By Marsha Seale
An Advent Event
- General: Scones, blue napkins, regular calendars for display, and several different Advent calendars available to take home for various ages, interests, etc.
- Advent Wreaths: Completed Advent wreath sample, green wire wreath frames with candle holders, optional glass Christ candle holder for center, artificial greenery, floral wire, wire cutters, 4 blue candles, and optional 1 white for each wreath to be made (1 set per family).
- Hand Print Advent Calendar Wreaths: Paper plates, green construction paper, scissors, markers/crayons, glue, and optional ribbon
- Song: Flip chart with words: Prepare the Way of the Lord – Taizé – with Orff instruments and Choirchime
The Church has seasons similar to the calendar year. The seasons influence the Bible readings on Sunday mornings, the songs we sing, and the prayers we pray.
The season of Advent marks the beginning of a new church year and begins four Sundays before Christmas. The word Advent literally means “coming.” What’s coming? Who’s coming?
Christmas is a time to remember that God loved us so much that he came to earth as a baby, born in a manger in Bethlehem, to grow, live, and walk among us for a time. Because this is such an important event, the Church gives us time to “get ready” for it. The four weeks of Advent are a time to prepare our hearts to receive such an amazing gift. We also remember that one day he will come again.
Advent has visible reminders for this “getting ready” time. The color for the season is blue; the former color for the season was purple, the color of royalty. Another very visible symbol in the church is the large Advent wreath. The circle of evergreens reminds us that God’s love, made known to us through his son Jesus, has no beginning and no end. The four candles help us to mark the four Sundays of Advent.
Show a regular calendar; show an Advent calendar. Talk about it.
Sing Prepare the Way of the Lord accompanied by kids on instruments.
For each family: Secure greenery to wreath, optional clear candleholder in center. Add candles.
- Circle – no beginning, no end – like God and God’s love for us
- Evergreen – never dies or fades
- Four candles – one for each of the four Sundays of Advent, before Christmas
- Light grows as Christ comes nearer
- Blue – the color of hope, historically of Mary’s garments
- Optional: White candle – Christ candle – purity, joy – the Light of the World that darkness cannot overcome.
Optional: Light the Christ candle on Christmas Eve after sundown.
For each child who is interested, with help as needed.
Bottom of Form
Cut the center out of the paper plate to form a wreath shape. Trace 24 (or number needed for each day of Advent) handprints onto green construction paper. (Added option: Write a good deed on each hand, or cut them out from the Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Advent calendar for kids.)
Starting on the first Sunday in Advent, choose one cutout hand. (Do the good deed listed on the hand, and then) glue the hand onto the wreath. Do this every day to help you count down the days until Christmas. On Christmas day, add a big ribbon to your completed hand print wreath if you like!
- Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Advent calendar for kids (There also is a printable Christmas Kindness Countdown Chain.)
Family Devotion Resources: Faith5, Contemplative Cottage, LEAD Advent Contemplative Prayer Liturgies and Accompanying Coloring Pages and many other online resources.
- Light advent candle(s) at meals or at evening prayer times. Share highs and lows, perhaps random acts of kindness update, a bit of scripture and song, and pray together. Conclude with blessing each other.
- Use a nativity set that children can touch. Move Mary and Joseph closer and closer to the manger as it gets closer to Christmas. Add Christ Child on Christmas morning (or Christmas Eve after sundown).
- Participate in giving: Angel Tree, HAAM, ELCA Good Gifts, food baskets, Star of Hope Homeless Shelter, SERRV, Water to Thrive, etc.
- Ask your family members which traditions and foods are most meaningful to them. Sift and simplify.
- Maximum of 3 gifts per person: think Magi. As a colleague says, “If three gifts were enough for baby Jesus, that’s enough for anyone!”
- Minimize instead of maximize: Meaning, not money.
- Offer ourselves as gifts in time and service. Coupon books or cards. Random acts of kindness.
Celtic Advent: 40 Days of Joy, Love, and Gratitude – from November 15 until Epiphany
“In the 6th century, Celtic Christians celebrated Advent during the 40 days before Christmas as a mirror to the period of Lent before Easter.”