Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shepherds Visit Baby Jesus - Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)


Shepherds Visit Baby Jesus
Scripture Reference: Luke 2:8-20
Memory Verse: Luke 2:12
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objective: 
December is the month of the year many people look forward to…mainly because it’s the month we celebrate Christmas. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have even more reason to celebrate Christmas because it reminds us of the birth of our Savior. This month, we will study different events surrounding the birth of the Messiah. 

Say:
(Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12)

Icebreaker Questions: 
If you were a shepherd, what do you think would be some of your responsibilities?

What is it about the month of December that excites you?

What are some things you and your family usually do to celebrate Christmas?

Activity Time:

3D Star Paper Craft
This is a cute, simple paper craft that results in a 3D ornament you can hang around on the Christmas tree.

Materials:
scissors 
green and red crayons
string, thread, ribbon, or wool.

Instructions:
Cut out the template pieces (may require adult assistance and can be done before hand). 
Cut on one of the dotted lines right up to the center.
Pick out the two matching stars (this is good practice for young children!). 
Slide the stars together, top to bottom 
Punch a small hole in the top and tie a ribbon through it. 

Say: 
Celebrating the birth of Jesus—which is the main reason for celebrating Christmas—will be our theme during the month of December. Today we will talk about the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus.  
   
Bible Story Time: 

Reflection: Describe your surroundings had you been a shepherd in Jesus’ time. 

When Jesus lived, there were no electric lights in people’s homes nor were there street lights so people could see as they walked along the roads. When shepherds took their sheep out to mountain pastures for fresh green grass, they would have to spend the night in almost total darkness. The stars and moon would have been their only light.

Reflection: How many of you have ever visited an underground cavern and had the tour guide turn out the lights? What you experienced was total darkness. How did it make you feel?

On one particular night—as a group of shepherds was living out in the fields with their sheep just outside the village—something strange happened. They were, no doubt, accustomed to fighting off wild animals or thieves, but they were not prepared for what they were about to experience. Suddenly, in the midst of the dark nighttime sky, a bright light appeared. It wasn’t a comet or a shooting star. It was an angel. And not just any angel but rather one with a special message. 

Reflection: How do you think the shepherds responded when they saw this angel?

Understandably, the shepherds were frightened. The angel understood they were scared, so he told them not to be afraid. He was not coming to harm them but to bring them some news that would be good news to everyone who heard it. The news was that the long awaited Messiah—Jesus—had been born that very night in Bethlehem. The angel not only told them where the baby had been born but he also told them how they’d recognize him. After all, Jesus might not have been the only baby born that night. They would find him lying in a manger. 

Reflection: What is a manger? Have you seen them in Christmas plays? Do you think that would be a nice place for a newborn baby to be placed?

A manger was a feeding trough for animals. Because of a census ordered by the Roman emperor, many people were traveling to their hometowns to register for taxation. By the time Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, all the rooms were filled. The only place they could find was a stable—probably a cave. Here in a dark cave where animals were corralled, Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus. When the angel told the shepherds they would find this baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger, this revealed how they would distinguish Jesus from any other babies who may have been born that same night. 

If one angel wasn’t frightening enough, many more also appeared to the shepherds and praised God by saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds were eager to find the baby. They hurried into the village, and sure enough they located Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus just like the angels told them they would. 

Reflection: Has you been one of these shepherds, would you have kept this good news to yourself?

Good news is hard to keep to ourselves, and the shepherds couldn’t keep this news concealed. They told everyone they met. After telling everyone what had happened, they returned to the fields to watch over their sheep. 

Reflection: How do you think the shepherds’ lives were changed after they discovered the baby Jesus? 

Activity Time: 
Have children complete the Christmas Foods Anagram

Transition:
Let’s sing about Jesus’ birth.

Song:  
Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me Lord Jesus
I ask thee to stay.
Close by me forever,
And love my I pray.

Bless all the dear children,
In thy tender care.
And take them to heaven,
To be with thee there.

Wrap Up:
Let each child tell one thing they learned about the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus. 

______________________________

Martin N Michelle
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