A message from long ago – Christmas

Bible base:

Luke 1:68-70; Isaiah 9:6-7

Teaching objectives:

To discover that the message that Jesus was coming from God was sent to people long before His birth.

You will need:

  • ‘Text words’ on acetate or card
  • a mobile phone with the text message ‘A child is born! He will rule forever from the throne of His ancestor David.’ Set the phone to send the message to its own number when you press the ‘send’ button. Alternatively, write the words out as a letter in an envelope.
  • A sign saying ‘Isaiah’ to put around a pupil’s neck.

Introductory activity:

Show the pupils the following ‘texts’. Are they able to translate them?

XLnt excellent

Pls please

CuL8r see you later

Pcm please call me

LOL lots of love or laugh out loud

Bfn bye for now

Mbrsd embarrassed

Today we are used to receiving messages from people almost immediately, thanks to e-mail, text messages, telephones etc. God has been sending people messages for thousands of years, but sometimes we have to wait a long time to see exactly what God means by his messages.

Imagine we are now in the year 700 BC; that’s about 2700 years ago! Let’s meet a man who lived then, called Isaiah.

Choose a volunteer and put a sign saying ‘Isaiah’ around their neck. Choose about ten other children to come to the front at this point too; you will explain their role a little later.

About 2700 years ago, the Bible says that God sent a message to Isaiah – you can still read the message in the Bible. Today we’re going to imagine the message coming through in a form we are familiar with.

Press the ‘send’ button on your mobile phone, or ask the first person in the line to open the envelope.

Give the phone to ‘Isaiah’ to read out the message to the assembly. Encourage the pupil to pretend to be excited.

Isaiah was very excited about this news. But then he got older and older and still this promised ruler had not appeared. Imagine that this line of pupils is a long line of different generations of one family. Before Isaiah died, he passed the news on to his son, so that when God’s promise happened on earth he would see and understand.

Ask ‘Isaiah’ to tell the message to the next pupil in a loud voice and pass them the phone.

Isaiah’s son was very excited too, but then, many years later, when he too was an old man and the promised ruler had still not appeared, he told his daughter/son so that the mssage would not be forgotton.

The next pupils should pass the message along the line.

Continue to explain about the message being passed on through all the ‘generations’, asking the pupils to pass it on as you do so, until the last person has received the message and the mobile phone. Check that the message is still correct.

The people had to wait a very long time to see God’s message come true. In fact, the people who first heard the message had been dead for hundreds of years before anything happened. Christians believe that God had sent messages to other people years before too, which gave other details about what this baby would be like; for example, which family he would be part of and where he would be born.

So when, eventually, a baby was born in the right place from the right family and when some amazing things happened around the time of His birth, people remembered the things that Isaiah and the others had passed down to them. They believed that this was going to be a very special baby indeed!

Optional prayer time:

Say thank you to God for people like Isaiah who faithfully wrote down what they heard from God, to prepare people for the arrival of His Son. Thank Him that we can still read these messages for ourselves in the Bible.

 

 

God’s special messengers – Isaiah

Topic

Isaiah

Aim

To help pupils see the difference between appearing to do good and actually doing good.

Things you’ll need

  • Lots of screwed-up pieces of paper
  • A rubbish sack
  • A small paint brush
  • Pictures to illustrate the story Picture Illustrations

Bible Base

Isaiah 58:1-9a

Preparation

Before the assembly, scatter the pieces of paper around at the front so that it makes a mess. Place some of the paper on top of things (the piano, window-sill etc) so the pupils will notice it.

Content

1 Ask for a volunteer to come and clear up all the rubbish and say that you will help. Give him/her the rubbish sack. As your volunteer starts clearing up, tell the rest of the pupils what a kind person you are and how you are going to help (but don’t!). Go on about how nice and helpful you are and how you can’t wait to help clear up. Pause after a while and ask the volunteer if a brush would make it easier to collect up the rubbish. Give him/her the paint brush. As the volunteer finishes clearing up, carry on telling the pupils how helpful you are. Just as your volunteer finishes, say that you’re now ready to help. Then thank your volunteer for all their work.

2 Ask the children who they think was the most helpful: you or your volunteer. Argue your case by saying that you said you were helpful, and you even gave the volunteer a brush to help.

3 Make the point that it’s quite easy to appear to be doing good – working when the teacher is looking, not running down the corridor when you’re being watched. Sometimes, though, people seem to be doing good, when really they’re not.

4 Tell the children that in the Bible we read about one of God’s messengers (prophets) called Isaiah. God had seen that people thought they were being good, when really they weren’t. God knew what was going on and he sent Isaiah to tell them. Tell the story, using pictures if possible.

The people of Israel were worshipping God every day. They would pray to God and promise to keep God’s laws. They even had special festivals when they fasted and prayed, but God never seemed to answer their prayers so they started to complain.

It was then that God sent Isaiah with a message. God wasn’t pleased with them, because even though they were worshipping God, fasting and looking as if they were being good, they were actually being horrible to each other. They were fighting, arguing and bullying people. They looked as if they were doing what was right and good, but in fact, they weren’t. God told them that real worship would mean caring for each other, sharing their food with the hungry and looking after people who were homeless and hungry. God told them that if they did that, he would always be with them to protect them.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Christians believe that the Bible teaches God still wants people to worship him today, and to care for those in need. It’s no good people saying they will do what God wants, and then not doing it. The Bible says that being a Christian means loving God and caring for others.

For everyone

Whoever we are, it’s easy to look as if we are a caring person. Talking about caring for others is easy. The real challenge is to do it: to be friends with someone at school who has no friends; to share your crisps with someone who hasn’t got any; to be the kind of person who doesn’t just say you care, but actually does.

Response

Ask the pupils to think of a time when they have pretended to do good, but haven’t really. Now ask them to think of any ways in which they can do good things for others today and during the week.

End with a prayer saying sorry for the times they’ve not really done the right thing, and asking for God’s help to care for others during the day.