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Angels at Christmas

Do you believe in angels?

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools

Aims

To consider the angels in the Christmas story as messengers.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need five large cards printed with the following words.

    Card 1: An angel visits Zechariah and tells him that his wife, Elizabeth, who is Mary’s cousin, is going to have a baby.
    Card 2: An angel visits Mary and tells her that she is going to have a baby.
    Card 3: An angel visits Joseph and tells him that he should still marry Mary because her baby is sent from God.
    Card 4: A group of angels tell the shepherds about the good news of the birth of baby Jesus.
    Card 5: An angel warns Joseph that King Herod wants to harm baby Jesus and tells Joseph to run away to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.

  • You will also need the following images of angels and the means to display them during the assembly:

    - the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary (The Annunciation) by Henry Ossawa Tanner, available at: http://tinyurl.com/zvatw9a
    - the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary (The Annunciation) by John Collier, available at: http://tinyurl.com/gv9cpqk
    - The Annunciation of the Angels to the Shepherds by Benjamin Gerritz, available at: http://tinyurl.com/hsktwlo
    - The Angel Gabriel Appearing to the Shepherds
     by Alfred Morgan, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jh3xklr

Assembly

  1. Remind the children that Christmas is on its way! Ask a few of them to share what they like most about Christmastime.

  2. Explain that you are going to ask three questions that you would like the children to discuss with the people seated next to them.

    - Do you believe in angels?
    - What do you think angels might do?
    - What do you think angels might look like?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Many religions talk about angels. Christians believe that angels are God’s special messengers and, in the Christmas story, angels bring special messages to various people.

    Ask five children to come to the front and give them each a card at random. Ask the children to stand in a line in the correct chronological order for these events from the Christmas story.

  4. There are many ways in which we might send someone a message, such as by phone, letter or text, or on Facebook. In the Christmas story, angels were the messengers who brought very surprising news!

  5. First, an angel called the angel Gabriel appeared to a man called Zechariah to tell him that his wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a baby. This was a big surprise, especially because Elizabeth was already an old lady! Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin.

    Second, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she was going to have a baby sent from God. This was surprising because Mary was very young and wasn’t yet married. The angel’s message went something like this: ‘Hello, Mary! You’re a very honoured young lady – the Lord is with you! Don’t look so scared – God has 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 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!’

    Third, an angel appeared to Joseph, telling him to marry Mary and look after both her and the baby.

    Fourth, a large number of angels appeared to some shepherds on a hillside outside Bethlehem, announcing that baby Jesus had been born. The shepherds were frightened at first, but after the angels had gone, the shepherds hurried off to find the newborn baby.

    Fifth, an angel appeared again to Joseph, telling him that he needed to run away to Egypt because King Herod wanted to harm baby Jesus. Joseph did what the angel said and only returned home after Herod had died and he was certain that Jesus would be safe.

Time for reflection

Angels played a key role in the Christmas story. Many people have tried to represent the appearance of angels in paintings.

Show the following images of Mary and the angel Gabriel:

- The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, available at: http://tinyurl.com/zvatw9a
The Annunciation by 
John Collier, available at: http://tinyurl.com/gv9cpqk

Ask the children to look at the paintings for a moment and consider which they like best and why.

You may wish to listen to a range of responses.

Show the following images of the shepherds and the angels:

The Annunciation of the Angels to the Shepherds by Benjamin Gerritz, available at: http://tinyurl.com/hsktwlo
The Angel Gabriel Appearing to the Shepherds by Alfred Morgan, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jh3xklr

Ask the children to look at the paintings for a moment and consider which they like best and why.

You may wish to listen to a range of responses.

Do you believe in angels? Well, whether you believe in them or not, they certainly played a key role in the Christmas story and we will all see angels decorating Christmas trees in the next few weeks!

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for the special message that the angel gave to Mary.
Thank you for sending Jesus into the world.
Please help us to remember Jesus in all of our celebrations this Christmas.
Amen.

Song/music

‘The angel Gabriel’ by Chrissy Pepper (Thankyou Music, 2003, on the It’s Christmas!’ CD released by Children’s Ministry)

Publication date: December 2016   (Vol.18 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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