The stable lamb
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1
To enjoy a story of Christmas.
Preparation and materials
- Choose a carol to sing at the end of the assembly.
Tell the following story.
The stable lamb
It was growing dark on the hillside. Isaac, the shepherd, rounded up his sheep and secured them in the fold for the night. The other shepherds had already lit a fire and now they sat around it together as the last light faded in the west. Skip, the youngest lamb, loved this time of day. He lay at Isaac’s feet and dozed off to the reassuring murmur of gentle voices hanging in the still air.
Isaac had cared for Skip since he was tiny, when his mother had died soon after he had been born. It was Isaac who had hand-reared him, Isaac who had carried him in his big arms and Isaac who had helped him to grow big and strong. Skip loved his master.
‘I’m going to call you Skip’, Isaac had announced one day as he laughed at the little lamb skipping about on the hillside on wobbly legs.
The other sheep didn’t bother much with Skip. He was too energetic and adventurous for them. They would huddle together, following one another, this way and that, that way and this, eating and sleeping, and sleeping and eating.
‘Life is too exciting to sleep,’ Skip would bleat. ‘Come and explore!’ but rarely did he have any takers for his offer.
The air was still tonight, the sky very black. Skip dozed at Isaac’s feet to the soft crackling of the fire and the gentle conversation of the shepherds. Suddenly, a huge, bright light appeared in front of them – what looked like an enormous, shimmering giant of whiteness. The shepherds were terrified and shepherds don’t scare easily. Even Skip scampered under Isaac’s robe.
‘Do not be afraid!’ commanded a powerful yet somehow reassuring voice that caused Skip to peep out from under the folds of Isaac’s robe. ‘I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you: he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
At that, the whole sky was suddenly filled with angels, hundreds of them, thousands of them, all shimmering in a white radiance. The singing, as they praised God, was awesome. Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, they were gone.
For a moment the shepherds were speechless, but no longer afraid. Skip noticed, however, that the sheep in the pen were still cowering together, shaking in terror.
‘Let’s go to Bethlehem’, said Isaac. Skip was up for that adventure, as you can imagine. ‘No, no!’ bleated the sheep with one voice. ‘Come and be safe in the pen with us. You don’t know what you’ll find down there in Bethlehem. It’s perhaps a trap!’
Skip laughed and ran after the already departing figures of the shepherds. ‘Just you stay safe,’ he shouted. ‘I’ll be back to tell you all about it.’
As the little band of shepherds drew near to Bethlehem, they saw an unusually bright star in the night sky. It seemed to hang, as though suspended, over a building – a stable as it turned out to be. ‘Go on in’, it seemed to be saying to them.
Isaac pushed the door gently open and was surprised to find a young couple resting among the animals. That was when Skip first saw the baby – a tiny little baby boy, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
The shepherds introduced themselves and sat down in the hay with Mary and Joseph. They told the young couple all about the light on the hillside, all about the messenger from heaven, all about the host of angels, all about the singing and all about the message of a Saviour being born in Bethlehem. There was joy and excitement in their voices as they pondered and discussed what all this might mean.
Skip had eyes only for the baby. He was so beautiful, so tiny, with the gentlest and kindest and most innocent of eyes. As the little lamb stared at Mary and Joseph’s tiny newly born son, it was as though he was looking into the future, into the face of another shepherd, into the face of someone who would love all people just as Isaac had loved him.
Skip gave a little bleat. ‘Little one, I think you are going to be a shepherd when you are older, a very good shepherd.’ The tiny baby raised his eyes and smiled at him.
For Church schools
Skip was right. Jesus did become a shepherd, but not of sheep, of people. Skip, the orphaned lamb, had needed the kind and loving shepherd Isaac to love him and protect him. Christians believe that people also need a shepherd to watch over and guide us through life. That shepherd is Jesus.
Time for reflection
What do you think Skip told the sheep when he returned from Bethlehem?
Do you think they believed him?
Do you think they might have wished that they had gone, too?
Thank you for this very good news, which we are reminded of at Christmastime.
Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus.
Please watch over us today.
The chosen carol.