Important scripture: Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1:18-24
Because this lesson was originally written for older children (I taught a different class last year and have been sick this year from surgery), it may need to be adjusted to fit the age of the children in your class.
First read the scripture I noted above. If necessary, tell the children in your own words what happens in the scripture. It is probably best to read the scripture and then tell them in your own words so what happens is reinforced. Small children have very small attention spans and if you tell something one, two, or three times it is not always a bad thing. Just be sure to keep their eyes from glazing over with boredom. I sometimes read the scripture out of a book written for children instead of the bible as it is more interesting to them.
The first thin I ask after reading the scripture and talking about what it says is “What is an angel?” or “What comes to mind if you think of an angel” This may seem like an obvious enough question but the responses are very interesting. Common responses will focus on the physical traits of angels-beautiful, shiny, you might get an older children who says “like God” or others. It is important to emphasize that angels are all of the above but the most important thing is they convey messages from God to humans for example, Mary and Joseph in the scriptures above.
In order to keep the older children from thinking this is something that no longer occurs, I looked up a favorite scripture on a bible database online. http://bibledatabase.org
King James Version of the bible Hebrews 13:2 states:
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
The point of the scripture is that angels can look and be however God chooses them to be. The most important thing is that angels have power from God and even though we mostly hear of angel visits happening back in biblical times, it does continue to happen. The importance of their function-relaying messages from God-has never changed.
An important point is to ask the children why Gabriel chose to first tell Mary that God was with her so she should rejoice (be happy). Conveying this to children is extremely difficult because most small children cannot understand why someone would feel fear at a presence from God’s angels. We discussed this in class a couple of weeks ago and the children in my class are too young to understand the fear that arises when a person realizes he or she is unworthy to see God yet does. I have found that children in the age range of mine (4-8 years) see God as a kind, grandfatherly figure and have not yet visualized what happens when they reach accountability, do wrong, know it, and do not repent. The fear of God is necessary for salvation and a lot of very small children cannot think abstractly enough to realize this fact. If you have older children, it is important to stress Gabriel was wanting to make sure Mary new she had not angered God but pleased him. The bible is filled with people seeing God and being afraid as well as relieved. Even if a small child does not understand the complexities behind this, it could be good to look up some examples to show others’ varying reactions.
Depending on the age of your children you can discuss how Jesus fulfills what was said many years before he was born in his being the descendent of David who will rule over the house of Jacob. We will attempt making a Star of David for Christmas trees after the lesson so elaborate on this as much as you would like.
It may be difficult to tell younger children why an angel visited Joseph but due to the message of the lesson it is very important. The children may be confused as to why Joseph would consider leaving Mary and I am unsure how to convey this to very small children who do not understand sexual intercourse and adultery. It is important that Joseph was concerned God was not the true father of Jesus and an angel stopped him from leaving her by telling him the baby was God’s son.
Lastly before moving into crafts, emphasize how special it is that Christ is the only literal son of God. Encourage the children to think about our true meaning of Christmas-a celebration of Christ’s birthday, his ultimate death on the cross, and of us being able to get to Heaven and see him again.
Inexpensive Christmas craft
The Star of David
For each child: six popsicle sticks, some paint or markers, and one large chenille stem needed. Glitter is optional.
1) Paint each stick a certain color-preferably red or green since they are Christmas colors and look good on most Christmas trees. Also you can use glitter after the paint has dried. Let everything dry.
2) Glue the ends of three sticks to form a triangle. Set this aside to dry.
3) Glue the ends of three more sticks to form an upside down triangle.
4)When both triangles have dried. Glue to sides of the upside down triangle the right side up one forming a star like the star of David.
5) When everything has dried, use a chenille stem between the two triangles (at the top) to wrap around as a way of hanging to a Christmas tree without a hook.
It is best to begin this craft at the beginning of the lesson as things do take a while to dry.