Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-22
Memory Verse: “Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows.” Isaiah 9:2 CEV
1. God leads us to Jesus.
2. Jesus is the light of the world.
3. We are called to offer our gifts to Jesus.
1. The children will retell the story of the Wise Men through a costumed pantomime using a shadow screen to show how God can lead us to Jesus and that we are called to offer gifts.
2. The children will understand and demonstrate through the use of shadows and light that Jesus is the light of the world.
Welcome and Introductions:
1. Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag. Make sure the children are wearing nametags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week that may not know you.
2. Explain the purpose of this workshop. We will retell the story of the Wise Men by acting it out in pantomime using a shadow screen. We will take turns so that everyone gets to be an actor and an audience member. The audience will only see the shadows, not the actors.
Review the Bible story. The first two weeks, read the story aloud to the children as they follow along in their bibles. The last few weeks, have the children tell you the story from what they remember from their previous rotations. You can fill in details or parts they leave out or have forgotten or mixed up, etc. Or for older children, you may have them look it up and paraphrase what happened first, next, last - again, filling in details where necessary to keep the story straight.
First talk about the story: How did the Wise Men know about Jesus? (They saw His star and came to ask about it.) Who were the Wise Men? Where did they come from? (They came from the east, probably Persia or Babylon. They were probably astrologers or experts at interpreting dreams; they were probably not kings.) What kind of gifts did they bring? (gold, frankincense and myrrh) Why were they bringing gifts? (To honor Jesus, because Jesus is the king of the Jews.) How did they find Jesus? (Herod gave them directions to Bethlehem after he consulted his chief priests to find out himself where the Messiah was to be born.)Where did the star come from? What does the star mean? (The star was God working miraculously through nature and symbolizes Christ as the light of the world.) Did they go home the same way they came? Why or why not? (No, they went a different way to avoid Herod.) Let kids offer ideas/answers, filling in details and/or correct information as needed.
Establish one side of the room as the East-where the Wise Men will start and the other side as Bethlehem-where the Baby Jesus is. (The manger should be behind the curtain on the Bethlehem side of the stage.)
Practice (all) together walking as the Wise Men. Remind the children that in pantomime (acting without words) their movements and gestures need to be very big and exaggerated even more so with the shadow screen. The walk can meander a bit, following a curving path. Practice stopping to confer, with large gestures, as if trying to decide which way to go and finally pointing up to the (imaginary at this point) star. Conferring, gesturing and pointing should occur several times on the walk.
Next, tell children about the shadow screen rules: To make a shadow, they must be in between the light and the screen (closer to the screen, but never touching it. The shadows are clearest when the performers are close to the screen; farther from the screen the shadows get fuzzy.) They can watch their own shadows to make sure they don't get too crowded or look like a blob. They'll need to spread out a bit as they perform.
Now divide the children into 2-3 groups depending on how many children are there. The smallest number in a group could be three (the three Wise Men), the maximum 6-8. With a group of 6-8, you would have the three Wise Men, Mary, Joseph, and a shepherd or two, or perhaps a cow or sheep. The Wise Men are the only characters that get to do much moving. Mary and Joseph may nod or use another gesture to acknowledge gifts, may lean over and check on Baby Jesus, or other similar sorts of things. Some one may also be designated to hold the star in the sky for the Wise Men to follow.
Ask one group to get their costumes and take their places on the stage. They will then pantomime the story as you narrate by reading (or paraphrasing) the story from the bible. The other group(s) will sit on the floor to be the audience. (Remind them to use their good audience manners.) When the first group has finished, they remove the costumes and the next group gets ready to go. (If time allows, let each group have a second turn, letting different children take the parts of the Wise Men.)
When all groups have performed, have children put the costumes away and gather on the floor for journaling and closing.
Older children: You may have one of the children narrate the story from the Bible if they are so inclined.
Younger Children: The lesson is already geared toward younger children.
Prompts for journal writing: What kind of gift would you give to the Baby Jesus? Why do you think that would be a good gift? Draw a picture of your gift.
At 10:45 ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly for prayer.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank You for leading us to Jesus. Guide us as we give gifts to others as the Wise Men gave gifts to the baby Jesus. Help us to share the light of Jesus in all we do. Amen.
Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help tidy up. Make sure costumes are all put away neatly. Shadow screen should be taken down, put in box and placed at the far side of the stage along with the lights. Close/lock the door and turn off the lights.
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.
2. Prepare a closing prayer.
3. Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located. The bin with supplies is located in Great Hall.
4. The stage needs to be set before the children arrive in the Great Hall. The shadow screen should be hung and lights in place. Manger prop should also be in place behind the screen. Costume pieces should be laid out or easily accessible for later in the lesson.
Shadow screen and lights (provided by a local dance educator)
Costumes and props: 3 Wise Men robes and headgear/crowns; 3 packages or containers to be the gifts; manger; cardboard star cutout; other costumes for Mary, Joseph, shepherds and/or animals
Bible study notes prepared by Lori Houck; minutes from the curriculum writers' meeting.