Advent, a time of waiting and preparation.
by Gill O'Neill
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To introduce Advent as a time of waiting and preparation.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a colleague to help you. Explain that you will be a couple of minutes late to the assembly, and ask the colleague to hold the children in readiness. Ask him or her to stress to the children that they are WAITING for you to arrive, and should be ready for when you get there.
- Prepare a flip-chart or OHT with the heading:
Preparation for Christmas - My list of jobs to be done:
- Prepare a second flip-chart page or OHT with the following names spread out under the heading:
Preparation for Jesus' Coming - List of jobs to be done by:
- The Prophets
- John the Baptist
- Have appropriate pens available.
- A copy of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins from a children's Bible (Matthew 25.1-13) (optional).
- Wait until the whole school has assembled and your colleague has explained that they are waiting for you to arrive. Judge how late to be - it need not be more than a moment or two. As you arrive, apologize to your colleague, and then apologize profusely to the school, stressing the words, 'Sorry to have kept you waiting. I hope you are ready for the assembly now.'
- Ask the children to think about the time of the year. Ask them the name of the season in the Christian calendar: Advent.
Explain that Advent is meant to be a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus, and preparation for the celebration of his birth.
- Tell the children that during December many of them, and many of their parents, have lots to do to get ready for Christmas. Ask the children what jobs they think should appear on your list of jobs to do. Write these on the flip-chart/OHT or get a volunteer to do the writing for you. For instance, cards to write; buy presents; wrap presents; bake cake; put up decorations; hang up stockings; carol singing.
- Now tell the children that long before Jesus was born people were preparing for his coming. They didn't know when, where, or how he would come, but they started preparing. Now refer to your second flip-chart/OHT.
- Ask the children if they can think of any jobs that the people mentioned on the chart/OHT had to do in preparation for Jesus' coming (you may need to help them with the Prophets). For instance:
The Prophets: Telling people, reminding people about God.
Gabriel: Announcing the good news to Mary and the shepherds.
Mary: Looking after herself and the baby inside her; preparing for the birth.
Joseph: Looking after Mary and preparing for the birth.
John the Baptist: Being born! And later announcing Jesus' special work.
- When you have completed the lists, tell the children that as well as preparing all the physical things for the celebrations, we need to prepare ourselves.
If time allows, tell the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins from a children's Bible (Matthew 25.1-13). Explain that this is a story about being ready for God's kingdom, just as Christians make ready for Christmas. We all, of whatever faith, make ready for the Christmas holiday season. End by reminding everyone that they had to wait for you at the beginning of the assembly - you hope this will help them to remember the advent theme of waiting and being ready.
Time for reflection
We thank you for this special time of Advent,
a special time of waiting and preparation.
Help us, while we go about our preparations,
to find time to think of the gift of Jesus
that you gave to us at that first Christmas time.
'Jesus Christ is here' (Come and Praise, 26)