Angels watching over me
To think about Godís care for us through the ministry of angels.
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Key Stage 1
To think about God’s care for us through the ministry of angels.
Preparation and materials
- A sheep or lamb soft toy (optional).
- Prepare the introduction to ‘The shepherds’ story’ (see section 3).
- The story of the shepherds (Luke 2.8–16) from the Bible or a children’s retelling.
- The Bible reference for guardian angels is Matthew 18.10 (see section 5).
- The word ‘angel’ comes from the Greek word angelus, which means ‘messenger’.
- Talk to the children about going to bed on a cold winter’s night.
Who has fleecy pyjamas, a hot water bottle, a thick duvet, an electric blanket?
Who likes listening to the wind howling round the chimney and the rain pattering on the window?
- Explain that some people have night jobs. When it’s time for us to get ready for bed, it’s time for them to get their coats on and go out to work.
Discuss the types of jobs night workers might do.
- Set the scene for the shepherds’ story.
A long time ago, in the hills around a small town called Bethlehem, some night workers were sitting by a fire trying to keep warm. They were shepherds. It was their job to keep their sheep and lambs safe during the night. They had to round up all their sheep after a day of eating grass on the hills and count them to make sure none were missing.
Each night, the shepherds would lead their sheep into a sheepfold to keep them safe. A sheepfold is a shelter with walls but no roof. The walls were made of stones or thorn branches. There was a gap in one wall for an entrance. When all the sheep were safely inside, one of the shepherds would lie or sit at the entrance to stop the sheep escaping or wild animals getting in.
The shepherds would light a fire outside this sheepfold and stay there all night, keeping watch. Maybe they would take it in turns to keep a lookout while their fellow shepherds had a snooze, or chatted, and tended the fire. It would get very cold in the hills at night and the shepherds would pull their coats and blankets round their shoulders and huddle near the fire for warmth.
On this particular night everything was quiet as usual. The stars were out. The sheep were still and sleeping. But something extraordinary was about to happen. Something that was going to change the world for ever and ever.
- Ask the children if they know what it was.
(Read the story.)
- You can just imagine the shepherds’ excitement. They jumped up, pulled their coats round them, stamped out the fire and began to run towards Bethlehem.
But wait a minute! Didn’t they forget something? What about the sheep?
Who was going to stay with the sheep?
Let the children come up with suggestions. There is no right answer but we are going to surmise that none of the shepherds would want to miss out on this birth and that they could hardly take all the sheep with them! Hopefully, a child may suggest that one of the angels stayed with the sheep and guarded them.
- This would lead you on nicely to say that the Bible tells us that we are God’s sheep and that he has given each of us a guardian angel to watch over us and protect us.
Time for reflection
Think about the dark night on the hills. Think about these sheep all on their own, with no one to look after them. Think about the things that could go wrong.
Now think about the joyful multitude of angels. They could do the job, no trouble at all!
Dear Father God,
thank you that you love me more than a sheep.
You have even given me a guardian angel to watch over me day and night.
Thank you that the good news about Jesus’ birth is for me, too,
and that if I had been on the hills that night
you would have invited me to come down to Bethlehem.
Thank you for making sure that I’ve heard this wonderful news, too.
Either ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ (widely available) or one of your favourite Christmas carols.