Monday, December 2, 2013

Sunday School Lesson: Christmas in July Week One: Elizabeth

Note: this is a "re-run" but I thought I would repost it for all of my Sunday school teachers out there looking for Christmas lessons...

Today, is a little different post for me, but I thought I would share for all of my Sunday school teaching friends out there. Actually, this can be used to teach your own children as well.

One of my great joys in life is teaching my Sunday school class comprised of mostly 8-10 year olds. When I began teaching, I finished up some purchased curriculum which was fine but I really wanted to have more freedom to teach different topics. I found a wonderful free resource website called Ministry to Children, and I've used two of their series for guides as curriculum. Most recently we've done about 22 weeks going through the kings of Israel. It's been a great series, but I decided to take a break and have four "Christmas in July" lessons. 

I wasn't really finding any curriculum that I liked for this little series as I had already done an outstanding one from Ministry to Children and of course I didn't want to repeat it. So, I decided to write my own.

I've found that the kids really enjoy when I dress in character and they hear a story in "first person". I decided to act as Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother. I will use the following as a guide not reading it word for word, except for where I've quoted scripture.

I also always incorporate pictures that I show on my iPad. I didn't include any pictures because I find them on various websites and I don't have the copyright. I simply google whatever topic we are studying and search images. I just save the image onto our iPad and show it while I read the story. The kids love this visual aid, they especially love when I have Lego pictures to go along with the story. When you see (Pic) that is where I have a picture to show the kids. I hope you find this helpful and encouraging!

I'm dressed as Jehosheba during our Kings of Israel lesson. Elizabeth will look very similar!

Christmas in July Week One: Elizabeth

Greeting and introduction:

(I will be dressed up as Elizabeth, with a head covering and long dress. The kids will be told there is a guest teacher before they enter the room.)

Welcome, since you are celebrating Christmas in July, your teacher asked me to come speak with you. Why do you celebrate Christmas? That’s right the birth of Jesus, and I happen to know a lot about that since I am very close friends with Jesus’ mother, Mary.

My name is Elizabeth and I lived during the time of King Herod (PIC) in Judea. I am a descendent of Aaron just like my husband the priest Zechariah. Both my husband and I are upright in the sight of God and we observe all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. Basically, that means that we really respect and obey God and do the best that we can to live a life that pleases Him. Even though we had always done our best to obey God, we still had never had a child, which is something that we had always wanted. I tried really hard not to be too sad about this especially since I had grown much too old to have kids (or had I?). It turns out God had a very big surprise for me.


Since I am a devoted follower of God, I know many of the prophesies from long ago. 
Who remembers what a prophesy is? Prophesy is when a person (sometimes called a prophet) is given a message from God, at times that message can tell us something that is going to happen in the future. There are many prophesies from long ago that tell us of a coming messiah, the one who is going to save and deliver the people of Israel. 

There are so many prophesies about the coming messiah but my favorite is from the prophet Isaiah (PIC x 2):

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Who does this sound like to you? That’s right, Jesus. Can you believe this was written over 700 years before He was born?

Another thing that old prophesies told us was that there would be a prophet that will come right before before the Messiah is born to pave the way for Him.

Here are some prophesies from long ago about the one to come before the Messiah:

Isaiah 40:3 (NIV) (PIC)

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.

Malachi 3:1(NIV)

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
Once again these were written hundreds of years before the birth of this messenger. Oh how I hoped that I would live to see the day that the messenger that would prepare the way for the Lord and even to see the Lord, himself. I couldn’t have imagined in a million years that I would be his mother. Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself!

An Angel Visits Zechariah

My husband and I were just living our lives and doing our best to honor God when the most unbelievable thing happened. Zechariah was at work as a priest one day. As his job he was chosen to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. As he was there one day burning incense one would you believe an angel appeared to him? (PIC) Some people of your time think of angels as little women like creatures with wings but let me tell you angels are not little they are actually big strong warriors. (PIC) This angel happened to be named Gabriel and he serves God himself. When Zechariah saw the angel, he was very afraid. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:11-17)

Zechariah couldn’t believe what he was hearing and he questioned the angel, probably not his best move! He asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Well, he’s right, I am really old to have a baby, but questioning a big powerful angel might not have been a good idea.) The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
When his time of service was completed, he returned home. (Luke 2:18-23)

When God sends an angel to tell you something that means it will happen and just as he said, I became pregnant with a baby! (PIC) I knew God had done this wonderful miracle for me, He took away all of my sadness! I’ve never been so overjoyed in my life. I hid in my home for five months and cherished the baby growing in my body.

Mary Visits

During the time while I was pregnant, my sweet young friend, Mary, came to visit. I will remember this day for as long as I live. When Mary entered our house and I heard her greet me, my baby leaped in my womb and at that time I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t help but exclaim well practically yell I was so excited, (PIC) Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:42-44

I was overjoyed to know that I was indeed going to live during the time that the Lord comes to live with us. Not only that, but I was carrying the promised messenger of God to make a straight path for the Lord. I was so full of joy and then Mary sang the most beautiful song that I’ve ever heard. I’d sing it for you, but I would never be able to sing it like her so I will just read it to you.

Mary’s Song Luke 1:46-55 (PIC)

46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Mary spent the next three months with me. (PIC) It was truly a wonderful time. We laughed and we cried. We both felt a little nervous about the big job that God had given us to raise these babies, but we knew we could do it with God’s help.

The Birth of John the Baptist

When it was time for me to have the baby, I gave birth to a son just as the angel predicted. My neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown me great mercy, and they shared my joy. (PIC)

On the eighth day we came to circumcise the child, and the priests were going to name the baby after his father Zechariah, but his I spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
Then they made signs to Zechariah, to find out what he would like to name the child.  He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

And that is the story of how my son, who you know as John the Baptist was born. But, you might be wondering what happened to this baby. Well, he turned out to be just as the angel told my husband he would be, a great man. He never drank any wine and he was always so wise as he was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. He spread the wisdom of God wherever he went and turned many people who had gone astray back to the Lord their God. He even baptized the Lord himself in the Jordan river even though he certainly didn’t fill worthy. (PIC)

If God can use an old woman like me to raise a son that will turn hearts to God, he can use anyone for His glory. And guess who he wants to use for His glory, each one of you!

Question and Answer:

Who was the King where Elizabeth lived?
What was Zechariah’s job?
Who visited Zechariah?
Why could Zechariah not speak?
Who visited Elizabeth while she was pregnant?
What happened to Elizabeth when Mary visited?
Did God keep his promise to Zechariah?

Write on the “Christmas in July” bulletin board: God uses ordinary people who obey Him, like Elizabeth, for His glory.


Ask for prayer requests.

Thank God for how He uses ordinary people to do wonderful things. Ask God to use each one of us to do amazing things for His kingdom and use us to turn hearts toward Him. 

Snack and Craft Time:

We will begin to decorate our empty Christmas tree by making ornaments. 

Today we will cut out snowflakes (PICS) by folding white sheets of paper. We will write on the snowflakes, 

We are all unique to be used for God’s glory. 

Coloring sheets if time allows.

Note: if you like this, then you might like the Sunday school craft "I am thankful..." that I did a while back.


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