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To reflect on the meaning of Advent, and the difficulty we have in waiting.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect on the meaning of Advent, and the difficulty we have in waiting.

Preparation and materials

  • Different Advent calendars, some with chocolate, and more traditional ones.

  • An Advent candles wreath.


  1. Discuss the saying ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ Ask the children if they understand what it means.

    Ask them if they know of any Christian celebrations about waiting for something good.

    Give the following clues:

    Purple is a significant colour.

    We light candles during this time.

    We put up decorations and trees in our homes.

    We have a special calendar; some of these calendars have chocolate in them.

    By the final clue the children may have guessed it is Advent.

  2. Do they know what Advent means? Tell the children that the simple meaning of ‘advent’ is ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. The period of Advent, which we measure or tick off by opening the ‘windows’ on our Advent calendars each day, is a time when we watch or wait for something that’s coming.
  3. Ask the children what it is that’s coming. Direct them to the birth of Jesus.
  4. In the Christian church, Advent is marked by four Sundays, which are called the first, second, third and fourth Sundays in Advent. The first Sunday in Advent has to happen between 27 November and 3 December, so this year it falls on 28 November.

    This year, the other four Sundays are on 5, 12 and 19 December. On each of those Sundays, Christians pray and think about the coming of the baby Jesus.

  5. Ask the children if Advent can only be celebrated by Christians.

    Look at the variety of Advent calendars. Direct children to seeing that while having an Advent calendar is a Christian tradition, people of other faiths often enjoy Christmas too, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t also have an Advent calendar. It’s a good way to mark out the passing of the days leading to Christmas.

Time for reflection

Using Advent candles, tell the children that we will light a candle each week and let them burn for the duration of the assemblies, until all four are lit.

We will light the central, white one on the last day before we break up for Christmas. In churches, this candle is lit on Christmas day. What do you think it stands for?

Waiting can be difficult. Waiting for Christmas can be difficult. So, instead of just sitting there or jumping about and hoping that Christmas will come soon, we break the waiting up – there are things to do, concerts to prepare for, cards to write. And, of course, there’s the Advent calendar that marks out the days for us, one by one.

Waiting is a part of life. Learning to deal with it is part of growing up.

Lord, we wait for the coming of Christmas with feelings of joy and excitement.
As we wait, may we remember all that we have to do along the way, and may we always remember those people for whom this is a lonely and sad time.
And, at this special time, please be with all those families who are waiting for a new baby, as Mary and Joseph awaited the arrival of the baby Jesus.


‘Go, tell it on the mountain’ (Come and Praise, 24)
‘Sitting, waiting, wishing’, Jack Johnson (available to download)

Publication date: November 2010   (Vol.12 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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