'Hello, Scruff!' - a Christmas story
The new king – a Christmas story
by the Revd Sylvia Burgoyne
Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1 - Church Schools
To retell the Christmas story with a focus on the poverty of Jesus’ birth.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a glove puppet or sock puppet of a donkey, called Scruff.
- As the assembly begins, ensure that you already have Scruff the puppet on your hand.
- Scruff waves to the children. Encourage them to say, ‘Hello, Scruff!’
If this is the first time the children have met Scruff, you will need to use the following introduction.
Scruff lives on a farm with Lucy Jane, her mum, Mrs B, and her dad, Farmer Brown. Lucy Jane loves Scruff. She looks after him. She plays with him and she talks to him – when she’s happy and when she’s sad. Scruff is her best friend!
- Scruff is very tired today. It was still dark last night when Lucy Jane came running into the stable. ‘Wake up, Scruff! Wake up! It's happened at last. Mum has had her baby. I've got a new brother and we're going to call him Tom. I wish you could come and see him. He's lovely.’
Ask the children, ‘Have any of you got a baby brother or sister? What are they called?’
Scruff could hear Lucy Jane's dad calling her to come back to bed. ‘I'm coming, Dad. I just wanted Scruff to know the good news.’ As she ran out of the stable, she turned around and whispered to Scruff, ‘Perhaps you'll be able to peep through the kitchen door tomorrow and see the baby.’
- So, this morning, when Lucy Jane's mum was sitting in her rocking chair by the fire, Lucy Jane opened the door just enough for Scruff to pop his head around and see her new baby brother.
‘Isn't he lovely, Scruff?’
‘Hee-haw! Hee-haw!’ agreed Scruff. Mrs B laughed!
Take Scruff off.
- God’s messenger, the angel Gabriel, had been very busy. He had gone to talk to a young woman called Mary in a town called Nazareth.
He told her that she was to have a very special baby – God’s son – and she was to call him, Jesus.
Mary was amazed! Was she dreaming? She was going to marry Joseph, the carpenter. What would he think when she told him she was going to have a baby?
She needn’t have worried because Gabriel spoke to Joseph, too. What did he think? ‘Could this really be true? Had God really chosen Mary to be the mother of this special baby?’
Ask the children, ‘When might your teacher or your mum or dad need someone to help them? If they choose you to do a job, do you say, “Yes”? Perhaps you would rather play out or finish what you are busy doing?’
- Mary and Joseph both listened to God’s message and knew they were safe to do what God had planned.
- At the time when the baby was soon due to be born, the Roman Emperor wanted to know the names of all the people he ruled in Palestine. So, he ordered them to return to the town where they had been born to put their names on a register. It meant Joseph had to make the long journey to Bethlehem with Mary, his wife. He took great care of her, gently lifting her on to the donkey’s back each day.
The donkey carried her safely to Bethlehem, but, oh dear, what a lot of people there were everywhere! All the inns were full.
A kind innkeeper showed Joseph where he could put his donkey for the night. ‘Perhaps, you and your wife could rest here, too, in the clean straw’, he said. Mary looked so tired that he wanted to do something to help. So, Mary, Joseph and the donkey settled down to sleep in the stable.
Later that night, the baby king was born, right there in the stable among the animals. Mary named him Jesus, just as the angel had said.
Time for reflection
Think about Mary, having her baby there in the stable. I don’t think any of you were born in those conditions! Let’s think today about babies being born in poorer parts of the world, without the medical help that Lucy Jane’s mum had.
This Christmastime, help us to remember children who have nowhere safe and warm to sleep.
‘The Virgin Mary had a baby boy’ (Come and Praise, 121)