Week 3 objectives: to think about the shepherds being told not to be afraid and to discover why the angel’s message was such good news.
Game - 7 mins
Aims: to remind the children that an angel suddenly appeared in front of the shepherds.
You will need: thick marker pens, large sheets of paper - preferably A1 size or from a roll of lining paper, blindfolds, sticky tape or sticky tac.
Stick a large piece of paper to a wall. Ask for a volunteer, explaining that they will need to wear a blindfold for this challenge. Encourage the volunteer to stand facing the paper. Ask them to cover their eyes with the blindfold. Give the volunteer a marker pen and ask them to draw an angel on the paper in front of them. When they have finished drawing ask them to remove the blindfold so that they can see their angel. The children will find this hilarious as most of the drawings will look nothing like an angel. If children would rather not participate allow them to watch this activity.
Talk about - 6 mins
You will need: a whiteboard or large sheet of paper, marker pens, a Bible, a ‘message sign’ and ‘Messiah sign’ (see Printables), a piece of A4 card and a glue stick.
Before the session stick the ‘message sign’ to one side of the piece of card and the ‘Messiah sign’ to the other.
Write the verse on a sheet of paper or whiteboard. Circle the word ‘Luke’ and remind the children that this verse was written by a man called Luke. Ask one of the older children to quickly find the book of Luke in a Bible.
Explain that Luke was writing about a group of shepherds watching their sheep in a field. Suddenly an angel appeared in front of them. Luke tells us what the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy.” Point to the verse as you read it aloud.
Circle the phrase ‘don't be afraid’. Ask the children why the shepherds might have felt frightened. Describe how quiet it would have been on the hills. Encourage the children to imagine the types of noises the shepherds may have heard. Explain that it would have been dark too; they may have had a small fire and perhaps an oil lamp. Try and emphasise how startling it would have been for the shepherds to suddenly be surrounded by bright light and to then to see a mighty angel in front of them. Remind the children of the game they have just played, explain that just as they could suddenly see clearly when they took off their blindfolds, when the angel appeared to the shepherds the countryside lit up around them. The angel knew that if the shepherds were scared they wouldn't be able to listen, so he told them not to be afraid. The angel wanted them to understand that there was nothing to worry about; he had good news to give them.
Circle the word ‘message’. Ask the children if they can remember what the angel’s message was. Respond positively to the children’s answers. Show the children the ‘message sign’. Explain that the angel told the shepherds that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. Show the children the ‘Messiah sign’. Remind the children that the Messiah was the special person God had promised to send to his people. Later the shepherds would find the baby lying in a manger just as the angel had described. They would discover the baby was called Jesus and they would pass on the message to others that this tiny baby was the Messiah.
Circle the phrase ‘good news’. Ask the children why this message was such ‘good news’.
Explain that, at the time of Jesus’ birth, hearing that the Messiah had arrived would have been wonderful news for God’s people. Although they didn’t know what he would be like, they understood that he would be sent from God and would do God's work on earth. However as Jesus grew up, people began to see more and more why his birth really was such great, great news. Encourage the children to think about the wonderful things Jesus did when he lived with people. Explain that the Bible teaches that Jesus did many, many great things: Jesus showed people God’s love and taught them how to live; he healed the sick, fed the hungry and comforted the poor. However the Bible tells us that the greatest thing Jesus did was make a way for people to become close friends with God.
If you have time talk very briefly about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Explain that when Jesus was around thirty years old some soldiers put him on a big, wooden cross. The cross was hard and rough, it was used as a way to punish people, but Jesus did not deserve to be punished. Jesus was put on the cross in the morning and in the afternoon he died. It was a very sad time for Jesus’ friends and family however God had a plan. On the third day he raised his Son, Jesus back to life. Now, because Jesus lived, died and rose again, everybody, everywhere can say ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness and become close friends with him.
Christians believe Jesus’ birth was good news because of who he is and what he came to do. They believe his birth was good news for people thousands of years ago, and is still good news for people today.
Song - 2 mins
To the tune of ‘The big ship sailed through the alley-alley-o’.
The angel said ‘now don't be afraid’,
‘Don't be afraid’, x 2
The angel said ‘now don't be afraid,
I have some good news for you.’
It’s a message that will fill everyone with joy,
Everyone with joy, x 2
It’s a message that will fill everyone with joy,
Fill everyone with joy.
You could do some simple actions: wag your finger as you sing ‘don't be afraid’. Hold your hands to receive a gift as you sing ‘good news for you’. Squat down then jump up as you sing ‘fill everyone with joy’.