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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd - Level 1 Catechist Training at Saint Patrick - Saint Anthony Church
Nativity & Adoration of the Shepherds
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by Lori Andrada, November 2007

SUBJECT:  Infancy Narratives

TITLE:  The Nativity:  The Birth of Jesus and the Adoration of the Shepherds

AGE:  3+

SOURCES:  Lk 2:  1-20 , Religious Potential of the Child:  Chapter 6, Good Shepherd and the Child: Chapter 10, Catechism of the Catholic Church:  525, Materials Manual  

 

LITURGICAL TIME:  Advent or Christmas

 

DOCTRINAL CONTENT: 

  • God desires so much to be with us that God became human.
  • God is always with us.
  • Angels are messengers from God.  They often evoke an immediate response.
  • Jesus is fully human and fully divine—son of God and of Mary.
  • Mary is God-bearer even though she is a virgin.
  • Jesus is a descendant of the House of David.
  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a stable.
  • The great news of Jesus’ birth was first proclaimed to the common people—the shepherds.
  • Upon the news of the birth of Jesus everyone, the angels and shepherds, glorified and praised God.
  • The shepherds responded to the announcement of the angels by going to adore Jesus.
  • God does great things in small places with insignificant people (peripheral people of society).
  • The good news was (and is) for all humankind.

 

DIRECT AIM:

  • To lift up the story of the birth of Jesus by exploring the contrast between his divinity and the humbleness of his birth .
  • To lift up Jesus as human and divine.  (Question:  “Who is this child?”)

 

INDIRECT AIM:

  • To prepare for the celebration of Christmas.
  • To give a sense of salvation history.
  • To nurture prayer language.
  • To enhance participation in liturgy.
  • To nurture wonder and awe.
  • To lay a foundation of respect for our Judaic heritage.
  • To prepare for later infancy narratives.
  • To nurture a personal relationship with God.
  • To introduce the characters and the events in the Gospel account/narrative/story of Jesus’ coming into the world.
  • To re-introduce angels as messengers of God’s plan of salvation.
  • To announce Jesus as the Savior and Messiah promised by the prophets.
  • To give the story of the birth of Jesus an historical and geographical place.
  • To nurture a sense of trust in God.
  • To proclaim the joy in God’s work of the incarnation.

 

 

MATERIALS:

  • Diorama, triptych, or box, that can be opened, to suggest a stable.
  • Small piece of green felt circle to suggest the field where the shepherds were.
  • 4-5 ” figures:  Joseph, three shepherds, Mary, and an angel
  • Smaller figure:  Baby Jesus in a manger
  • Box or basket to hold the figures
  • Scripture booklet, including a map of Israel with a red, dashed line from Nazareth to a red dot at Bethlehem
  • [do this presentation nearby the topographical map] [[you want this nearby, but it’s not a material for this presentation]]
  • Tracing packet in a white folder, colored pencils and colored crayons.
  • Mat or presentation place.
  • Candle, matches, snuffer, and tray for spent matches

 

 

PRESENTATION TO THE CHILDREN:

Preparation:  set out a mat near the topographical map of the Land of Israel

 

Introduction:  We’re very close to celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We all know something about the time when Jesus was born.  What is something you can tell me about when Jesus was born?”

 

This is Nazareth, where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would have Jesus.  (Point to Nazareth on the 3-D map.)  Mary and Joseph had to travel all the way to Bethlehem through the hill country.  (Trace your finger from Nazareth to Bethlehem.)  That was a long way to go.

 

Solemn Reading of the Scripture:

Let’s listen to the scripture.  Take out scripture.  Light the candle.

 

Read the scripture booklet.  Show the pictures of the shepherds when you get to that page, after you have read the scripture.  Set down the scripture.

 

Meditation:

What did we hear?

 

We can wonder how it was for Mary to have her baby be born at that time and and that place.

 

We heard that there was a decree.  That’s a rule.

 

A census is when you count how many people there are.

 

Mary and Joseph were betrothed – they were promised in marriage to each other.

 

And, so Joseph and Mary traveled…I wonder how they got there.  It was a really long trip…. Mary was with child.  Jesus was inside of her.  We can wonder how that was for her. 

 

Jesus was born.  Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes - really warm tight clothes so he could feel warm and loved.

 

A manger is a place where animals eat.  I wonder how Mary felt to be putting her baby in a manger.

 

The angel came to speak to the shepherds, people who took care of  sheep in the fields.  What did the angel tell them?  Did he have any news for them?  (Read from the scripture booklet:  “News of great joy to be shared by the whole people.”  “A savior has been born to you he is…”)

 

What did the shepherds do?  They believed what the angel told him, didn’t they.

 

When they found Jesus, I wonder what they felt like.

 

Scripture Reading with the Materials:

(Set down the scripture booklet.  Take out basket and stable.  Put stable on the left hand corner of the mat next to you.)  You can think of this as the stable where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were.  (Lay the green felt at the other edge (diagonally across from the stable) of the mat.)  This can be the field where the shepherds were.  (Place 2-3 shepherds and 4 sheep in the field.  Place Joseph and Mary on the upper left hand corner of the mat.)  These are Mary and Joseph.

 

Let’s listen to this again.  (Read the scripture.)  “Now at this time Caesar…together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”  (Move Mary and Joseph to the stable.  Read the scripture.)  “While they were there the time came…because there was no room for them at the inn.”  (Move Mary and Joseph into the stable.  Put Jesus in the stable.  Read the scripture.) “The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them.”  (Add the angel.  Read scripture.)  “They were terrified, but the angel said,…and peace to men who enjoy his favor.”  (Move the angel.  Read the scripture.)  “Now when the angels had gone the shepherds said…and the baby lying in the manger.”  (Move the shepherds to the stable and finish reading the scripture.)

 

Silence

 

Meditation, continued:

It was exactly as they had been told.

 

I wonder how the shepherds had felt.  I wonder if they were surprised.

 

They went back glorifying and praising God.  That sounds pretty happy, doesn’t it.

 

We heard before that Jesus was the Son of the Most High, God’s own son, and yet he was born in a stable.

 

I wonder how Mary felt to lay her baby in a manger.

 

I wonder how Mary felt to hear the angels celebrate her baby’s birth.

 

We can wonder about the shepherds.  I wonder what they thought they would find.  I wonder.  We can wonder a long time about that.

 

Silence

 

Welcoming and Inviting a Response:

There’s a song that we often sing in church.  (Sing “O Come Let Us Adore Him.”  Sing it again, inviting the children to sing with you.)

 

Restoration of the Material:

This is your work.  You can use this whenever you like.  I’ll show you how to put it away.  We have a basket for all the people and animals.  (Invite children to help put them away.  Fold grass and put it in the stable.)  It goes here on the shelf.  (Show the children where you keep the materials on the shelf.)

 

CHILDREN’S WORK WITH THE MATERIAL:

  • Working with the figures and stable.
  • Tracing packet.
  • Reading the scripture.
  • Copying the scripture.
  • making own prayer card with “Glory to God in the Highest”
  • Original artwork.
  • Looking at the tracing cards or art cards/prints of the nativity with the catechist/assistant and having a gentle discussion, e.g. Who do you see here?  What was happening?  Do you have a favorite part?  Other comments could be guided by your doctrinal content, e.g., recalling the wonderful words of the angels, wondering what it was like for the shepherds, Mary, etc…

 

RESPONSE OF THE CHILDREN:

 

 

 

 

CGS Level 1 Catechist Training