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The shepherd's story

Not everyone who is important is rich and powerful

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To look at the role the shepherds played in the Nativity in a different way.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two people to play Shepherd 1 and Shepherd 2 – they can each wear a tea towel on their head as a costume if you wish.
  • Have available ‘He shall feed his flock’ from Handel’s Messiah and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.

Assembly

Shepherd 1 rushes in. Crikey! I’ve left the sheep on the hill and James is taking his time. He’s getting on a bit. Anyway, oh, and I’ve left the sheep on the hill! I just had to go! They made me – something they said just made sense, what they were saying must have been true. It was an ordinary night, bit nippy, sheep just grazing, James and I and the stars and then, suddenly, out of nowhere  . . .

Shepherd 2 enters halfway through, catching his breath. There he was, floating. I did wonder if it was the beer, but then he spoke – ‘Do not be afraid!’ I thought, easy for you mate! Both of us just stared! I looked over and we were both like fish out of water!

Shepherd 1 ‘I bring you news of great joy. Today in the town of David (that’s Bethlehem) a saviour has been born to you.’ He was telling us something amazing! Could this be the Saviour promised us? The Messiah that we have waited so long for and been told so much about?

Shepherd 2 I was terrified, I couldn’t listen and I just hid. When I looked out again, there were more of them. As far as the eye could see! Singing praises to God – it was the most beautiful sound. I knew then not to be afraid and that we had to go.

Shepherd 1 Both of us left the sheep and ran, as fast as we could.

Shepherd 2 Which isn’t that fast for some of us!

Shepherd 1 We got to the town and tried to catch our breath. We knew that we had to find the stable. Imagine, the Messiah, in a stable!

Shepherd 2 Suddenly, John saw and we both just stood. At the end of a quiet alley was the stable. We edged forwards, neither of us wanting to go in first. Then courage, anticipation and hope grabbed us both and we took a deep breath.

Shepherd 1 There they were. The baby, in the manger. His mother kneeling, looking tenderly at her son, and his father, standing protectively over them both. We knew then that what the angels had told us was true. 

Shepherd 2 The family looked so peaceful and happy. We sat with them, marvelling about what had happened.

Shepherd 1 Then we came away – bursting with joy at what we had seen. I can’t wait to tell everyone. Glory to the Lord!

Shepherd 2 Amazing! I just hope people will believe the good news!

Time for reflection

Leader  So, you see, the first people who came to see Jesus weren’t the rich and powerful of Bethlehem, but they were important nevertheless. Even though they were humble shepherds, working in the field. People who spent their days outside with their animals.

This highlights what Jesus’ role was to become – to seek out the poor and those whom society does not necessarily value and give them a key role in his Kingdom.

The shepherds’ story also links with the fact that Jesus calls himself a shepherd, because he leads his people and tends to them like a shepherd looks after his flock. Christians believe that Jesus will lead them through their lives and teach them the right way to live so that eventually they will join with him and God in heaven.

The shepherds show us that Jesus is there for everyone and everyone is important. 

Prayer
Dear Lord,
Thank you for showing us that your Son came at Christmas for everyone. 
That he leads us, as a shepherd, and, if we follow him, ultimately we will meet with you.
Amen.

Hymn

‘While shepherds watched their flocks’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 827, 2008 edition)

Music

‘He shall feed his flock’ from Handel’s Messiah

Publication date: December 2013   (Vol.15 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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