Elizabeth and Mary Praise God (Luke 1:39-55) Sunday School Lesson

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“Praise God!” There are many ways that we can glorify God in all that we do and with all of who we are. Children should be encouraged that worship is more than just songs in church. Our Heavenly Father blesses us with various gifts, and we can use all of them to love and serve Him. Whatever we do, we recognize and thank God for good things in our lives, honoring His love and faithfulness.

Lesson focus: This lesson focuses on Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, and how all of the figures in the story recognized and honored the hand of God in their lives. John leapt up in utero, Elizabeth praised Mary’s faith, and Mary sang to the Lord. As these children of God glorified Him, so we can worship the Lord in a variety of ways, with our love, time, and talents.

Passage: Luke 1:39-55 

Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade

Materials Needed: Construction paper; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; decorative supplies; yarn/string; paper bags; popsicle sticks; jingle bells; noise makers; wrapping paper; Bibles.

More Teaching Ideas:

Games and Learning Activities to Introduce the Lesson

Lesson Opening: This lesson looks at giving praise to God, and a beautiful Biblical visit. If following an Advent lectionary, this will take place in the last week of Advent, prior to official Christmas time. Consider opening activities that connect to Christmas, worship elements, or Mary and Elizabeth.

  • Christmas music freeze dance: Dance to some fun holiday music, pausing in a “freeze” motion when the music stops.
  • Have a mini gift exchange…provide small wrapped items, or invite students to bring their own. Take turns allowing students to select a gift and show others what is inside. Invite them to then share their gifts by trading with others around them.
  • Wrap it up race: split your group into two teams. Have each team select a designated “present” and use wrapping paper and bows to decorate the person! Be careful to leave the head free. Judge winners based on speed and creativity.
  • Jump and sing! Celebrate the story with songs that get kids dancing, singing, playing instruments, and making a joyful noise to God.
  • Run and shout: this is a game best played outdoors. Line kids up and invite them all to run as far as possible WHILE shouting at the top of their lungs. When the air runs out to shout, students must stop where they are. Great test of lung capacity and energy! 

Prepare students for the story by describing how these events took place shortly before Jesus was born, and capture some of the feelings that Mary must have been having. This passage also reminds us how important it is to praise God, and how we can do that in a variety of special ways!

Sunday School Lesson (Luke 1:39-55) Elizabeth and Mary Praise God

Bible Lesson: This passage is one that could potentially be acted out with script, puppets, or mimed action. You might have older students read or dramatize the parts, or you could read a few verses at a time and pause to discuss. You might also wish to simply read or paraphrase for younger students. 

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. -Luke 1:39-40

Explain (or remind students) that after the angel announced to Mary she would give birth to Jesus, he also told her that her relative Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant. Some people think that Mary went to visit her cousin to escape the prying eyes of townspeople noticing her condition. Many understand the visit to be an opportunity for rejoicing in what God had done for both women. It’s only natural to seek celebration and wise counsel in others, and Mary knew she could trust Elizabeth.

Ask: Who would you go to if you had wonderful news to share? Who would you want to talk to if you needed advice or help?

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” -Luke 1:41-45

Remind/tell students that Elizabeth was going to give birth to John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Jesus. Both Elizabeth and the baby inside of her recognized that something amazing was happening with Mary. John, not yet born, leaped for joy when Mary approached! This child knew whose presence He was in. Elizabeth felt it and was filled with the Holy Spirit. This means God told her what was happening. She knew Who Mary was carrying, and she considered it an honor to be in her presence. Elizabeth also noted how wonderful it was that Mary believed and had been granted the ability to bear Jesus.

Ask: What do you do when you get really great news? How do you act if you’re very joyful and excited about something special? How do we give praise to God for wonderful things?   

Explain that John was rejoicing inside of Elizabeth, praising God in an infant’s way. Elizabeth glorified God and knew what He had done. There are a lot of wonderful ways that we can celebrate God’s hand and power in our lives. In this story, Mary responded with a joyful song. She rejoiced in what God had done.

Take a moment to read the words of Mary’s “Magnificat.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,

47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

    and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is for those who fear him

    from generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with his arm;

    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

    and exalted those of humble estate;

53 he has filled the hungry with good things,

    and the rich he has sent away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

    in remembrance of his mercy,

55 as he spoke to our fathers,  to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” -Luke 1:46-55

Mary sings of the mighty works of God, and of His hand in her life and throughout the world. When wonderful things happen, we can celebrate and rejoice. We might sing or make music, we might jump and dance, we might do art, or just tell others that we love Jesus! There are so many ways we glorify God, and He welcomes and loves our genuine praise. No matter who we are or what we do, we can tell others of His love, and praise Him for who He is and what He does for us.

Ask: How can we praise God every day? What do we have to be joyful and excited about?

Close with prayer, thanking God for His many blessings and glorifying Him for His remarkable work in our lives and in the lives of others.

Sunday School Crafts

Craft: This lesson involves praising and glorifying God, and a joyful family visit. Crafts could center on the story or the principles within it. 

  • Make a noisemaker: use cups or plates filled with dry rice or beans; or create a fun jingle bell bracelet to celebrate the holidays and make a joyful noise.
  • Make puppets of Mary and Elizabeth. Consider an Elizabeth puppet with a small “John” within.
  • Create a baby rattle-themed craft with rattling beads inside, in honor of the babies in the story.
  • For Christmas time, decorate a paper Christmas tree and place “ornaments” on it to celebrate God’s blessings to us.

How do we express praise? There are a lot of ways to show enthusiasm: we can jump for joy, sing and dance, giggle with glee, and more! The story of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth reminds us that there are many methods of glorifying God, and that He delights in our praise. Even John the Baptist praised, before being born! These crafts celebrate Elizabeth, Mary, and more. A jingle bell bracelet allows students to have fun and make a joyful (and festive) noise to God. A “Jumping John” puppet helps share the story with Elizabeth and John featured in a creative craft.

Biel Verses or Craft Captions to Consider…  (Luke 1:39-55)

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.    -Luke 1:41

“My soul magnifies the Lord,   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”  -Luke 1:47

Make a joyful noise…praise the Lord!

Glorify God in all things…

John leapt for joy…I will, too! Praise God.

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