Pass the Christmas parcels

Aim:

To explain clearly the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Bible base:

Matthew 1&2, Luke 1&2. The birth of Jesus.

 You will need:

The following items to wrap and number as shown:

  1. A ‘decree’ – wording as suggested by Luke 2:1-3
  2. A map showing Nazareth and Bethlehem (a simple drawing will do)
  3. A ‘No room’ sign
  4. Some straw
  5. A toy donkey
  6. A doll wrapped up in cloths as Jesus would have been
  7. An angel (a Christmas decoration or paper one)
  8. A toy sheep
  9. A star
  10. A box to represent one of the gifts given to Jesus
  11. A question mark
  12. Christmas paper
  13. A tape of suitable music and cassette player
  14. A rubbish bag for all the paper!

Preparation

Wrap each item from the list in Christmas paper and number them in the correct order for the story.

Some can be omitted to cut down on time, but the larger number means that everyone should at least handle a parcel.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Ask what games the children like playing at Christmas parties.  Make sure ‘Pass the Parcel’ is mentioned.
  2. Explain that today’s game will be played slightly differently: all the parcels will be passed around together and, when the music stops, you will call out the numbers of the parcels that you want to be opened.
  3. Spread out the parcels among the children and give clear instructions about which way they are to be passed.  When the music stops, call out two numbers at a time (otherwise it takes too long!) and have the children bring the parcels to the front to be opened.
  4. As each parcel is opened, tell the relevant part of the story.

Story

Begin with music.  Open parcels 1 and 2.

Long ago, when Augustus was Emperor, he decided to take a count of everyone who lived in the country of Judea (Show the decree)

Two people, Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth, where they lived to Bethlehem, where Joseph’s family came from many years before. (Show the map).

Music.  Open parcels 3 and 4.

When they got to Bethlehem, the town was so busy with travellers like themselves that all the places to stay were full (Show the sign), and Mary and Joseph had to stay in a stable, and sleep in the straw. (Show the straw).

Music. Open parcels 5 and 6.

During the night, Mary’s baby son was born.  He was called Jesus. There was nowhere for him to sleep except the manger, the feeding trough that the cows and donkeys used.  (Show the donkey).  Mary wrapped up Jesus in strips of cloth, and laid him in the straw.  (Show the baby).

Music and parcels 7 and 8.

Jesus, the baby born in the stable, was not just any baby: he was the Son of God.  Later that night angels (show the angel) went to tell the good news of Jesus’ birth to some shepherds (show the sheep).

Music and parcels 9 and 10.

A special star came in the sky too (Show the star), and some wise men who studied the sky saw the star, and followed it many, many miles until it took them to the place where Jesus was.  When they saw the baby Jesus they gave him special presents of gold, incense and myrrh.  (Show the gift).  These gifts were not what you might take to a newborn baby; but they were just right for someone so special, like Jesus.

Music and parcel 11.

Application

  1. When the question mark is opened, ask the children why they think God sent Jesus to live on earth.
  2. Explain that Jesus was God’s special present to us, because he loves us so much.

Prayer

Ask the children to join in by saying ‘Thank you, Father God’ after every line.

It’s Christmas time, and we’re excited: Thank you, Father God. There are lots of things that make us delighted: Thank you, Father God. For our families and our friends: Thank you, Father God. For your love, that never ends: Thank you, Father God. For excitement and fun: Thank you, Father God. And for Jesus, your Son: Thank you, Father God.

Song suggestion

Come and join the celebration, 323, Junior Praise

Get Ready – Advent

Aim:

To help the children to think about getting ready for Christmas, and what Christmas is about.

Bible base:

Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1 and Luke 1.  The birth of Jesus.

You will need:

A bag of objects which give clues to special events eg sunglasses and suntan cream for a holiday; some baby powder and a bib for a new baby; some make-up and a hat for a wedding; some decorations and an Advent calendar.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Play a guessing game with the objects in a bag, asking what the children think you might be getting ready for with each pair of things.
  2. Ask what they have seen happening as people get ready for Christmas – shopping, baking, putting up decorations etc.

Story

Christmas is the time when people celebrate Jesus being born as a baby.  Hundreds of years before Jesus was born at the first Christmas, God helped people to be ready for his coming.  He sent lots of different people as messengers to tell everyone to be ready, because one day God’s special person would come.

These are some of the words that one of them, Isaiah, said ‘A child is born to us!  A son is given to us!  And he will be our ruler.  He will be called “Wonderful Counsellor”, “Mighty God”, “Eternal Father”, “Prince of Peace”.’ (Isaiah 9:6, Good News Bible)

Finally God sent an angel to tell Mary to get ready, because this wonderful baby would be born to her.

Show again the baby things that you have, and explain how Mary would not have got these sort of things together to be ready, but she would have made some preparations.

God also sent a message to Joseph, to tell him to get ready for the coming of Jesus, this very special baby.

Application

  1. Ask why they think God went to so much trouble, telling people to get ready.
  2. Explain that Jesus was born so we could know God better and understand how much he loves us.
  3. Christians call this time of year Advent, a time to be ready for Jesus’ coming.  Suggest that as the children get ready for Christmas they remember the coming of Jesus too. If they have an Advent calendar at home they could remember Jesus as they open the door each day.

Prayer

Ask the children for ideas of what excites them about getting ready for Christmas, and use these as a short prayer to say ‘thank you’ to God for each of these, and for Jesus.

Song suggestion

Come and join the celebration, 323, Junior Praise

Sharing – Harvest

Aim:

To explain the children that God has given us good things which are to be shared.

Bible base:

1 Kings 17:7-24.  Elijah and the widow.

You will need:

  •  Sultanas
  •  Suitable props for the characters, eg a scarf for the woman, a stick for Elijah

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Ask for two volunteers who like sultanas and share them out unfairly between them and you – make sure you get most and that they have just one or two each.  Ask them to share theirs with others.  Are they keen to do so?  Why?  Comment on the unfairness of the distribution and even it out.
  2. It is easier to share something if you have lots, and much harder if you have just a small amount.  Ask the children which things are easy to share and which are hard.  Talk about how sharing means that everyone gets something.

Story

Tell the story of Elijah and the widow, using the different props.

Elijah was a man who knew God, talked to God and did what God told him to do.  One day God told Elijah to go to a town called Zarephath, and to stay with a lady and her son there.

When Elijah got to Zarephath he saw the woman coming towards him.  She was collecting sticks to burn on her fire.

‘Please give me a drink of water,’ said Elijah, ‘and some bread to eat.’

‘I have no bread,’ said the lady. ‘There is just enough flour in my bowl and oil in my jar to make one last meal for me and my son, and then we will die because we have no more food.’

There had been no rain there for a very long time and now there was very little food for everyone.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Elijah.  ‘Just make your meal, but first make a small loaf for me.  God says that until it rains again, there will always be enough flour in the bowl and oil in the jar.’

The lady did as Elijah said.  She shared her meal by making some bread for him and then some for herself and her son.  Every time she made the bread, there was always enough flour and always enough oil.  From the day until it rained again, they had just enough food to eat.

Application

Remind the children of how hard it is to share something when you have very little of it.  The lady had almost nothing left, but she shared it with Elijah, and God was pleased with her.

You might want to leave a small bag of sultanas for each class, to make the point more clearly!

Prayer

End with a prayer asking god to help us to share, even when it is hard to do so.

Song suggestion

• Someone’s brought a loaf of bread, 220, Junior Praise

Light and Dark – Hallowe’en

Bible base

Matthew 15:16–20; Luke 11:33–36; John 1:4,5

Aim

To help students reflect on what causes evil and Jesus’ reassurance that he is the light of the world.

Things you’ll need:

  • Appropriate pictures from newspapers etc to remind students of ‘evil’ events that are currently in the news (bombings, crimes which have hurt people, oppression) –these could be prepared for display on PowerPoint.
  • Flip chart and pens (optional)

Preparation

Search out and prepare for display pictures you plan to use.

Note: When you refer to Halloween, take care not to appear to trivialise it or associated topics, which may be frightening issues for some students (eg the occult and supernatural).

Presentation

1 Start by talking briefly about Halloween. Point out how, although most people don’t take Halloween seriously; there is real evil in the world which is very serious. Ask the students for some examples of ‘evil’ they’ve noticed recently in the news.

2 Show them some of the pictures you’ve selected as reminders of ‘evil’ that’s happened recently and talk about the kinds of ‘evil’ these represent.

3 Ask:

  • Why did these bad things happen?
  • Who was responsible?

4 Say that while we would probably never do some of the terrible things they’ve just looked at, all of us do sometimes do ‘evil’ things. Asking students for their ideas, make a list (on flip chart) of different ‘evil’ things they might do (eg bullying, telling lies, taking something which isn’t yours). Even though these aren’t big crimes, they are still small steps in the wrong direction and which often result in hurt for others.

Reflection

1 Dark

Comment that most of the evil and suffering in the world is caused by human beings. The Bible talks about the wrong things we do coming from within us. It’s our own fault! Christians believe that God created human beings with the ability to choose right from wrong: a lot of the time evil is caused by people who deliberately choose wrong.

2 Light

Christians believe that the power of evil has been overcome through the death of Jesus on the cross. If we do wrong things, God will forgive us when we say sorry to him, and will help us to do what’s right.

Response

1 Light a candle, placed so that people can see it. Then read out Jesus words, saying:

‘Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World.”’ John 9:5 (NIV)

2 Ask students to consider:

  • Have you contributed towards evil in any ways?
  • What good have you done recently?

3 Invite students, if they wish, to take a moment as everyone is quiet to ask God to forgive them for wrong things they’ve done and to find ways of bringing some ‘light’ into others’ lives today.

4 Conclude by reading John 1:4,5, explaining that these are some words from the Bible about Jesus.

Note: Check that the school’s Health and Safety rules will allow you to light a candle during assembly.

 

 

Get Ready – Advent

Bible base

Matthew 2:1–12

Aim

To encourage students to think about why we celebrate Christmas.

Things you’ll need

  • 2 boxes.
  • Sheets of Christmas wrapping paper, pre-cut if necessary, ready to wrap the boxes.
  • 2 rolls of sticky tape.
  • 8 envelopes.
  • 8 cards.
  • 2 address lists (4 addresses on each).
  • 8 mince pies.
  • 2 sets of words of a carol.
  • 4 Christmas chocolates as prizes.
  • 3 more boxes, one wrapped in gold and the two others in plain colours, labelled with large letters: ‘gold’, ‘frankincense’ and ‘myrrh’.

Preparation

• Before the assembly begins, set up a table with all the items necessary in place for the team game. As far as possible, make sure that the table is arranged so that the audience can see the teams’ efforts.

• Place the three gifts of the ‘Wise Men’ separately to avoid them getting spoilt in the team game. These could be put on view to act as a focus through the assembly.

Presentation

1 Start by talking about getting ready for Christmas and students’ preparations. Ask for eight volunteers to take part in team game.

Note: check for food allergies.

2 Have two teams of four people in each. Explain that both teams have to complete four activities to do with getting ready for Christmas. The activities are:

  • Wrap up a ‘gift’.
  • Write four cards and put each in its envelope which must be addressed.
  • Eat four mince pies.
  • Sing a carol.

Involve the audience by having one half supporting Team A and the others supporting Team B. Give prizes to the winning team and encourage applause for all the volunteers.

3 When everyone is quiet again, comment that this time of year coming up to Christmas is called Advent. It’s the time when Christians get ready for Christmas – not just wrapping presents and writing cards – but by thinking about the reason for Christmas.

If appropriate to your audience, ask them what they think are reasons for Christmas (eg presents, parties etc). Say that, really, it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

4 Talk about the story of the Wise Men. Ask the students if they can remember what gifts they brought to Jesus. Explain that each of their gifts tell us something about who Jesus is and what he had come to do.

5 Now, show the audience each of your ready-prepared, labelled gifts.

Gold

Say that gold was thought of as a gift for a king. Christians believe that Jesus is a King – God’s Son – and his special gift to us.

Frankincense

Explain that this was a substance with a strong smell which was used by priests, like incense. A priest was someone who talked to God on behalf of the people. Christians believe that Jesus, a bit like a priest, came to help us know God and show us what he is like.

Myrrh

Myrrh was a substance that was used to cover bodies before they were buried. Explain that Christians believe that this gift reminds us about Jesus’ death for us – so that we could be put right with God.

Reflection

Encourage the students, as they get ready for Christmas this year, to take some time to think about these questions:

  • Where is Jesus in your Christmas?
  • How could you and your family include him in the festivities which started because of his birth?

Response

In a time of quiet, encourage students to pray, or lead with a short prayer yourself, using this or similar outline:

  • Thanks for Christmas and fun: What do they especially enjoy about Christmas?
  • Thanks for Jesus: Ask them to think about the three gifts of the Wise Men and what those tell us about Jesus. Give thanks for his coming to earth for us.
  • Ask God’s help to remember Jesus this Christmas.

Note: Check first with school that it is OK for you to offer mince pies to students and that this isn’t a problem regarding possible food allergies.

 

 

Gifts – Christmas

Bible base

Matthew 2:11; John 3:16

Aim

To encourage students to remember that the reason for Christmas and presents is to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, God’s gift to the world.

Things you’ll need:

  • Party hat, large birthday badge (eg ’18 today’).
  • Five or six ‘presents’, eg small bags of sweets (optional, see ‘Note’).
  • A CD which the age group would enjoy for a party.
  • A bag of crisps.
  • A can of drink.
  • A CD of the carol you plan to use.
  • Equipment to play the CD.

Preparation

  • Before the assembly, wrap up the ‘presents’.
  • Set up equipment for playing the CD in the assembly, and make sure it all works.
  • ‘Party guest’ volunteers. Before the assembly, enlist the help of four or five volunteers and give them one of the ‘presents’. Explain briefly that you are going to ask them to the front, bringing their ‘present’ with them, and then to act as if they are enjoying a party. You will tell them what to do as the assembly progresses. You might like to ask the teacher responsible for the assembly to select ‘appropriate’ volunteers for you. See ‘Note’ at end of outline. (Optional)

Presentation

1 Start by talking about parties.

• Are they going to any parties this Christmas?

• Have they been to/had any good birthday parties?

2 Say that you want them to imagine how they would feel if the following happened at their birthday party.

(Put on a party hat yourself, badge with ’18 today’ etc at this point.)

Say that:

You are going to have a party. You invite your friends and they are all going to come. The food and drink look great.

(Bring out a token bag of crisps and can of drink!)

It’s all ready. Everyone comes.

(At this point, invite your ‘party guest’ volunteers to come to the front carrying their presents. Put on the CD, keeping volume low, so you can be heard. Encourage your volunteers to act as if they are at a party.)

Say that, all is going well. You notice that they’ve each brought a present with them – and you think, ‘Great – wonder what I’ve got!’

Then the music stops.

(Turn off the music.)

People start getting out their presents.

(Encourage your ‘party guests’ to look at their presents.)

You wait for them to give you the presents – after all, it is your birthday.

(Look excited.)

But they don’t. Your friends give each other the presents!

(Encourage your ‘party guests’ to give one another the presents and to unwrap them, dropping the paper on the floor, leaving you out.)

Ask, ‘How would you feel if this was your party?’

(Thank your volunteers and ask them to go back to their places.)

Say that the party is over. All your friends have gone and you have been left on your own with just the wrappings.

Reflection

1 Say that maybe that’s how Jesus feels about Christmas. Briefly comment on how there’s lots of partying at Christmas. Then ask, about the meaning of Christmas, ‘Whose birthday is it anyway?’

2 Talk about how today we often forget that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday. We get preoccupied with thinking about the presents we’re going to give to other people, and what we’re going to get. This is a contrast to the first Christmas when Jesus was the centre of attention and three very special gifts were given to the baby. Briefly explain that gold was for a king, frankincense for a priest and myrrh, used in burial customs, reminds us of Jesus’ death.

3 Explain that Christians started giving gifts to each other at Christmas as a reminder and celebration of God’s gift of Jesus to the world. At this point, you could read from the Bible: John 3:16.

Response

1 In a time of quiet:

• Ask the students to think about the presents they plan to give, and the ones they hope to get. Encourage them to let every present, this Christmas, be a reminder of how God showed his love for us through his gift of Jesus to the world.

• Thank God for sending Jesus into the world for us.

• Ask the students if they can think of someone who is going to be left out of Christmas celebrations this year. Is there something they could do, or a gift they could give, to show them some of God’s love – just as God did for us when he sent Jesus.

2 You could finish the time of quiet by listening to a verse from a Christmas carol about God’s gift of Jesus at Christmas (eg the appropriates verse from ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, ‘The First Nowell’ or ‘We Three Kings’). Alternatively, you could read the words.

Wish everyone a very happy Christmas!

Note: If you don’t wish to involve volunteers or it’s not easy to do so, simply use the outline as above, omitting the sections about inviting volunteers to the front and instructions to them as you talk about the party. You can still set the scene by putting on the hat and badge yourself, playing the CD etc.

 

 

How do you spell harvest? – Harvest

Aim

To encourage pupils to be ready to share with those in need

Bible base

Luke 16:19-31 – the rich man and Lazarus

You will need:

  • 7 pieces of card, each one showing a letter of the word ‘harvest’
  • Some unusual fruit (eg a star fruit, a fig, a kiwi fruit, a mango, an avocado; a toffee apple – for fun!)
  • A diagram of ‘the global’ village (see illustration) either on large card or via a digital projector.
  • 6 jam-filled, sugar-coated doughnuts
  • A roll of kitchen towel

Preparation

  • Prepare cards showing the letters to make the word ‘harvest’.
  • Prepare the diagram of ‘the global village’ – The Global Village.

Content

Introduction

1. Begin by saying that you are going to be thinking about the meaning of harvest time in this assembly.

2. Ask for seven volunteers. Give each of them one of the cards showing a letter from the word ‘harvest’. Ask them to order themselves, so that the letters spell the word ‘harvest’.

Harvest time is about…

• EARTH

1. Ask the volunteers to order themselves so the letters spell ‘earth’.

2. Say that harvest time is about celebrating all the good things the earth provides. Remind pupils that there is produce in our shops from all over the world. Some of it is familiar, some less so.

3. Show pupils the pieces of ‘unusual’ fruit, one at a time. Ask them if anyone can tell you what each is called. If the person you ask gets the answer correct, give them the piece of fruit. (Show them a toffee apple for fun!)

4. Comment that the variety of food in the world is staggering. And there is so much of it – enough to feed twice the world’s population. And all this is what is remembered at harvest time – as a gift from God.

• STARVE

1. Ask the volunteers to rearrange themselves, so that the letters spell the word ‘starve’.

2. Say that in spite of the vast supplies of food on our planet, people are starving – not just a few people tucked away in the corner of the world, but millions of people!

3. Say that if this world of 5.7 billion people were described as if it were a global village of 5000 people, we would discover some interesting facts (Display the diagram of ‘the global village’). Talk about the contrasts which exist between the lives of the rich and the poor.

4. Comment that the world’s resources are not evenly spread. Ask: How can this be put right?

• SHARE

1. Ask the volunteers to order themselves so that the letters spell the word ‘share’.

2. Announce that you could all ‘share’ now! Ask who would like a doughnut. Ask for three more volunteers.

3. Give each volunteer a doughnut and give them this instruction: This doughnut must be eaten, but you must not lick your lips!

4. Tell the audience you would like them to help with this challenge by shouting, ‘Licking your lips!’ if they spot anyone doing just that. Have the kitchen towel handy!

5. Allow about thirty seconds for the challenge. At the end of the ensuing mayhem, see who has eaten the most without licking their lips.

6. Then remind them that the instruction was that the doughnut must be eaten, but that they must not lick their lips! Ask how else they could have achieved the task. Eventually someone will realise that it could be done by feeding someone else!

7. Then give each of the three volunteers another doughnut and ask them to go and feed as many people as possible!

8. After a few moments ask them to return to their seats and give them a round of applause.

• HEART

1. Ask the audience what they think will have to happen for people to be willing to share on a global – or even local – scale.

2. Say that the final word you want your volunteers to spell is ‘heart’. Ask the volunteers to order themselves so that the letters spell the word ‘heart’.

3. Say that for people to be willing to share so that everyone in the world has all they need, there needs to be a change of heart – starting with you and me. It has been said that we need to live more simply, so that others may simply live!

Application

1. Tell the story which Jesus told about the rich man and the poor man called Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Lazarus sat each day at the gate of the rich man, begging. In the story, they both died. The poor man went to heaven and the rich man went to hell. The point of the story wasn’t that the rich man was to blame for the poor man’s state, but that he ignored him and did nothing to help.

2. Comment that it’s easy to think that we can’t do anything. After all, the poor and the starving are too far away for us to be able to make any difference, aren’t they? But we can do something: we can give our money to those working to relieve hunger: and we can ask God to change our hearts – now, today, so that we are more willing to share with those around us here.

 

I remember when – Remembrance Day & Forgiveness

Bible base

Matthew 5:9,38–48

 Things you’ll need:

  • Items from the past, eg old vinyl records, Rubik’s Cube, large mobile phone, recordings of old songs to play.
  • Items from their lives today, eg current CDs, the latest games console, small mobile phone.
  • Equipment to play old songs, if using.
  • Remembrance day ‘poppies’.

Preparation

  • Set up equipment for playing music, if using.
  • Devise extra quiz questions, if needed.
  • If you have enough poppies to give the students one each, get some volunteers to give them out as the students enter.

Presentation

1 Show the students some of the items from the past you’ve brought in. You might like even to play an old song or two. Talk about how the items from the past have been surpassed by newer things.

2 Do this quiz, encouraging participation: ‘I remember when…’ The students have to tell you the year of the events. Below are some memorable events and their dates. Depending on time you have available, you might want to add some more notable dates.

You could do the quiz either by simply asking the audience, with hands up for answers; by dividing the audience in two, each section competing against each other; or having a competition between two teams of volunteers at the front.

Ask: In which year did the following events take place?

  • JF Kennedy shot (1963)
  • Man landed on the moon (1969)
  • The Falklands war (1982)
  • Bomb at the Atlanta Olympics (1996)
  • Princess Diana died (1997)
  • The World Trade Center destroyed by terrorist attack (2001)

3 Talk about the idea of history repeating itself, for example:

  • Old fashions come back in to fashion, eg mini-skirts, flares;
  • War re-occurs, eg Falklands War, Gulf War, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq.
  • Violence and terrorism, eg September 11, suicide bombs in Israel.

4 Show the students a Remembrance Day poppy. Explain that these were first sold and worn as reminders of the fields of France covered in red poppies during World War I and also reminders of the bloodshed in wars since.

After the two major world wars in Europe in the first half of the last century, the British Legion wanted future generations never to forget the atrocities of war and to remember those who had died for their country.

5 Say that they might have heard these words, often spoken at this time of year, in remembrance of people who have given their lives in wars:

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old, age shall not weary them not the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. When you go home, tell them of us and say, “For your tomorrow we gave our today”.’ Kohima Memorial in Burma

6 Explain that some Christians, who were pacifists, did not fight in the two World Wars, believing that, whatever the reasons, it is always wrong to kill others and that other ways of making peace should be found. Other Christians believed it was right to go to war and gave their lives to preserve freedom and peace for others.

7 Explain that, whether we believe war is right or wrong, the Bible talks about the importance of being willing to forgive, and about reconciliation and seeking peace wherever possible. That applies to every day quarrels between people too.

8 Read out some of these verse from the Bible: Matthew 5:9,38–48.

Reflection

Ask the students:

  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • In what ways could you contribute to making peace (in school, your family, your community, the world)?
  • Can you forgive others, when you need to, and not seek revenge or retribution?

Response

1 Tell the students you are going to have a short time of quiet, when you want them to think honestly about the following:

• Are there people at home or school who they need to forgive?

Tell them they could ask God to help them forgive others.

• How could they help make peace between themselves and someone else, or even in the wider world?

Remind them they could ask God to help them do something about this today.

2 Finally, get them to look at their own poppy or the one you’re showing them. Encourage them, every time they see one of these at this time of year, to remember what it means and to let it challenge them to work for peace, in big and small ways.

 

 

Message for Theophilus! – Advent

Bible base:

Luke 1:1-4

Teaching objectives:

To introduce the Christian belief that Luke’s Gospel is a true record of Jesus’ life.

You will need:

  • Two large sheets of paper.
  • Two marker pens
  • A copy of Luke’s Gospel
  • The words ‘What God has done’ on a large piece of paper

Optional:

  • Magazine about famous people;
  • Luke 1:1-4 on large cards

Introductory activity:

Imagine meeting a famous person and chatting with them! Who would you want to meet? (You may wish to have a copy of a magazine of famous people with you to give some examples of some of the people they could meet.)

Take some of the pupils’ suggestions, and choose two who have chosen very different people to come to the front. (Make sure that you choose two pupils who can write clearly; ask members of staff to help if in doubt. It would also be advisable to choose older pupils). Explain to the chosen pupils that they are going to write a letter to someone to tell them about their celebrity encounter.

Give each pupil one of the sheets of paper and a marker pen, and place them at either side of the assembly hall (the rest won’t see it until it’s read out).

Ask them to write down the following pieces of information in big letters. After writing each item, they should fold the paper down so that the words are hidden and then swap sheets with the other pupil, like a game of ‘consequences’. (You may wish to have prepared two sheets in advance, in the form of a letter, with the pupils merely filling in gaps, which will keep the activity moving quickly.)

They should write down the following information:

  • Who they are writing to (e.g. ‘Dear mum, dad, granny’)
  • Who they meet (e.g. a film star, a pop star, royalty)
  • What they say to the famous person
  • What the famous person says to them
  • What the result is

As they are doing this, ask the assembly to think of who they would put in the story if they were writing it.

Read out the ‘letters’, adding in the necessary words to make full sentences. They may be either funny or nonsensical: comment accordingly.

The letters are jumbled because they are a mixture of two different accounts written about imaginary encounters with two very different people. Neither of the pupils has actually met their famous person, so their accounts do not really help us get to know this person better.

Choose one of the famous people and ask the pupils how they would find out more information about what this person is like. Possible suggestions: Internet, magazines, newspaper articles, interviewing people who know them etc.

Two thousand years ago a man called Luke wanted to write a letter to his friend Theophilus about Jesus. How could he have found out more about Jesus? Without the Internet or international media sources, Luke went to the most accurate source of information – people who knew Jesus, or had met Him and had seen what He had done in His life. Once Luke had gathered all the information, he wrote it all down in a long letter to Theophilus. (If you have large cards of the opening verses of Luke’s Gospel, show it to the assembly now, explaining that this is how Luke begins his letter.)

Show the pupils a copy of Luke’s Gospel.

This is a copy of the letter that Luke wrote to his friend. Imagine if Luke had not written it all down, but had just told Theophilus all that he had discovered. We might never have heard all the stories that are recorded in this part of the Bible.

The New Living Translation refers to the eyewitnesses’ reports of ‘what God has done’. Show these words to the assembly. Christians believe that Luke’s story, and the whole Bible, is the story of ‘what God has done’.

Optional prayer time:

Thank God that Luke did write all his stories down, so that we can read them too and learn more about Jesus.

 

 

 

Message for some shepherds! – Christmas

Bible base:

Luke 2:8-20

Teaching objectives:

To explore how Christians believe the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds shows that it is a message for everyone.

You will need:

  • Pictures of scientists, shepherds and politicians enlarged on to big pieces of paper/card.
  • 6 headlines enlarged and stuck to large pieces of card or the front of newspapers.

Introductory activity:

Show the assembly the pictures of the three groups of people. Ask what job they think each group does. Explain that the first group are scientists, the second are shepherds and the third are politiicans.

Show the assembly each of the first five headlines in turn. Which of our three groups should be the first to hear this news? Put the headline underneath the appropriate picture.

  1. NEW DISCOVERY TO SAVE LIVES
  2. NEW RULER IN THE NATION
  3. IMPORTANT NEWS FROM THE KING
  4. NEW WAY TO IMPROVE LIFE
  5. NEW SHEEP HERDING METHOD DISCOVERED

The shepherds would be last to hear all the world-changing news – they might have heard about the new ways to herd sheep if they could be found on the hills! The shepherds we are going to look at today lived 2000 years ago, before there were radios or newspapers, so they would have heard virtually nothing of what was happening even in their own country.

Christians believe that one night these shepherds heard the greatest news that anyone had ever heard. There had been about 700 years since God gave the message to Isaiah. (Only mention if you have done the assembly on Isaiah). On this night, the shepherds were given a world exclusive!

Look at all the headlines the other groups have. Christians believe that all these headlines came true the night that Jesus was born. He came to save lives, He came to be a ruler, He was sent from God, the King, and He would improve the life of His people. But, the amazing thing was that this message went first not to the scientists of the time (take their headlines away), nor to the politicians (take their headlines away), but to the shepherds (put all the headlines with the shepherds).

These shepherds were all out in the fields, watching their sheep, minding their own business, when suddenly, an angel appeared to them and told them that the person God had promised years before, whom they had heard about from their parents and grandparents, had finally been born in Bethlehem. And what was more, they were the first to hear about it! I wonder if they had ever been first to hear any news before?

So, why did they hear it first? The answer is in what the angel says. Show them the final headline:

6. I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU, WHICH WILL MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY

The message of Jesus is not just for very clever or important people, but for everyone. Because of this, God made sure that the shepherds, who were not rich, important or even well thought of, heard it first. Christians believe that everyone is important to God and that He wants everyone to know about His Son Jesus.

Optional prayer time:

Show all the headlines (apart from the one about sheep herding!) and pray through them, giving thanks that Jesus is the fulfilment of all these things.