Title: The Birth of Jesus, the Nativity, and Adoration of the Shepherds
Subject: Infancy Narrative
Age: 3 to 13 years
Liturgical Time: Christmas
Doctrinal content: The fulfillment of the Messianic Prophesy; the Divine Incarnation of God. To announce the birth of Jesus who came to bring salvation and joy to all.
Direct Aim: The aims of this lesson include to present and recreate the historical account of the Birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and to ponder the identity of Jesus through the action of angels and shepherds.
Indirect Aims: Indirectly this lesson aims to open the children's eyes of God's love for us through his great light, Jesus; to help them give praise to God through remembering with this work; to fall in love with God and His Son, Jesus, and to deepen the meaning of Christmas, Jesus is our greatest gift.
Sources: Luke 2:1-7, 8-20
Materials for the Lesson:
Rug or table
Raised surface map
3-D model with figures, (Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Angel, Shepherds, sheep) stable and manger, or you can use a detailed icon of the Nativity.
Scripture booklet with Luke 2:1-20
Candle; matches; candle snuffer
Orthodox advent or nativity hymns, and song "Away in a Manger"
The Lesson Plan:
Invite the children to gather. Introduce the text. The catechist says, "Recall how we have been preparing for Christmas. Remember the prophecy of Bethlehem and how others waited before us. It happened as God said it would." Explain why they had to travel to Bethlehem. Find Nazareth and Bethlehem on the map. "Notice the distance." Remind them there were no cars, and the roads were rough.
"Today we will listen to an event that shows us how much God loves us. We are going to listen to a story from the Bible about the Nativity (a word for birth) of Jesus Christ our Lord."
Show the location of Nazareth and Bethlehem on the raised surface map. Say, "Mary & Joseph lived in the region of Galilee in a town called Nazareth. Jesus was born in the region of Judea in a town called Bethlehem."
Light the candle and read: Luke 2:1-20.
Meditate on and demonstrate of the text. "Who was the baby?" Bring out the materials and name each for the child. (i.e. "This reminds us of the place where Jesus was born.")
Say, "Let's listen again to this reading of the birth of Jesus." Read and explain/demonstrate in the following sections:
- Luke 2:1-5: Move Mary and Joseph.
- Luke 2:6-7: Put Jesus in manger.
Part 2: Adoration of the Shepherds:
- Luke 2:8: Set up shepherds and flock in the field.
- Luke 2:9-14: The Angel comes to the shepherds.
- Luke 2:15: The Angel departs.
- Luke 2:16: The shepherds go to Bethlehem.
- Luke 2:17-20: The shepherds depart.
Make the observation with the children that Joseph was Jesus' "earthly father." This shows the contrast of the greatness of the event verses the humbleness of the setting and of Mary.
Review what happened with the children. Ask a few simple questions, such as:
- "How long did people wait for the baby?"
- "How many angels did we hear from?"
- "Who was this baby?"
- "What was the news this baby would bring?"
- "Would you like to offer a prayer to Jesus?" (pause for the children's response)
Listen to Orthodox Advent or Nativity hymn and then sing a Christmas song such as "Silent Night" or "Away in The Manger."
Snuff the candle and say, "When you want to think about Jesus' birthday, you may choose this work and ask someone to read the story to you." Place figures and model back in their places.
The presentation itself
Free drawing, painting, sculpting
Tracing packet/booklet and selected verses
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/.