by Pat Franklin
I would like to share something we did in Sunday School today. It was my turn to teach the small group of children and about a week earlier, I asked the Lord what He wanted.
To my surprise, I got the idea of making an outline map of Israel with string on the floor, big enough for the kids to walk around, and putting the place names in it. I had wanted to do something in the gospel of Matthew, but no, the Lord just put the idea of Luke 1 in my head, and so the lesson all came together, with the children playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zacharias and the Angel Gabriel. Here follows the gist of our lesson.
Dec 5, 2010 Sunday School – Luke 1 – Today we will take a walk around Israel and we will go back in time. Memory work, v34 and 37:Mary: ‘How shall this be?’Angel Gabriel: ‘With God nothing shall be impossible.’ Goals:
- to better understand the amazing events of the Nativity, beginning this week with the birth of John the Baptist.
- To better understand the geography of Israel in which these events took place.
- To get to know the people better
- To understand that these events were historical, happening to real people.
Items to bring: tape, string, words printed out naming the people, the angel and the places in Israel. Names to print out – we used 72pt type: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Gabriel, John, Angel Gabriel. Place names to print out – Nazareth, Jerusalem, City of Judah in the hill country, Mediterranean Sea, Lake of Galilee.
Before the class, using the whole floor area, we made an outline shape of Israel on the floor with tape and string. When the kids came in, they looked at a map of Israel we had taken from off the Internet, and found out where to put the names of the towns etc. Using masking tape, they taped down the names of ‘Nazareth’ and ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘’A city of Judah in the hill country’(v39).
We did a walk around Israel, and they ran from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back, and ‘swam’ in the Mediterranean, and generally got some idea of where things are in Israel. We would have taped some foil down for the Lake of Galilee, but we had run out of foil. We put a sign ‘Nazareth to Jerusalem - 131 miles’ on tape on the floor. Then we took a walk around Israel, God’s special land. They also learned the directions – north, south, east and west.
Then we started Luke Chapter 1. We had five volunteers with name tags. ‘Mary’ and ‘Joseph’ stood up by Nazareth, ‘Zacharias’ stood by Jerusalem, and his wife ‘Elizabeth’ stood by the ‘City of Judah in the hill country’ while we read from Luke 1 and talked about what was happening. We are not told in the Bible what town Elizabeth and Zacharias lived in, but Judah was down south, so we put ‘City of Judah in the hill country’ near Jerusalem.
We pretended our broom cupboard was the Holy Place in the Temple, and ‘Zacharias’ went in. It was his turn as a priest of Israel to serve in the Temple, in the secret Holy Place, to go in all by himself and offer incense to God. But he found the Angel Gabriel inside! Gabriel and Zacharias had their conversation (which we read out, paraphrasing it, with the children repeating their lines after us) while we all watched. When ‘Zacharias’ came out, he was mute, because he had not believed Gabriel’s message. The little boy playing Zacharias took this to heart and actually did not make another sound until he was meant to!
In the Bible account, about six months later, the Angel Gabriel went up north to Mary and gave his message to her. Mary became pregnant with the Lord Jesus. Next Mary went down south to see Elizabeth, who was by then six months’ pregnant. In our class ‘Mary’ ran down the floor map and we read the wonderful exchange they had. The ‘Elizabeth’ girl by then had a pillow under her top, and she made it ‘leap for joy’ when Mary arrived.
Mary stayed for three months with Elizabeth, and by then her pregnancy was beginning to show, so the ‘Mary’ girl put a small object under her top and then went back up north to Nazareth. Elizabeth had a baby boy ( we were going to use a real baby boy, but he had fallen asleep) and we read from verse 59 about naming the baby. Zacharias was still mute, and Elizabeth said he should be named John. Zacharias then wrote ‘John’ on a bit of paper, and then was able to speak again. Then we talked about Zacharias’ prophecy and how John would go before Jesus and prepare people for Him.
We left the 'Map of Israel' on the floor for next Sunday, when the lesson will carry on to Bethlehem. After the class, even the adults were looking at the map, some of them saying it made the events much more real to them as well! They had never realised the distances involved.
At our church four of us take turns doing the Sunday School once a month. We don't follow any set plan, because we are a unique church, and the Lord deals with us as He sees fit. This was the most successful lesson of all those I have done, partly because the kids could move around and use their imaginations and take part in the role playing. And for me the lesson today was loud and clear - always ask the Lord what He wants, instead of just doing what I think!