The Sheep’s Story
Sorry for the late post this week! We continue our series of advent lessons, this week with the shepherds and the sheep. We will add them to our nativity scene and this lesson will follow the shepherds to Bethlehem, looking at all we can learn from their experiences.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Last week we saw Mary and Joseph make their way to Bethlehem to prepare for the birth of Jesus. Today we shall look at some other people who were told about the great things that were happening, some shepherds in the fields.
Today’s reading is Luke 2:8-15. For younger children you can use this version we threw together from the sheep’s perspective.
The Sheep’s Story
Although this is a short verse, there is quite a lot in it. Here are some ideas for discussion within your group.
Firstly, the fact that it was to shepherds that God reveals His message is important. Explain that at the time shepherds were not well liked within society. Ask the children to think about how the shepherds lived, they lived and slept in fields with their sheep. They didn’t have showers or baths or washing machines so they smelled badly so people, generally, did not want them around. Shepherds were considered unreliable and untrustworthy, yet they were the first people that God told about Jesus’ birth.
Think about what this says about God’s love. After all it doesn’t matter how much people may not like you God still loves you.
When you think about the shepherds in the field you probably think of the dark, the cold and silence. Although they may have been talking amongst each other and the sheep would have been making noises, considering they were largely alone and in some fields rather than a town or a city there would have been silence. Yet suddenly the silence is gone and replaced with a whole chorus of angels singing praise to God. It’s no wonder the angel says ‘don’t be afraid’.
Think about when we use silence in church, sometimes we use silence in prayer to listen to God, or to reflect on things, or even in worship. Usually when we use silence we’re waiting for something, usually for God to reveal Himself to us, just like He did to the shepherds.
Shepherds in the Bible
Shepherds and sheep appear quite a lot in the Bible. Consider in what context. Sheep were used in the first sacrifices. Many people in the Bible were shepherds including David, the king who Jesus was descended from. Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God, and is also the good shepherd. Think about the job that the shepherds did. Even though shepherds were considered the lowest of society, this is who God likens himself to.
The very first thing the angel says to the shepherds is ‘do not fear’. If you were quietly sitting, minding your own business and suddenly there is a blaze of light and angels appear to you (even if they weren’t terrifying to behold) it would still be a scary experience. The angel tells the shepherds to go and seek out Jesus, but to do this they have to overcome their fear first.
Think about how this reflects the message of God today. Some people are afraid of hearing about God, they might be afraid of the changes they have to make in their lives if they believe. Yet look at the rewards for those overcoming the fear. The shepherds could have run off, scared but instead they listened and their reward was finding the baby Jesus in the flesh.
Goats and Sheep
-Separate your children into two groups and choose one to be the shepherd.
One of the groups represents the sheep and must make ‘baa’ noises.
The other group represents the goats and must make ‘meh’ noises.
-The aim of the game is for the shepherd to move all the sheep onto one side of the room and the goats to the other. The sheep and goats can move around and can only be moved if the shepherd is touching them. However once they are put in their ‘pen’ they must stay there.
You will need:
-Very simply you can draw a sheep on some paper and stick it into your nativity scene that we started making last week (see our last post for this craft). If you want to jazz it up you can add some cotton wool to it. If you need a template here’s one complete with tabs:
-If you want to add some shepherds into the scene then do follow the instructions for making Joseph in last week’s lesson, simply add a paper crook.
You will need:
Tissue paper (to wash your hands up after)
– Paint one of your hands with the black paint and make a hand print with your fingers spread out as far as you can. Turn it so that the four fingers make legs and the thumb becomes a head.
-Then just glue the cotton wool to make a body and draw some eyes onto the head.
Angel Tree Topper
A bit of a cop out, however I was going to put here a craft to make an angel so the children could place it on top of their tree. But the craft I could put here does not come close to the elegance of this printable angel tree topper found here: http://spoonful.com/printables/angel-tree-topper
We only have two more Sundays until Christmas is upon us. Today we learned about the shepherds and how the angel revealed to them the glory of God. We should pray that like the shepherds we seek God with joy and hope and that he will reveal Himself to us.