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Messengers from God (Christmas 4)

July 5, 2010

This is the lesson for the last Sunday before Christmas. If you are not actually performing your pageant on this day, you will certainly have plenty to do. Do a run-through of the show, music and all, in your Sunday School space with whoever is around. If you’ve got everything ready, make it a dress rehearsal. If you don’t have everything ready, put the Sunday School to work making halos, angel wings, a star, sheep ears, and whatever else you have in the works.

Just in case you are not doing a pageant at all (or you are super-organized!), the lesson below will fill the time without feeling like filler.

Things to know about this lesson:

  • The angel craft could be used to make puppets for your pageant.
  • The lesson would work beautifully on December 26th or on the Sunday after your pageant.  Celebrate the pageant – it was the message delivered by the angels.
  • A PDF of all four Christmas lessons/pageant:  The Christmas Story (and Pageant).


Messengers from God

Materials

  • construction paper
  • white paper or paper doilies
  • scissors
  • glue/tape
  • pencils
  • markers/crayons
  • glitter (optional)
  • wooden dowels (optional)

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

If you think it would be helpful, you could have the kids tell the story in their own words before you begin rehearsing.

You could also introduce today’s topic – angels.

What do you have on the top of your Christmas tree? (If no one has an angel, bring it up as a possibility)

Do you know what angels do? (bring messages)

The word “angel” comes from a Greek word, angelos (‘g’ as in grape) which means “messenger”. Angels are God’s messengers.

Pay attention to the angels in the story as we read it today.

Even if you are not doing a pageant, you could have the kids act out the story while you read it. Sing or not, as you choose and as your time allows.


Read/Act the Story

[Mary is sitting centre stage, perhaps pretending to sew. ]

God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman named Mary who lived in the town of Nazareth.

[Gabriel enters and stands beside Mary. They look at each other as if in conversation]

Mary was frightened when she saw the angel but he said, “Do not be afraid, Mary – God is happy with you! You are going to have a baby and you will call him Jesus. This baby will become a great man and people will call him the Son of God.”

Mary was very surprised and very confused. She asked the angel, “How is this possible? I am a virgin.”

The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you for nothing is impossible with God! The baby will be holy. He will be called the Son of God.”

Mary still didn’t really understand but she said, “I am God’s servant. Let it be as you said.”

[Angel turns back to audience. Mary leaves the stage. Joseph enters and lies down at centre stage]

At this time, Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendent of King David. When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, he was very angry and sad and he decided to break the engagement off.

[Angel turns to face audience, looks down on sleeping Joseph]

But that night, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, do not be afraid to marry Mary and do not be sad or angry about the baby. He comes from the Holy Spirit. You will name him Jesus and he will save his people from their sins.”

[Angel leaves. Joseph wakes up and leaves the stage]

When Joseph woke up, he did as God had told him, even though he didn’t understand it any better than Mary did.

[Mary and Joseph make their way quietly to the back of the church and then return, walking slowly up the centre aisle, while the narrator continues. O Little Town of Bethlehem could be sung]

While Mary was still pregnant, the Emperor Augustus decided he needed to count everyone in the country. Everyone had to go to the town their family came from to be counted so Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. It was a long way from Nazareth to Bethlehem and it took them a long time to get there. They were both very tired when they finally arrived – and poor Mary was completely exhausted.

[Mary and Joseph meet the innkeeper at the top of the aisle]

To make matters worse, all the hotels and inns were full because of all the people travelling around because of the Emperor’s order. No one had any room for even two more tired travellers. Finally, they found someone who let them sleep in his barn with the animals.

[Mary and Joseph continue to centre stage and take their places in the ‘barn’]

Mary and Joseph didn’t care – they were just glad to be somewhere warm and dry where they could get some rest. But they didn’t get very much rest that night because that was the night that Mary gave birth to a baby – to their son – to the Son of God – to Jesus.

After Jesus was born, Mary wrapped him in cloths and Joseph put clean straw in a manager, an animal feedbox. Jesus fell asleep and Mary laid him in the manger.  Mary and Joseph could hardly believe what had happened. They could hardly take their eyes off their new son.

[What Child is This could be sung. Shepherds enter (perhaps beyond or to the side of the sleeping family – ideally, they would face the choir). While Shepherds Watched their Flocks could be sung]

For the shepherds in Bethlehem, though, that night was just like any other night. They were outside in the fields, watching their sheep to make sure that nothing hurt them in the dark.

[Angel enters and stands in front of shepherds]

Suddenly, a bright light appeared in the sky and they saw an angel standing in front of them. The shepherds were terrified but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. I have joyful news for the whole world. The Lord’s chosen one, the saviour of the world, was born today in Bethlehem. You will find him wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

[the choir of angels (perhaps the actual choir?) joins the angel]

Then a whole choir of angels appeared, praising God and saying

Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.”

[Angels We Have Heard on High could be sung. Angels sit/leave]

When the angels had gone, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem to see this baby that the Lord has told us about!”

[shepherds go to family and kneel before them]

They hurried to Bethlehem and found the barn with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. They knelt down before them and gave thanks to God for the gift of the baby Jesus.

[shepherds leave]

Then the shepherds returned to their sheep, praising God and telling everyone about the amazing things they had seen.

[The star is held up at the front of the church (perhaps by a server) and the wise ones begin walking up the centre aisle. The First Noel could be sung.]

Soon after Jesus was born, some people from the East came to Jerusalem. These were people who knew how to read messages in the stars and they had seen a special star rise – the star of the new King of the Jews, Jesus.

[Herod stands from his place in a pew near the front and pretends to talk to his neighbours]

King Herod was the king in Jerusalem in those days and, when he heard about what these wise people were saying, he got worried about this new king. He asked his advisors where the new king would have been born. His advisors told him that the prophets said that a special ruler who would take care of all the people would be born in Bethlehem.

[wise ones reach Herod’s pew and ‘talk’ to Herod]

Herod called the wise people to a secret meeting and found out when they had first seen the star. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search for the baby and then tell me where he is. I want to go visit him, too.”

[wise ones continue to the holy family and kneel down]

The wise people set off and, there, ahead of them, was the star. It shone down on the place where the baby Jesus was. The wise people were filled with joy and they went in and saw Jesus with Mary and Joseph. They knelt down and gave them expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

[wise ones leave]

When the wise people left, they did not return to Jerusalem and they did not tell Herod where the baby was. They were wise and they knew that old kings do not often like new kings very much.

Mary and Joseph never forgot the wonderful events of that night, the night when their son, Jesus, the Saviour of the World, was born.

[cast returns for photo op/applause. Joy to the World could be sung.]

Discussion

Who remembers where the word “angel” comes from?

Who do the angels talk to?

How do people react to seeing the angels?

What are the messages the angels bring? (the good news of Jesus’ birth; praises to God; peace on earth)

We are called to bring that same message to the world. When we do it, we are being messengers for God – we are being angels!

Introduce the Activity

We’re making angels today – angels with a message for the world that we will help them deliver.

Making Angels

Distribute construction paper, pencils, markers, scissors, and glue (and glitter, if you like).

Decorate the construction paper and shape it into a cone (angel body). You may want to trim the bottom of the cone to make it stand on its own.

Cut circles out of white paper or use paper doilies (wings). Fold the circle in half and glue it to the back of the cone. Again, decorations could be added first.

Cut out small circles and draw faces on them (heads). Glue the faces to the front of the cone, near the point. A nice touch might be to make the angels self-portraits.

You could use these angels as puppets for your angel choir. If that is your plan, attach wooden dowels (or rulers or spoons) up the centre of the cone.

Regrouping

Gather the angels and their makers into an angel choir. Join together in the proclamation: “Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.” Or sing a Christmas carol about angels. Get good and loud about it.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the messages of the angels. Make us your messengers too, bringing news of Jesus to the whole world. Amen.

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