The department stores have been displaying Christmas goodies since the day after Halloween, but at last the church calendar has officially caught up, and the season of Advent is upon us. Whether you eagerly anticipate opening illustrated doors to find chocolate, attend weekly church services, or are looking for new ways to celebrate, it is a joyous and festive time of year. To help along the appreciation, these lessons will provide ideas to jump start conversation and activities. The outlines here can be used at home, in Sunday school classes, or however best fits. For the first week in Advent, consider the following…
On the first Sunday of Advent we light the “Hope Candle” or prophecy candle. This signifies a sense of anticipation as we think back to the Messianic hope of the Old Testament and its fulfillment in Jesus. Many of the elements of the Gospel story are echoes of words that prophets spoke…
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. -Isaiah 9:6-7
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. -Isaiah 7:14
Depending on age, this is a great time to discuss with youngsters the meaning of prophecy and why it was such an integral part of the Bible and story of Christ. To people that were groaning under oppression and awaiting relief, the idea of a Messiah as promised by the prophets was probably quite refreshing. We in the twenty-first century have a slightly different approach, though our attitude can be similar. We may not face the same challenges as first century Jews, but we are eagerly hoping for the return of Jesus and restoration of God’s kingdom. Meanwhile, we celebrate His initial incarnation and even more so His sacrifice and resurrection.
So as we dive into the Advent season, consider how to make it extra special this year. Perhaps begin a practice of devotions and/or family Bible study. Questions to consider for starters could include:
- What does it mean to anticipate something?
- What kinds of things do we look forward to?
- Why did God send prophets before Jesus came? What is their significance?
- What would you like to know about Jesus?
- How can we get to know God better through His son?
- In addition, there are plenty of fun ways to celebrate this season at home or otherwise. Here are just a few possibilities…
- Light candles of your own to coincide with the Advent wreath.
Make a candle wreath: Paint or color toilet paper tubes. Insert red/orange/yellow tissue paper that can be moved up or down as “flames.” Tuck the tubes into a green paper plate and label the weeks (hope, preparation, joy, love, Christ) and themes.
- Make a paper chain. So it’s not terribly original, but always a fun way to count down.
- Make your own Advent calendar. Challenge older kids to create a calendar for younger ones, perhaps with pictures, jokes, or activities for each day.
- Practice giving. Come up with a charity or service project for Advent weeks to focus on others in need in a normally hectic and potentially self-centered time.
- Read through the Nativity story in the Gospels. Or select one Gospel to read through entirely. For older kids, examine Old Testament prophecy regarding Christ and how it is fulfilled.
Again, these are but a few suggestions to get the ball rolling. The best way to make the season meaningful and memorable is to choose what works best for you. However you do it, have fun, grow, and remember to follow the design of the Advent candle wreath: always keep CHRIST in the center.