Nativity of Theotokos and Presentation of Theotokos

NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS AND PRESENTATION OF THE THEOTOKOS

 

Objectives:

  1. Students should be able to tell the stories of these two great feasts.
  2. Students should know the names of Joachim and Anna and Mary.
  3. Students should be able to list the dates of these 2 immovable feasts.

 

Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.

 

2. Read the story of the feasts:

            There lived in the land of Israel a couple names Joachim and Anna. Joachim and Anna were Jews; God called the Jews His chosen, or special, people, and had given them His law and His prophets. Through the prophets, God had spoken to His special people, telling them that He would send His Son to be their king. And through the years, God had given the Jewish people many mighty and godly kings, like King David and King Solomon. Joachim and Anna were from the family of David.

Joachim and Anna were a righteous couple.  But despite years of prayers, they had no children and were getting quite old, too old for children. They went to the temple constantly, praying and offering sacrifices for a child. Now, for the Jewish people, not having any children was considered a disgrace; the couple must be very wicked if God would not bless them even with a child. One day, Joachim brought yet another offering to the temple.  The priest was so angry to see him yet again that he threw Joachim out of the temple.  Joachim went to the hills outside the city and there prayed and fasted for forty days.  An angel appeared to him and told him that they would have a baby, and this baby would be blessed by God.  The angel appeared at the same to Anna at home.  They ran to meet each other at the gates of the city, full of joy.

    Nine months later, the baby was born.  She was given the name Mary.  The righteous couple promised the Lord that this child would be dedicated to Him; this promise was later fulfilled with the presentation of Mary at the temple. Several of the early Christian writings of Syria tell us that Mary, theTheotokos was brought to the Temple at age three to be educated, in fulfillment of a vow made by her parents, Joachim and Anna. The feast was instituted in the late 4th century.  Mary and her parents approach the Temple in joy, accompanied by Mary’s small friends.  Zachariah and the Temple virgins meet her in the Temple courtyard.  The Temple is divided into three sections: the outer porch or courtyard, the Holy or nave where only Jews can come to pray and worship, and the Holy of Holies, behind a curtain, where only the high priest can enter, and he only once a year on the Day of Atonement.  But, little Mary climbs directly up the steps and into the Holy of Holies, astounding all the people and even the angels.

            The church celebrates the birthday of Mary on September 8. We celebrate her entrance into the temple on November 21.

 

  1. Review the story again, with the icons. Identify each figure. What was the role of each in the story? Ask the children: How did Joachim and Anna feel when they couldn’t have a child? How do you feel when people say bad things about you? Is it good to say bad things about other people? How did Mary feel when saying good-bye to her parents? Why did she climb the steps to the temple? Would you be brave enough to do that?

 

  1. Play a learning game – Don’t Make a Move: Write numbers from 1-10 oneach of 10 popsicle sticks. Ahead of time, write 10 questions about the lesson on cards numbered from 1-10:

Who was Mary’s mother?

Who was Mary’s father?

What word do we use for God-bearer?

What is the date of the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos?

What is the date of the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos?

Where was the temple?

How old was Mary when she went to the temple?

What word do we use to mean “birth”?

Where was Mary born?

Who received Mary at the temple?

The first student dumps the 10 sticks in a pile. He tries to remove one without moving the others. If he succeeds, he can try to answer the question corresponding to the number on the stick. If he moves the other sticks, or cannot give the answer, the stick returns to the pile, and the next student tries. The game is finished when all the sticks are removed and all questions answered.

  1. Make Climbing the Steps. Give each student a pad of paper with 15 sheets; there are pads in the closet marked “paper”. Draw 15 steps on each one, Anna and Joachim at the bottom and Zachariah at the top; simple or stick figures are fine but they should be as close to identical as possible. Now draw Mary at the bottom on the first, 1st step on the 2nd sheet, 2nd step on the 3rd sheet, etc. As you flip the pages quickly, it will look as if Mary is climbing the steps.

 

  1. Close with prayer.