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.

 

 

 

 

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 – Jeremiah

Topic

Jeremiah

Aim

To challenge children to stop and think about whether something is good, rather than just being carried along by the enthusiasm of others for whatever is new.

Things you’ll need

  • Bold, clear adverts for new products (eg latest fashions, sportswear, toys or games, pop groups/songs etc), or a selection of new, ‘latest’ products to show.
  • A simple signpost, made out of card, pointing in two directions with a space to add the word ‘good’ during the assembly.
  • Words from Jeremiah 6:16, Youth Bible, Nelson Word copied onto a large sheet of paper, and rolled up like a scroll

Bible base

Jeremiah 6:16

Content

1 Show the adverts for, or examples of, a variety of the ‘latest’, ‘new’ things, which are also popular. Invite the children to comment on the various items. Ask why they think the things are ‘good’. Do they like them/want them because ‘everyone’ likes/has them?

2 Talk about being in a crowd when everyone is going in one direction and how hard it is to go the opposite way. Then show the signpost. Talk about coming to a crossroads where you have to stop and choose which way to go.

3 Talk to the children about Jeremiah, using the following idea, adapting the style and vocabulary to suit the particular situation:

Over two and a half thousand years ago a man called Jeremiah was living in the country we now call Israel. We can read about him in the Bible. He was a prophet– one of God’s special messengers. He listened very carefully to God and then told the people what God had said.

Long before Jeremiah was born, God had given the people some very good instructions about how to live. He had told them about what was really important in life– loving God and caring for each other. But by Jeremiah’s time they had forgotten all about God’s rules. They were greedy, always wanting more things. They told lies. They didn’t care about helping poor people. They certainly didn’t love God. God’s rules were ‘old’. They were rushing through life towards something ‘new’.

One day, God told Jeremiah to give the people this message.

Ask the children to listen carefully. Then read the Jeremiah’s message from the scroll (Jeremiah 6:16).

This is what the Lord says:

‘Stand where the roads cross and look.

Ask where the old way is,

where the good way is, and walk on it.

If you do, you will find rest for yourselves.’

4 Show the children the signpost again. Remind them that the message told the people to do several things. Ask the children what these things were. Talk about each as the children respond, explaining as appropriate. The instructions were to:

  • stand still and look (comment that if we’re always rushing from one thing to the next, we’ll never have time to think about what we’re doing);
  • ask where the ‘old way’ is;
  • ask where the ‘good way’ is.(write ‘good’ on the signpost);
  • walk on it.

5 Ask the children if they remember what the promise was at the end of the message (‘…you will find rest for yourselves’). Explain that the word ‘rest’ here doesn’t mean resting your body. It means being peaceful inside yourself– being at peace with God.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

Even though Jeremiah’s message was given thousands of years ago, Christians believe it is still important today to take his message from God seriously. They believe that God’s way is the best way. The Bible is a book full of instructions about how to live God’s way, the good way. Christians believe that Jesus gave us an example of how to do that. For Christians, Jeremiah’s message from God reminds them to stop and take time to read the Bible to find out what God says ‘the good way’ is– and then to follow it!

For everyone

For all of us, it is good to stop sometimes and think about what we are doing, to think about what ‘the good way’ is, and then to go that way.

Response

Ask the children to look at the signpost and think about what they have been doing recently. Have they been walking along ‘the good way’? In a few moments of quiet, ask the children to think about whether there is something in their lives they need to change.