon and Scissors, or Tape
    • Copies of “Merry Christmas” note (see end of lesson)
    • Candy canes – shaped like J’s (one per student)
    • Items in kitchen: Cookie sheets, parchment paper, spatulas, clean-up supplies

  • On the day of class:
    • Clean work surfaces.
    • Write the key Bible verse with the scripture reference on the easel.
    • Distribute Bibles around where students will be hearing the story.
    • Dust an appropriate number of work areas (one per student) on the work surface with flour.
    • Cover a cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
    • Divide up the cookie dough so that each work area has a clump of red and a clump of white. For younger students make 1-inch balls of dough to speed the cookie making process. (Two balls, one of each color = one cookie)
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lesson Plan: Opening

Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.etc.

Ask: How many of you have had something exciting and wonderful happen to you? Maybe you got a terrific grade on a test or you made a team you really wanted to make. (allow a few responses)

Say: I know when I have something exciting or wonderful happen to me I can’t wait to tell someone!! Maybe you can’t wait to tell your parents or your best friend. But somehow when good news happens, the first thing we want to do is... SHARE! Today, we are going to be baking cookies to share with someone special today, as a way of sharing good news.

Ask: What good news do you suppose we would want to share about the Bible, especially at this time of the year?
Say: That is right! The news of Jesus' birth is good news! Today we will talk about some particular people who first heard the good news that Jesus had been born.
Ask: Does anyone know who those people were? (the Shepherds)
Say: Today we are going to be baking candy cane cookies—cookies shaped like candy canes!
Do: Show a candy cane.
 Who can tell me why we would make candy cane cookies when we are talking about shepherds and Jesus’ birth? (allow any replies)
Say: It is because of the shape of a candy cane. In one direction it’s a shepherd’s crook—a tool used by shepherds to watch over their sheep—and turned upside down, it’s a J for Jesus! Let's prepare to bake cookies by first washing our hands.

Dig: Main Content and Reflection

Do: Have everyone move into the kitchen, put on aprons, wash their hands, and gather around the work surface.

Say: We want to make these cookies with care, because we will be giving them away. We will be sharing our cookies.

Do: Demonstrate how to make the cookies. Working in the floured area, roll the dough into 1-inch balls (if this step has not already been done). Next, make ‘snakes’ or ropes out of each ball of dough. Be sure to make them the same length (6 inches) and same width. Then, working flat on the tabletop, twist the two colors of ropes together, making them into a candy cane shape. [Don’t hold the ropes up in the air as they will stretch out too much.]

Do: Have the students make their candy canes, helping those if needed. Put the cookies on the parchment-covered baking tray.

Do: Ask the class Shepherd to place the cookies in the oven and take them out when done. They bake for 12-15 minutes. Instruct the Shepherd to allow the cookies to cool a few minutes then divide the cookies onto serving trays and bring them to the class. Meanwhile, take the class to the story-telling area.

Prayer Time (if time allows)
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. A suggestion: “Jesus, help us to listen carefully for your good news. Help us learn how we can spread the good news of your birth with others. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”

Dig into the Bible Story:

  • If we want to read something about Jesus’ life, where would we find it – in the Old Testament, or the New Testament of the Bible? (New Testament)
  • What are the first four books of the New Testament? (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
  • What is the name we have for the first four books of the New Testament? (the Gospels)

The word Gospel means “good news.” News about the birth of God among us was very good news in those days and today. The Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Our story is in Luke; Luke is the 3rd Gospel.

For 1st and 2nd graders:
Say:  This Bible Storybook has the story with a picture of the shepherds visiting Mary and Joseph.
Do: Show them the picture on page 280 of The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories. Read the story on p. 280-281.

For 3rd grade and up:
Do: Have everyone find Luke 2:1 in the Bible. [Make sure everyone remembers the quick way to find the New Testament – dividing the Bible in half gets them near Psalms. Dividing the back half in half again gets them near the New Testament.]
Read the story together, Luke 2:8-12. In later weeks of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.

For all students:

  • What do you suppose it was like to be a shepherd?
  • Has anyone ever been camping?
  • Is it easy to stay clean when you are camping? (no)

Say:  Shepherds were people who probably were avoided. Since they lived like they were camping, they weren’t clean and they probably smelled like sheep.

Ask: Why do you suppose God first told shepherds and not the “important” people in town?

Say: I wonder if God choose shepherds to be the first to hear the good news because they were considered "smelly" people. God chose to tell the shepherds first, as a sign that God’s gift of his son Jesus was for everyone.

Ask: What does it mean that God’s gift is for everyone? (accept all replies)
Does that mean that Jesus came for me?
Does that mean that Jesus came for you?

Say: It is really good news that Jesus was born! Imagine the Shepherds amazement when all of the sudden the skies lit up and there were the heavenly hosts—a fancy way of saying a large bunch—of angels praising God.


  • How do you think the shepherds felt? (scared and awestruck at the same time)
  • How would you have felt if you had been there?

Say:  I am guessing Shepherd Joe did not text his friend about Jesus’ birth! Back in the days of Jesus they did not have iPhones, radio, tv, computers, or even a newspaper!

Ask:  How do you suppose other people found out about Jesus’ birth? (by people telling other people)

Say: It is certain that the shepherds shared their experience with others over the years. It is doubtful that the story would have made it into the Bible if it had never been repeated.

Ask:  Who delivers the good news of Jesus today? (take responses)
Can we share the good news of Jesus’ birth?

Say: So now, let’s repeat the good news about Jesus’ birth by sharing cookies!!

Do: Have everyone wash his/her hands. Load 2 or 3 cookies into each bag. Use the ribbon and scissors to tie the bag closed. (Or use zipper baggies.) Attach the label by tying it on with the ribbon. (Or use tape.)

Do: Students may take one bag of cookies home but must give any other bags away.


  • To whom are you going to give your cookies? Let’s share with people who aren’t just our family.
  • What will you say to them when you give them a cookie bag?
  • What message about the good news of Jesus' birth can you share with the person who receives the cookies?


Say: I challenge you to be messengers, telling about Jesus just like the angels on that first Christmas. And just like the shepherds did after they had visited baby Jesus.

Ask:  Do you think anyone will be ‘awestruck’ or ‘scared’ at receiving the Good News from us?

Close with a prayer and have the children assist in the cleanup.

If you have extra time

Discuss other ways we can be messengers of the good news. Practice giving the cookies away (what will the students say).
Write messages of Good News on slips of paper to attach to the cookies.


Attachment: Candy Cane Cookie Recipe

The dough for our lesson will be made ahead of time, as it is easier to work with if chilled.

2 cups white sugar
1 cup shortening (NOT butter or margarine)
2 eggs (use egg substitute for egg allergies)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or use soy milk for milk allergies)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour
red food coloring

Take half the dough and add a lot of red food coloring - mix. Wrap well and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (Over night is ok)

To form into candy canes: From each color of dough, make 1” balls of dough. Use your hands to roll out the balls into snake shapes that are 6” long. Do this rolling on the tabletop; not in the air or the snakes will stretch out too long! Place on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Attachment – Make copies of the following on red or green paper

Merry Christmas to You!

With these cookies, we spread the good news of Jesus’ birth, like the shepherds did so long ago. (Does the cookie look like a shepherd’s crook?)
Remember Jesus when you eat them... do you see the “J”?

A lesson written by Carol Hulbert, Carol Teener and Nicole Merritt from First UMC, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Copyright 2007 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material


Images (1)
  • Candy cane cookies
Last edited by Catherine Curtis

St. John Lutheran Church

Cooking Station

Station Summary

An angel will tell the Bible story from his/her point of view.  The children will then put together snack bags where each ingredient stands for a different part of the story.

See lesson at this link.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

Hay- small pieces of uncooked spaghetti?

Shredded wheat squares

  Cereal Bar Hay Bales

                                                     cereal bar hay bales 

5 tbsp. butter
packets shredded wheat
15 oz. marshmallows
6 c. puffed rice cereal
licorice laces
  1. Butter an 8-inch square pan. Crush shredded wheat in a bowl to make fine splinters.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and stir to melt completely. Stir in rice cereal. Use a rubber spatula to toss mixture and coat cereal completely.
  3. Turn mixture out into the prepared pan; use the spatula to flatten the mixture into the pan.
  4. Remove square of cereal treats from pan to cutting board. Cut in half horizontally, and then make 2 evenly spaced vertical cuts to form 6 rectangles.
  5. While the bars are still warm, pat the sides with crushed shredded wheat. Wrap each bale with licorice laces.
Last edited by Luanne Payne

Angel Peace Wings

A traditional Polish friend dough called "Faworki," also known as "Chrusty"


Popular around holidays. Neil MacQueen noted that, "a lady in a former church of mine used to give them away in containers with a Xmas card she'd put in the bottom of the tupperware which you reached and read after you ate all of them and tapped the powdered sugar off of the card."


Here's a Youtube video showing how to make them.

Easy to make, quick to fry. Frying can be done in church kitchen (use thermostatically controlled fryer to be safe). Can make lots and lots. Travels well. Something that could be shared, with a message after you're done "After the sweetness of the holiday has faded..."  Ways to continue speaking the good news, giving the good news, being the good news to someone. etc.

Here's a GRAPHIC that can be used as part of a Printable Message to go with Faworki.

What is this peace that the angels spoke of?
How do you "earn your angel wings" as a messenger of God's peace?  

TeachPeaceAngels [1)


Images (2)
  • TeachPeaceAngels (1)
  • faworki
Last edited by Luanne Payne

Group Ministry has a snack mix that can be used to tell not only the story of Jesus' birth but also of our salvation through his death on the cross. Christmas Snack for Children’s Ministry: First Christmas Morning Mix

"In this Christmas snack mix, every piece tells a story—the greatest story ever told! Try this snack with kids at your church, or share it with families to try at home!"

Suggested ingredients and meaning (see the linked article for a full script describing each ingredient):

  • pretzel stick = shepherd's staff
  • mini marshmallows = sheep
  • cheerio = angel's halo
  • animal cracker = Jesus was born in a barnyard
  • M&M = Mama Mary
  • pretzel stick = break it in half and hold the pieces together like a cross; remind the children that Jesus did not stay a baby but grew up to die for our sins
  • Ritz cracker = the round stone that closed the tomb where Jesus' body was placed, but he did not stay there--he rose from the dead on the third day
  • chocolate chips = reminder of the sweetness of our salvation in Jesus who is God born in a stable, who lived a sinless life, and who died for our sins so we can have eternal life

Children could make the snack mix and then learn the story so they can share the snack mix and its meaning with family and friends.

If you want to make this a bit fancier project (perhaps for an Advent Event or evangelistic outreach), consider putting the mix in jars with labels decorated by the children that explain the meaning, and they can give the jars as Christmas gifts or distribute them to church members.



Images (1)
  • jarsForSnackMix

Jesus' Birth According to Luke 2:8-20

A "Shepherd's Pie" Cooking Workshop

Making, Baking, Tasting and Sharing the Story of Jesus' Birth

Summary of Lesson Activities:

In this lesson, we turn the ingredients into symbols for the story and meaning of Jesus' Birth as described in Luke 2:8-20.

You will be talking about the "reason" for Jesus coming into our world as you lead the students through a recipe, assembling and baking a Shepherd's Pie. You'll be connecting your points to ingredients in the recipe in your "Shepherd's Pie Patter."  The pie and its ingredients help your students learn the message, and give them a pie they can take home and explain to their family as they share it together.

"Shepherd's Pie" in America is basically "Hamburger Pie" with mashed potato topping. Kids can add/subtract ingredients to taste. Ideally they'll make one a small one to take home, and a larger size version for the class to eat together.

Leader Preparation:

  • Brown the meat and boil the potatoes in advance. You can also use pre-cooked mashed potatos.


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef   (pre-brown to save time)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas   (have cooked for younger children. Keep peas separate as some kids won't like them, and the point is to get them to eat & remember, not gag.)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)   (have boiled but not mashed to save time)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Lesson Plan


Greet the children and introduce yourself and any helpers that you have. Explain what they'll be doing and learning about today and what you hope they will remember.

Let's Gets Started!

Because "cooking time" is an issue in all cooking workshops, you'll need to prepare a few things in advance, and do your study activity in the MIDDLE of the lesson while things cook.  I suggest browning the meat and boiling the potatoes in advance.

The idea is that each student can take home a shepherd's pie to share with their family. Depending on your schedule, you may have time to let them cool, or not so much. Think through those details ahead of time. You may also want to make extras for some special people in your congregation. Remember to send home a list of ingredients with your pie, with their 'meanings' described. (If time, have your students write this out at the end of the workshop to aid their memory.)

Suggestion: Make one LARGE pie for all to sample/eat before class is over. And have them also make individual small pies to go home.

My "patter" (story) while introducing the ingredients is certainly open to improvement and adjustments! I certainly said a lot more when I did this lesson with my students. "Meat" isn't a great metaphor for Jesus in the recipe, but as a main ingredient, what/who else could it be!  Age-adapt your language.

The point is not "which idea is best for butter" ...but rather, making your remarks and connections memorable, and perhaps even entertaining! to the kids so that they REMEMBER YOUR STORY and can RETELL IT.

This lesson outline assumes the kids somewhat know the story. If they don't, then use this lesson AFTER you have done a different lesson overviewing the Birth Story.

You are welcome to try any Shepherd's Pie recipe you want. Just keep in mind what the kids will eat, and how long it takes to bake. (FTR: I will be keeping peas out of my pie!)

Here's the basic recipe and cooking instructions.
Below that is my "Shepherd's Pie Patter" (story).

Shepherd's Advent Pie

The following ingredients list will serve FOUR in a 9 x 12 baking dish. It is recommended that you make ONE Batch per every 3 children so they have plenty to take home and share.  The nice thing about this recipe is you can freeze extra.

OPTION:  You could bake it all in a 9 x 12 and send it home split-up in Tupperware. OR preferably, you could have the students assemble the ingredients into their own foil baking dish. Cover with foil to go home. They could bake at church or home. If you send home to bake, bake one large pie for the class to taste. Make sure the foil dish is large enough for more than a single serving so kids can share with family.

You can also make or purchase "single serving" size foil tins to form the pie and ingredients into and seal it.

A teacher wrote me to say they made these in individual "baking crocks." The point is to adjust the recipe and dish size and materials to suit your needs.

OPTION:   Sautéing the onions and veggies in front of the children (and allowing older ones to help) is a good opportunity to talk about "transformation."


•1 1/2 lbs ground round beef   (pre-brown to save time)
•1 onion chopped
•1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas   (have cooked for younger children. Keep peas separate as some kids won't like them, and the point is to get them to eat & remember, not gag.)
•1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)   (have boiled but not mashed to save time)
•8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
•1/2 cup beef broth
•1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
•Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

(Makes 4 individual servings. Increase so children have plenty to go home and share.)

1. Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).  Suggestion: Have these cooked in advance to save time, but let the kids participate in the mashing.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.

3. Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.

4. Add pre-cooked ground beef and sauté for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

5. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.

6. Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top of the pie. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.

7. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 20 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

The Shepherd's Pie Patter

Here's the gist of the conversation I had with my students as we prepared the pie. Of course, your conversation and your student's input will vary. The point is to turn the ingredients and assembly process into teaching moments.

  • Who can tell me what the Shepherds are doing in the story of Jesus birth.
  • What were the Shepherds doing when the angels announced Jesus' birth to them?
  • What did the Shepherds do next?  (Went to see Jesus).
  • What did the Shepherds do after that? Throw a party? Go shopping?  (went to tell others).
  • After we're done celebrating Jesus birth, what are WE supposed to do? Party? Shop? Forget?  (No, like those shepherds, we have a job to do... to remind others of the importance of Jesus' coming into our world, and to prepare people to follow him.)
  • Today, we're going to be thinking about the story of Jesus' Birth while we make and bake a Shepherd's Pie. Who is the pie for?  It's for help us remember what our job tell others. It's our food for thought, and energy for our bodies so that we can continue to be good disciples of Jesus --telling others about him.

    Anybody know what's in Shepherd's Pie? Who likes hamburger? Mashed potatoes? onions and...?

As we mix all these ingredients, I'm going to tell you what they mean. Be listening, because just like the shepherds were asked to REPEAT what they had seen and heard, I'm going to ask you to REPEAT BACK TO ME what I tell you. Ready?

See these chopped onions? Taste one. Bitter?  God looked at the world and saw that it needed his help. So he started mixing in ingredients. Butter, veggies. Good things we needed to grow strong in love, patience, kindness. After cooking for a while, notice what's happening to the onions!  They are becoming clear and sweet. God is like that. He can change things. He can change you into something the world needs and finds tasty.

TIP: Don't give away all your ingredients. Save some aside so that you can point to them later and have students tell you what they meant in your story.

Distribute the sautéed veggies into everyone's dishes. AS you do, run down the list of good things God gives us: scripture, heroes like David, prayer, the good earth, families, etc. Let them add to your list.  Do you think that's all we people needed? No, we hungered for God to be made real to us. We hunger to be led and fed by God.  All these other things (in our bowl) are good, but God wanted us to become stronger. God want us to grow up and do great things in his name. So he added something more. Actually, he added a PERSON. Know who I'm talking about?

That's right, Jesus. (Distribute the meat into each dish.) He sent Jesus to tell us that our sins were forgiven, and that God was ready to turn us into his super disciples!  Strong meaty food indeed!  Build us up good!  .... But why did he come as a weak baby?  (God wanted to show us that he was about love, not fear. Can you think of anything less scary than a baby? God wanted to show us that he understood us and cared about us.)

Next, God added the church to help us (broth). His church retells the story over and over just like the shepherds did (pour, pour again). And then God gave us more scripture --do you know what part of the Bible I'm talking about? Yep, the New Testament, the story is not just for us to read, it's for us to share!   (worchestershire, taste a bit, it's concentrated but make the whole dish flavorful).

Then he gave us Sunday School to learn his story really well, and add some spice and flavor to being his disciples (salt and pepper, taste a little bit of it before mixing it in). Mix it all up good!  It all tastes better when you have ALL the ingredients together. (Sunday School without Jesus or scripture, not good!   Veggies without Jesus or salt, bland!)

Finally, after his birth into our world, his death, and his resurrection, God RETURNED/STAYED with us as the Holy Spirit, to help us accept his love, feel his presence, and have the strength to follow him and tell others the Good News. (Distribute the boiled potatoes on small plates and have the kids mash them with a fork. Add a little splash of milk to smooth it out.)   God's Holy Spirit is always around us. It protects and shields, and hold us together, just like these taters.
Spread yours on top of your shepherd's pie. Fluff it up with some peaks!

Do you think we're done?
Nope, we have to cook it all together!   You can say you have all these things: the Bible, knowing the Christmas story, going to Sunday School, believing in the Holy Spirit, but you got to put them altogether and give them time to bake. Yes!

You need time to bake too !   All these ingredients are being poured into you so that you will become a tasty blessing to the world.  Was Jesus born an adult? No. Even Jesus had to grow. What if he had quit believing in God when he was 10?  What if you QUIT NOW?  What if you stop praying to God? What if the shepherds decided NOT to be out standing in their field that night?  What if they decided "Ho Hum, I'm not interested in a little baby."  ??   You need time.  Is the church like an oven?  Isn't that an interesting idea!  Not a bad heat, though!

Baking Time:

While your pies are baking, distribute the recipe and pass out the ingredients. See if the kids can RECREATE your Shepherd's Pie Patter.  This will be a good time to ADD TO your comments.

Read the story of the shepherds and angels, Luke 2: 8-20.
Ask: What would have been your reaction to the angels appearing?
Ask: What do you think Mary and Joseph thought of the shepherds and their story?
Ask: "What was the Good News they went out to share after meeting the baby?"

Eating Time:
Take the pies out of the oven, and serve one up so that it begins to cool. Have some ketchup ready for those who need it!  Finish by preparing the other dishes to go home.

Include a CARD with a summary of your ingredients, and two or three sentences from your "patter" about the meaning of the pie.


Have the children assist with the cleanup and then close with a prayer. You may also have them write a prayer on the CARD that's going home with their shepherd's pie for use by their family.

A lesson written by Neil MacQueen for his Sunday School class in Venice Florida


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  • Luke 2 Shepherd's Pie Sunday School Lesson
Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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