Message for Zechariah! – Advent

Bible base:

Luke 1:5-25

Teaching objectives:

To show that Christians believe God answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is unbelievable, but they believe he can be trusted.

You will need:

  • Chewy fruit sweets which are sold in tightly-wrapped paper.
  • Clothes to dress up two pupils – one boy and one girl – as old people, eg a tweed jacket, a shawl, an old-fashioned handbag, etc.
  • Two envelopes addressed to Zechariah, with ‘God’ written on the back as the sender’s name. One envelope should contain the words “Your wife, Elizabeth, will have a son’ and the other the words, ‘He will persuade people to turn to God and will prepare the way for God’s Son.’

Introductory activity:

If you are doing this assembly as part of a series before Christmas, ask the pupils what presents they are hoping to receive. Alternatively, at other times in the year, ask if anyone has a birthday coming up. Ask them to raise their hand if they want to tell you about the presents they would like to receive.

Ask three pupils to come to the front of the assembly hall. Ask them if they are right or left-handed. Put a chewy fruit sweet wrapped in paper in their other hand and ask them to unwrap it using only that hand. Encourage the rest of the pupils to cheer them on.

When they have finished, ask them why they kept trying to get the sweet opened. It is because they wanted to eat it. If they didn’t care, they would have given up.

Today’s story is about a man called Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. Just like our volunteers, there was something that they really wanted. It wasn’t just a sweet however, and they had wanted this thing for many years.

Choose a boy and a girl to come to the front to be Zechariah and Elizabeth. Start to dress them up in costumes as you build up a picture of what they were like.

Zechariah and Elizabeth lived a long time ago in a hot country a long way from here, but to help us imagine them more easily, we will dress them up in modern clothes. They were also very old – older than your grandparents – so we will dress them up to look like older people.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had lived a long and good life, and had been very happy. But one thing in their life made them very sad: they had no children. They both loved children, but they had never had any of their own. Now they were so old, there was no chance they could have a child. This was the only thing in their life that really made them sad. Encourage the pupils at the front to look sad.

The Bible says that Zechariah and Elizabeth loved God very much and had always tried to obey him in everything they did. Because they loved him so much and believed that he loved them even more, they used to talk to him all the time about everything they were thinking and feeling.

They believed that God was very powerful and that he was the only one who could help them. Every day they would tell him about how much they wanted a child.

Zechariah was a priest, and one day he was in the temple on his own, praying to God when something amazing happened: an angel appeared! Zechariah was very afraid, but the angel told him not to be. He was sent from God to give Zechariah a message.

Give one of the envelopes addressed to ‘Zechariah’ to your volunteer. Ask them to open it and read what it says:

‘Your wife, Elizabeth, will have a son.’

At last, here was an answer to their prayers! But that was not the end of the message.

Give the pupil the second envelope to read out:

‘He will persuade people to turn to God and will prepare the way for God’s son.’

God had heard their prayers and had answered them, but his answer was even better than they had imagined. Not only would Elizabeth have a baby, but this baby would have a very special job, preparing people for God’s son, Jesus.

The message was so amazing that Zechariah found it very hard to believe. Elizabeth was so old! But Elizabeth believed the message for one simple reason.

Ask ‘Elizabeth’ to check on the back of the envelope to see who the message is from and tell the rest of the assembly.

Elizabeth knew they could trust this message because it was from someone they knew: God. She knew that God loved them and wouldn’t lie to them. Now God had answered their prayer in an amazing way!

Luke’s Gospel is an exciting message to Theophilus (only mention Theophilus if you have already done the previous assembly) and to us, but this is the first exciting message within his story. Christians believe it is a message that shows us that God is in touch with people and answers their prayers in more incredible ways than they could ever imagine. Elizabeth’s son was John the Baptist, sent to prepare people for an even more exciting message still to come.

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that God heard Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers and answered them. Thank him that he is still in touch with people today.

 

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