Friday, December 11, 2009

Multitude of Paper Angels

My goal in this lesson is to teach kids about praising God and an important part of the message of Christmas, how God made it so that mankind could be reconciled to Him. It sounds like a lofty subject for kids, but surprisingly, it can be simplified and illustrated...

I made a paper angel for each child using two small basket-style coffee filters, one Kleenex and ~15 inches of narrow gold ribbon (the kind you curl). You'll also need a blue pen to draw the eyes and a red pen to draw the mouth.

Fold one filter in half, and fan fold every 1/4" beginning with the long straight edge. Tie the ribbon around its middle. Wad the Kleenex into a tight ball and enclose it in the middle of the second filter (making a head and body). Attach the wings by tying the ribbon tightly between the head and body of the angel. Spread out the wings. Draw the eyes and mouth. Tie the ends of the ribbon to make a loop and trim the ends.
Read aloud from Luke 2:8-14:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(I usually use a full-color illustrated children's New Testament [link at left], reading upside down, so they can see the pictures. It helps focus their attention! But most kids know the King James version of this passage from the Charlie Brown Christmas show, so quote it even if you show pictures from a different Bible.)

You all have heard that story before haven't you? (nods) What night did that story happen? (the first Christmas, the night Jesus was born) That's right!

I know a multitude of angels appeared to the shepherds, but how many is that? How many is a multitude? Is it twelve? If there were twelve kids in one of your Sunday school classrooms, it would start to feel crowded wouldn't it? It would feel like a multitude was in there. Raise your hand if you think a multitude is about twelve angels.

How about twelve times twelve? What does that equal? (kids answer or ask the congregation for help) Right, one hundred forty four. If there were one hundred forty four people in church today, it would really be crowded wouldn't it? (nods) It would feel like a multitude was in here. Raise your hand if you think a multitude is about one hundred forty four angels.

Multitude means crowd, and a crowd can be different numbers. It depends on how much space you have. So how much space did the shepherds have? Were they in a building or outside?(outside) Were they in the city or out in the country? (out in the country) So they had space as far as the eye could see, didn't they? They had tons of space--all filled with angels! So how many angels appeared to the shepherds? Let's hear some guesses. (responses) At least hundreds or thousands, right? Maybe even tens of thousands of angels!

One of the angels was the messenger--he told the shepherds the Good News about Jesus, the Savior, Christ the Lord. And what were the other thousands of angels doing? (praising God) Wow! Thousands and thousands of angels just praising God! That's a lot of praise! Do you like to receive praise when you do a good job? (nods) Well, you know what? So does God, and He really did a great job on the night Jesus was born. What was the great thing God did? I mean what was so good about the Good News?

I'm going to teach you a ten dollar word: (count the sylables on your fingers while saying it) reconciliation--six sylables--wow! It takes fourteen letters just to spell that word--reconciliation. Here's what it means: (fold hands together) In the beginning God was with us--where? (the garden of Eden) Then we sinned, and God sent us away--we were apart from God (spread hands far apart, one hand high and one hand low). Then Jesus was born, and suddenly we all get the chance to be with God again (bring hands together again)--where? (in Heaven) That's reconciliation: (repeat the hand motions) we were together with God, then our sin parted us from God, and now Jesus brings us back together with God. Reconciliation--let me hear you say it (let them practice). Now that's really something to praise God for!

I have here in my Christmas bag a multitude of angels. I know it is a multitude because they are very crowded in there! Each of you may take one angel. You can hang it on your tree at home or hang it on the angel tree here at church. Let it remind you to praise God.

In our prayer today let's praise God, like the angels: Dear God, great job! We love what You did on the first Christmas night! You gave us reconciliation with You, through Jesus. You brought us back together with You! Awesome! May we praise You forever and ever, just like your angels in heaven! In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

And may God bless you all in your service to Him. Merry Christmas :-}