Title: The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
Subject: Infancy Narratives
Age: 3 to 13 years
Liturgical Calendar: Epiphany (February 2nd) after Christmas, 40 day blessing
Doctrinal Content: God has a plan from the beginning of time. His plan is to bring all people to Him, have a relationship with Him, and to have joy in knowing the Lord. He prepares His people who wait and watch. Anna and Simeon were given a gift from the Holy Spirit. They were able to recognize Jesus because they watched and waited for Him. Even though Jesus was God, He still followed laws. People who believed took action and showed they were in a relationship with Him. Jesus is the light to enlighten the Gentiles to the glory of Israel.
Direct Aim: Through the narrative of the presentation in the temple, students will ponder the mystery of who Jesus is and the response of joy Anna and Simeon had since they knew who this baby was.
Indirect Aims: Indirectly this lesson aims to ponder who Jesus is and the mystery of His Incarnation, Jesus is both God and man; to nurture a response of joy to who Jesus is; to enter more fully into the celebration of Christmas, Epiphany, and prayer; to lay a foundation for sharing the good news; and as a help to understand waiting.
Sources: Luke 2:22-33, 36-39
Materials for the Lesson:
Raised map of the Land of Israel
Model of Jerusalem
Model of Temple
Figures to represent each of the following:
- Baby Jesus
White scripture booklet with the words from Luke: 2:21-33, 36-39
Candle, matches, snuffer
The Lesson Plan:
Invite the children to gather and settle. Begin with, "This is a time for listening." Continue with an introductory comment, discussing the background of what took place during Jesus' birth: shepherds visiting, Maji bring gifts, fulfillment of God's plan, the prophecy of the Prophets coming true. People were waiting for Christ's birth, waiting.
As an option, use the map to show Jerusalem, the location of the Temple.
Light the candle and read the text, Luke: 2:21-33 and 36-39:
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrfiice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him (Luke 2:21-33).
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 36-39).
"What did we hear?" God said all followers should be circumcised as a way to mark them, showing "I love God and will follow Him." Jesus' parents brought Jesus to temple when He was 8 days old, and Simeon came to temple that day because the Holy Spirit guided him. Simeon was devout and righteous. Anna was a very old woman who never left the temple. Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus when He was brought to the temple.
Read the passages again and move models accordingly.
Anna and Simeon were able to recognize this is baby Jesus through the following:
- The Holy Spirit helped them and was present.
- They had been waiting and looking.
- They fasted and prayed and lived in a holy place.
- Simeon was devout and righteous and received a special promise that before he died, he would set eyes on the Lord.
- Simeon's Prayer: "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."
- Anna began to praise God and said thank you. She shared the news.
- Mary and Joseph followed the law of God to Jews and brought their Son to temple.
Continue the lesson with, "We can say these prayers of Anna and Simeon to God. Would you like to say this to God? How do you think Anna and Simeon felt? Mary and Joseph?"
Invite the children to use this material when they want.
Have children learn by heart the prayer of St. Simeon or have them write it out and learn to say this prayer each evening during their prayer time.
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.