1. Students should be able to identify the characters in the icon and tell the story.

2. Students should know the date of the feast (December 25).

3. Students should be able to recite or sing the Troparion and the Kontakion.

4. Students should know the Christmas greeting: Christ is born! Glorify Him!


Possible Lesson Plan:

1. Open with prayer.


2. The icon: Ask how much the students already know about the story of the feast.  Who are the characters in the icon? The Theotokos and Child, St. Joseph (being tempted by Satan to doubt the virgin birth), Satan (in dark colors, the Prince of Darkness), a shepherd (facing the angels as they tell of His birth), the Magi (What is their symbolism? 1 beardless and young, one middle-aged, and one old, representing all mankind), the Angels, the cow, and the star.  Note: not all icons have the Magi.  Is it day or night?


3. Scripture Reference: Luke 2:1-20.

Old Testament prophecies: Can the students find some of these on their own? Psalm 109: 1-4, Micah 4:6-7, 5:2-4, Genesis 14:17-20, Isaiah 8:9-18, 9:1-6, 7:14, 60: 5-6,  Numbers 24-15-17, Malachi 3:20. Listen to the songs of the feast for these references. 


4. Songs of the Feast:

Troparion: Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shown to the world the light of wisdom.  For by it those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star to adore thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know thee, the Orient from on high. O Lord, glory to thee!

Kontakion: Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!  Angels, with shepherds, glorify him! The wise men journey with the star! Since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child!

Canon: I behold a strange and wonderful mystery: the cave a heaven, the Virgin a cherubic throne, and the manger a noble place in which hath lain Christ the uncontainable God.  Let us, therefore, praise and magnify Him.


5. Discussion questions:

What is Advent? How long is it? How do we observe it? Where was Jesus born? Why there? How did God arrange for the prophecy of Micah to be fulfilled? Was he born in splendor like a king or was God’s Son, the greatest king of all, born in a very humble place? Why? (maybe so we can all reach Him personally) What was a stable in Jesus’s day? (a cave)

Luke traces Jesus’s geneology all the way to Adam, establishing Him as a man; Matthew to Abraham, establishing Him as a Jew.  How is He also our priest? (through Melchizadek)  Hebrews 7 establishes this clearly. 

In what way is the cave a heaven? The Virgin, a cherubic throne? (Remember the Ark from the Feast of the Presentation?)

Where is the peace on earth promised by the angel to the shepherds? Certainly not

on earth at the time of Jesus (remember the Romans?) or since. St. John of Kronstadt answers that “every truly believing person who keeps Christ's commandments, every truly repentant sinner has the peace of Christ within himself, and no external troubles of this world can destroy it.” Do you have that peace inside yourself?


6. Play a learning game: 20 Questions would be great with the multitude of characters. Write the names of the characters in the icon on slips of paper – Mary, Jesus, Joseph, shepherd, cow, angel, star. Have students select a slip of paper. The other students then ask yes/no questions until they can determine the identity of the character.


7. Add to your time line as before. Do you want to include some ancestors in BC?


8. Close with prayer.