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Special Messengers

Messages from angels

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools


To think about angels and the role they played in the Christmas story.

Preparation and materials

  • Optional: prepare slides with pictures of the angel appearing to Mary, for example
  • Optional: prepare slides pictures of the angels appearing to the shepherds, for example
  • Optional: display the questions in the Refection section below.


1. Introduce the assembly by saying that, in the worship today, we are going to be thinking about sending and receiving messages. Ask the pupils to turn to the person next to them and to spend two minutes discussing how many different ways they can think of for sending messages.

Listen to some responses.

2. Explain that in many places in the Bible God gives messages to people, but he does not send them a text or put a message on Facebook! One of the ways God sends messages is by sending an angel – a sort of heavenly messenger. In the Christmas story there are four messages that are given to different people by angels.
An angel tells an old man, Zechariah, that his wife Elizabeth is going to have a baby. Elizabeth is Mary’s cousin.
The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is going to have a baby.
An angel tells Joseph that Mary’s baby is a special baby from God, and that they should call him Jesus.
Several angels tell some shepherds on a hillside that they should go and visit the baby Jesus.

3. We are going to hear what two of those messages said in a bit more detail now.
In the first story, the Angel Gabriel visits Mary.

Display picture, if using.

God sent the Angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee called Nazareth to give a message to a young girl called Mary.
‘Hello Mary! You’re a very honoured young lady – the Lord is with you! Don’t be afraid – God has got a special job for you. You’re going to have a baby and his name will be Jesus. He will also be called Son of the Most High God. God will make him a king, like his ancestor David, but he will be a special King whose kingdom goes on forever!
I know that you are not married yet, but God’s Holy Spirit will come upon you and your baby will be the Son of God. If this seems impossible, I’ve got something else to tell you: your cousin Elizabeth, who is very old, is also pregnant! With God nothing is impossible!’
Mary was surprised and confused, but she said to the angel, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.’

4. In the second story angels appear to some shepherds with a special message for them.

Display picture, if using.

Some shepherds were out on the hillside near Bethlehem looking after their sheep when, suddenly, a bright light appeared in the sky and an angel spoke to them. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the angel said. ‘I’m bringing you some good news - good news for all people. Today a special baby, your Saviour, has been born in Bethlehem. If you go there, you will find this baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly the sky became even brighter until it seemed to be full of angels. They were all singing this song: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased.’
When the angels had gone, the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem and found the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph, just as the angel had said.

Time for reflection

Those were both pretty special messages that the angels brought, so let’s have a little think about some of the things they said. Turn to the person next to you and have a go at answering these questions.

Display questions, if using.

  • Why do you think the angels’ messages to both Mary and the shepherds started with the words ‘Don’t be afraid?’
  • Why do you think the message about the birth of Jesus was given to ordinary people like shepherds, not to more important people like rulers or kings?
  • From listening to these two stories, what would you say was the special message about Christmas?

Listen to some responses.

One of the names given to Jesus elsewhere in the Bible is ‘Emmanuel’. We sometimes see this word written on Christmas cards. ‘Emmanuel’ is a word that has its own message: it means ‘God is with us’. At this exciting and busy time of year, when we are all involved in so many Christmas preparations, it would be good to pause occasionally and think about what we are really celebrating.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the special message the angel gave to Mary.
Thank you for all the excitement of Christmas.
Please help us to always remember that we are celebrating the birth Jesus at this time of year.
Thank you that Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us.


‘The Angel Gabriel’ by Chrissy Pepper (Thankyou Music, 2003)

Publication date: December 2015   (Vol.17 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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