BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO)
ZOOM IN ON ANGELS.
Just for a bit of fun, let's focus on angels for this Christmas study unit. Footnotes at Mt 1:20 (NOAB/NRSV) point out that
"angels and dreams frequently communicate God's plan in Matthew."
THE WORD 'ANGEL'
comes from Middle English, from Old English engel & Old French angele; both from Late Latin angelus, from Greek angelos, literally,
messenger (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.)
LOTS OF ANGELS IN THE 2 NATIVITY ACCOUNTS.
Here's where angels show up in Matthew:
• Mt. 1.18: angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and fill him in that Mary is expecting.
•Mt 2. 13: after the wise men leave, an angel appears to Joseph to tell it would be a good idea to skip town.
• Mt. 2: 19: angel appears to Joseph in Egypt after Herod dies and tell him it's okay to go back now.
Here's where angels show up in the nativity story in Luke:
Lk 1. 26: angel Gabriel brings greetings to Mary, the favoured one.
Lk 2. 8: angel appears to nearby shepherds telling them a Saviour is born.
Lk 2.13: said angel is joined by multitude of heavenly host singing glory to God in the highest.
CHRISTMAS ANGELS & ROGUES.
Let's give the last word here on the two views of Christmas shown in the gospels of Matthew and Luke to Canadian writer and
scholar Northrop Frye. The following quotation comes from an editorial from 1949 called "Christmas III," found in Northrop
Frye on Religion:
"Matthew tells a terrible and gloomy tale of a jealous tyrant who filled the land with dead children and wailing mothers,
while the wise men escaped from the country in one direction and the Holy Family in the other... Today we know as never before
that this, too, is part of the Christmas story. But the story of Luke, with the shepherds and the manger and the angels singing
hymns of peace and goodwill to men, does not cease to be true just because the story of Matthew is also true. The story of
Christmas, from its primitive beginnings to the present, is in part a story of how men, by cowering together in fear of a
common menace, discover a new fellowship, in fellowship a new hope, and in hope a new vision of society."
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION.
1. What does an angel mean to you?
2. Are they always other-earthly figures with wings?
3. Name some other 'messengers' in your life?
4. What have been their messages?
5. Angels often start of their speeches with , 'Fear not.' In what way is encountering one of these messengers -- even of
the message is a good one -- a tad scary.
6. Can you name other Bible stories with angels or messengers in them? [ie the 3 visitors received by Abraham and Sarah.]
7. Can you name other books or movies with angels or messengers in them?
Please find below suggested workshops for this unit. For each one, when you are in real time with the children:
1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of
kids can supply on the story they've been studying.
2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.
Arts-- Lollipop angels
Materials: lots of lollipops (tootsie pops seem good), 10 x 10 inch squares of tissue paper, cloth, gift wrap, whatever, lots
of yarn cut to about 6 inches, fine tip markers, googly eyes, glue, sparkly pipe cleaners.
How to do this.
Put candy head into centre of paper or cloth square. Tie off under head with yarn. Use extra yarn for hair. Add face with
markers or googly eyes. Use fan of folded paper for wings, glue on. Or you can bend sparkly pipe cleaner for wings and attach.
Can also be used to make haloes.
Kitchen -- decorate big cookies with angels.
Ingredients: 3-3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup butter or margarine, softened (not melted!),
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract. For decorating, lots of white icing and lots of cake sprinkles,
esp gold and silver ones!
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter or margarine, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add flour
mixture and stir with wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles with a cookie
cutter or other round object, such as a glass or round plastic container. Place circles 2” apart on ungreased cookie
sheet. *** Cut a nice big circle, say the size of the bottom of a coffee can so the kids have more room to decorate.***
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, checking after 6 minutes. Cookies will be done when edges are lightly browned. Do not allow cookies
to get too brown. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Remove from cookies sheets to
aluminum foil on a flat surface and allow to cool completely.
- Using a butter knife, spread white frosting on top of each cookie.
- Let children decorate the cookies with sprinkles, sugar, and candies.
Since our theme is angels, encourage the kids to put angels images their cookies. You can get a nice clean line with the
gel decorator pens. Try whole angels figures, or just heads and haloes.
Use Fluffy and God's Amazing Christmas Adventure for Sundaysoftware.com. Two 'stations" are loaded with angels -- station 2 about Mary and Elizabeth, and station 5 about the shepherds.
Station 2 has lots of interactive stuff, mini quiz, fluffimations.
Station 5 has the Shepherd's quiz, after which you get to see the baby jesus.
For younger kids, consider using Play and Learn, also available from Sunday Software. It has some good nativity computer
colouring pages as well as a read-along version of the story.
Extra ideas - Christmas, Yr C
Arts -- angel hanky dolls
Kitchen -- angelic shortbread cookies
Computer -- various activities, open computer lab