The fourth Sunday of Advent is already upon us. This Sunday at Fillmore Kids, we will learn that Jesus is our Immanuel – God with us. We will also be sending a special “Immanuel” message to those in Newtown, Connecticut, as you will read at the conclusion of the lesson. God is with us, even when we don’t see or feel Him. Let that be our proclamation this Christmas.
Goal: Today we will learn that God sent Jesus as a gift to everyone to show that He is with us.
Key Scripture: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’” – which means ‘God with us.’” – Matthew 1:23
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- 1 completed nativity sticker page
- Cards 13-16 from “The First Christmas” Flash-A-Card set from Series 1 of the “Life of Christ,” published by A Beka Book
- Wrapping supplies (wrapping paper, tape, scissors, etc.)
- CD player
- CD of Christmas music
- Coffee filters
- Construction paper
Introduction: Ahead of time, complete one of the nativity sticker pages the children completed last week. Use this completed page to review the Christmas story with the children.
Lesson: Hold up card 13 (a picture of the shepherds sitting out in the fields). Remind the children that these were the first people who heard that Jesus had been born. Ask:
- Who are these people?
- What do shepherds do?
Ask the children to imagine that they are shepherds out in the fields with the sheep on that night long, long ago. Ask:
- What do you heard? See? Smell?
- What do you feel? (Talk about how peaceful it can feel out under the stars at night)
- How would you feel if all of a sudden an army of angels appeared?
Hold up card 14 (a picture of the angels appearing to the shepherds). Explain that even though the angels were good and didn’t want to hurt the shepherds, they still startled the shepherds! Tell the children that the Bible tells us that the shepherds were terrified. They had no idea what was going on! Tell the children that the angel of the Lord told them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news.” Ask:
- What was the good news?
- What happened after the angels left?
Hold up card 15 (a picture of the shepherds running toward Bethlehem). Explain that the shepherds went looking for the baby, one wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, just as the angels had said.
Hold up card 16 (a picture of the shepherds with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in the stable). Ask:
- How do you think the shepherds felt when they saw baby Jesus?
Explain that the shepherds must have felt honored to have been the first people to be told about the birth of baby Jesus. Tell the children that God could have sent the angels to tell the good news to the priests or the king or the rich merchants. Instead, God sent the angels to ordinary shepherds. Ask:
- Why do you think God chose the shepherds to be the first people to hear about Jesus’ birth?
Explain that God sent Jesus for everyone, not just for rich or famous people. By sending the angels to the shepherds, God showed that Jesus is God’s gift for everyone.
Play “Pass the Present.” Ahead of time, mark the verse Matthew 1:23 in a Bible using a sticky note. Wrap the Bible in several layers of wrapping paper. Have the children sit in a circle and hand a child the gift. Explain that when the music is playing the children are to pass the gift around the circle. When the music stops, the person who is holding the gift unwraps one layer of the gift. Continue until the final layer is unwrapped. Whoever unwraps the last layer should open the Bible to the marked passage and read it aloud.
Explain that it is very special to have God with us. Emphasize that God is with us all the time, no matter what. Then, tell the children that something very sad happened in a school in Newtown, Connecticut last week. A sick man came to a school and hurt a lot of people. Explain that the children and families in Newtown are very sad because of what happened and, even though it’s Christmastime, they might not feel like God is with them. Tell the children that they can do something to help.
Tell the children that, right now, the school building reminds the children of the bad thing that happened, but some people from the town are trying to turn the school into a winter wonderland, so that when the kids come back to school it will feel like a whole new place, one that doesn’t remind them of the bad things that happened. Explain that we are going to make snowflakes and main them to the school to help with the winter wonderland.
Conclusion: Spend the remaining time making snowflakes out of coffee filters. Also, make a card using construction paper to accompany the snowflakes and have the children sign it. Our card includes a message that says: “Today in Sunday school we learned that Immanuel, one of Jesus’ names, means “God with us.” We learned that God is always with us, even when it seems like He isn’t there. We pray that these snowflakes will help to brighten Sandy Hook Elementary School and remind you that God is with you.” We also included a verse: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” – Psalm 34:18a
If you would like more information on the snowflake drive for Sandy Hook Elementary School, check out this article.
Note: Portions of this lesson were adapted from Gospel Sermons for Children, published by Augsburg (1995).