Jesus' Birth through the Eyes of the Shepherds, Angelic Host, and the Stable
Summary of Lesson Activity:
View the DVD, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Discuss who are messengers of the good news. [Note: 4th – 6th graders visited this workshop.]
Children will learn about the birth of Jesus from the point of view of the shepherds.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- White board and appropriate marker
- Snack items: goldfish crackers, paper cups, napkins, water pitcher
- A copy of the Arch Book: The Baby Born in a Stable
- DVD: A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965. Total viewing time: 10 ½ minutes.
Advanced Preparation Requirements:
- Write page numbers in the Arch book, starting with the title page as page 1.
- In the kitchen, fill a pitcher with ice and water.
- Prepare snack by pouring Goldfish crackers into cups. (Probably 1/2 full is good.)
- Start the DVD, choosing “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Then choose “Play.” PAUSE when the snowy scene/music starts. Leave the DVD at this setting.
- Make sure you know how to use the TV/DVD, especially how to move by chapters and scanning forward and backward within a chapter.
- Write the key Bible verse on the whiteboard.
Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the video workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]
Say: Let’s begin 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 Lord, thank you for making sure that we all know the good news of your son Jesus. Thank you for the angels’ message to all people who would listen. As we learn more about Jesus, help us to have open minds, hearts, and ears. May we never be afraid to share the good news with others. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.”
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
Say: I would like to show you the very beginning of our video.
VIEW scene of about 1 minute, 45 seconds.
PAUSE after Linus says, “ You’re the Charlie Browniest.”
[The PAUSE button is one of the most powerful tools in your workshop. Don’t be afraid to use it!]
Ask: How many of you have seen this video before?
SCAN FORWARD to where Lucy is sitting at her “Psychiatric Help” booth and she turns the sign over that says that the “Doctor is Real In” (at 4:46).
VIEW scene of about 1 minute 35 seconds.
PAUSE after Lucy says, “You need involvement; you need to get involved in some real Christmas project.”
Ask: Why do you think Charlie Brown is depressed about Christmas?
Say: It appears that Charlie Brown is searching for the true meaning of Christmas; beyond trees and presents.
Ask: What do you suppose people mean when they talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas? (accept all answers)
Say: Let’s turn to our Bible.
Ask: Where would we find a story about the birth of Jesus? (in the NT)
In which Gospel? (Matthew and Luke tell about the story of Jesus’ birth)
Say: This Rotation we are focusing on the story of Jesus’ birth from the point of view of the shepherds and the angels. The shepherds and angels story is only found in the Gospel of Luke.
Ask: By the way, what does the word Gospel mean? (good news)
What good news does the Gospel tell us? (about the birth of Jesus – that he was sent to us to be the Messiah, or Savior, of all people)
Do you suppose that this good news is the true meaning of Christmas that Charlie Brown is looking for in our video?
Find Luke, chapter 2, verse 1. [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.]
Say: Let’s see how much of the story of Jesus’ birth we know.
Help the children quickly recount the story using their Bibles for reference. Show them the pictures in the Arch book, The Baby Born in a Stable, asking them what happens next. Tell them that this book tells the story according to Luke.
Show pages: 2-3, 6-7, and 8 (pointing out the stable in back on page 8).
Say: These are the Bibles that you have been given when you were in 3rd grade. One of the features of these Bibles, are the notes that appear in them. There’s a note about the stable; let’s take a look at it.
Have a student read the “Life in Bible Times” about the stable.
Say: That’s an interesting side note.
Continue asking what happened next in the story by showing pages 12-13, and 14-15 of the Arch Book, The Baby Born in a Stable.
Ask: When the angel appeared to the shepherds, what did the angel say about Jesus?
[If necessary refer to Luke 2:11 – a Savior, Christ the Lord.]
Ask: 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: In Bible times shepherds were people who were looked down on. Since they lived like they were camping, they weren’t always clean; they probably smelled like sheep.
Ask: Why did God choose shepherds as the first to hear about the good news of Jesus’ birth?
Why do you suppose God 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 lowly people. God chose to tell the shepherds first, as a sign that God’s gift of his son Jesus was for everyone – those who are young and old, rich and poor, educated and not.
Have everyone find Luke, chapter 2, verse 11.
Ask a student to read verses 11 and 12. Point out that this is the key verse for this lesson. [Refer to the white board.]
Have everyone repeat the key Bible verse together.
Say: In this video Charlie Brown is looking for the true meaning of Christmas – the key verse is very important in his search! He is going to be directing a play based on the story of Luke that we just told. As we watch some more of the video, listen for the spot when one of the characters says this Bible verse.
Show more of the Video:
Have the Shepherd distribute the snack.
VIEW scene of about 1 minute, 30 seconds.
PAUSE when Charlie Brown walks away from Snoopy’s doghouse.
Ask: How are Lucy and Snoopy looking at Christmas? (commercialized, the glitz)
View scene of about 1 minute.
PAUSE after Sally says, “All I want is my fair share!”
Ask: Why is Charlie Brown so upset with Sally’s letter to Santa? (she seems to only want money and gifts for Christmas)
What does Christmas seem to mean to Sally? (all the presents that Santa will bring)
Have you heard the key Bible verse yet? (no)
Use the controls (MENU, SCENE SELECTION) to advance to the chapter entitled “The Perfect Tree.” Then SCAN BACKWARD to the scene where Charlie Brown has his head resting on the director’s chair (at 15:30).
View scene of about 2 minutes.
PAUSE after Charlie Brown picks up the small tree.
Say: If you recall, Charlie Brown is frustrated with the other children because they don’t seem to want to focus on their play. He thinks it will help to have a Christmas tree.
Ask: What do you think of the tree that he picks out?
Say: That tree sort of relates to our story…it is lowly-looking just like our shepherds were considered lowly; yet it is the tree that gets picked. Let’s return to our Bible story.
Ask: What happened after the one angel told the shepherds about the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people?” (a multitude of angels appeared)
[If necessary, show pages 16 and 17 of the Arch Book, The Baby Born in a Stable or Luke 2:13]
Say: Imagine the shepherds amazement when all of a sudden, the skies lit up and there was a great company of the heavenly hosts – a fancy way of saying a large bunch of angels – singing and praising God.
Ask: How do you think the shepherds felt? (scared and awestruck at the same time)
How would you have felt if you had been there?
What did the shepherds do next? (went to find Jesus)
[If necessary show pgs 18-19 and 20-21 from The Baby Born in a Stable or refer to Luke 2:15-16.]
SCAN FORWARD to Charlie Brown bringing the tree into the auditorium.
View scene of about 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
PAUSE after Charlie Brown picks up the tree and walks out.
Ask: Did everyone catch when Linus read our key Bible verse?
[If kids did not hear it, SCAN BACKWARDS and RE-PLAY that part. Showing parts of videos over again is a good way to reinforce a lesson point.]
Say: Good news of great joy for all the people… Back in the days of Jesus they didn’t have TV’s or computers or radios or even newspapers.
Ask: How do you suppose other people found out about Jesus’ birth? (by people telling other people)
Read pages 24 and 25 of the Arch Book, The Baby Born in a Stable.
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.
- Who told Charlie Brown the good news? (Linus)
- Who was the “angel” who first told you about Jesus?
- Who are the messengers today of God’s good news? [Possible answers: friends or relatives or teachers, books, sermons, videos, etc.]
- Do you suppose that you can be a messenger of God’s good news?
- How do you suppose this could happen?
[Possible answers: by talking to people about Jesus, by acting as Jesus taught us – loving our neighbor. If possible, share an experience from your life of a time when you were a messenger.]
Say: This week, be watchful as the shepherds were, who viewed in amazement as the angels sang around them. Be on the look out for opportunities you have to act as a messenger of God’s good news.
If you have extra time:
Using the key verse written on the white board, have everyone read the key verse. Then ask a student to erase one word. Then have everyone read the verse filling in the missing word. Have students take turns erasing words, each time reading the verse aloud as a group. You may consider that each time you read the verse you say it in a different way – whispering, while standing on one foot, slowly, quickly, etc.
You also could watch the remainder of the video – there are 3 minutes and 30 seconds left of playing time.
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert from: First UMC
Ann Arbor, MI
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Hulbert,Carol. "Shepherds And Angels: Messengers of the Covenant – Video Workshop." Dec. 2007. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.