Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
This lesson has more elements than most families will need. Choose those that meet the needs of your own family. Remember to vary the quiet and active portions of the lesson to prevent restlessness.
Purpose: To help family members set a goal for the coming year to become shepherds.
Materials: Candy canes, pictures of shepherds relating to the Christmas story, pictures of Jesus as a shepherd (link provided), scriptures for each person, nativity set,
1. Read the story told by John R. Lasater concerning his trip to Israel and his discovery of a shepherd's love for his sheep. If your family is older, you may want to share the entire talk with your family. (It is brief.)
2. Show a picture of the Savior, possibly one of him with sheep. Greg Olson has several that are especially appealing. His paintings, The Good Shepherd or Lost No More are good choices, and may be placed on your computer for viewing during the lesson. Prints can be purchased at LDS book stores. Discuss the picture and ask family members why the Savior is called the Good Shepherd. Refer to the story told at the start of the lesson.
3. In connection with the above question, explore scriptures relating to the Savior as a shepherd. Those family members who can read can be encouraged to explore the topical guide. The section of Jesus as the Good Shepherd can be found online. If your children are young, choose one or two to share with them. Help them to find these scriptures in their own books even if they cannot read, and help them to mark them. Explain words they may not understand.
4. Bring out a nativity set for use in the next section. Your children might enjoy making their own nativity as in a prior home evening or as an activity the previous Sunday. You can print a free pattern from the Friend. Read the Christmas story and then read it again as the children act out the story with the nativity. Children can each be given pieces of the set to place as they appear in the story.
5. Move the shepherds away from the scene, and place them in their fields again. Ask them to imagine being a shepherd. What would they feel as each part of their story happened? Why did Heavenly Father choose them to receive the message? (Shepherds were not important people.)
6. Ask family members to think about ways they can be shepherds in their own lives. For ideas, explore the following talks from church publications:
The Importance of Shepherds by Marra Hyde.
Fear Not by the First Presidency, 1982
Thoughts on The Good Shepherd by Elmer S. Ellsworth
Sheep, Shepherds, and Sheepherders by James R. Moss
Each of these articles suggests different approaches to the idea of being a shepherd. You may want to choose one for use in your family, or you may want to ask family members to read the articles and summarize them to the others. Then select one that appeals to your family goals or allow each family member to select his own.
7. As a family, set goals to become shepherds in whatever manner meets your needs. Encourage family members to set a personal goal as well. Display the family goal in a prominent place. If you have a family artist, ask him to create something visually attractive. You might also purchase or draw sheep or shepherds to place around the house to remind the family of their goals.
1. There is a shepherd shortage in modern-day Bethlehem. The new generation is taking on more profitable work and we may someday have no shepherds left to see there. 2,000 Years After Christ's Birth, Bethlehem's Shepherds are Dwindling
Make your own candy canes.
The Story of the Candy Cane Candy Canes represent the shepherd's crook.
Take a virtual tour of Bethlehem at the city's official web page and sign their guestbook.