Advent, a time of patient anticipation. To relate the season to the longing for world peace.
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To understand Advent as a time of patient anticipation. To relate the season to the longing and search for world peace.
Note: This assembly builds on the introduction to Advent in 'Everybody's waiting' but it can also stand alone.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a bowl, some moist bulb fibre, some hyacinth bulbs and polythene gloves for those who are to plant them. (Handling the bulbs can cause mild skin irritation.)
- A number of children might read aloud the words of Isaiah (below), which could also be displayed on an OHP.
- Refer to the need to get ready for Christmas (refer to the previous Advent assembly if you used it), and suggest that a bowl of hyacinth flowers can make a good present.
- Invite some children to plant the bulbs in the bowl, covering them with the fibre until just the tips are visible. Explain that when planted the bulbs must be placed in a cool, dark place so that the roots will develop within the bowl.
Wrap the bowl in newspaper, emphasizing the need to wait for eight weeks (i.e. until early in the New Year). The bulbs will then be ready to be brought into flower by bringing them into the warmth and light. Explain that bulbs not treated in this way do not grow well because of the lack of roots.
- Ask the children close their eyes and to imagine that they are one of the bulbs. How might they feel as they are planted and their roots begin to grow? Suggestions might range from those of initial 'comfort' to 'pushing and straining to get into the light'.
Reflect that waiting is not always comfortable and easy. We feel tensions inside us; but waiting is an unavoidable part of life.
How does waiting for Christmas feel?
- Explain (or remind) the children that in the Christian calendar the period leading up to Christmas is called Advent. (Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.) In Advent, Christians remember how, long ago, people waited for God to send someone to help them. Invite everyone to listen to some words adapted from the Old Testament (the part of the Bible written before the coming of Jesus). They tell of a longing for a better and more peaceful world. As they listen, ask the children to think about how the words describe people living together in harmony.
A new king will arise...
The spirit of the Lord will give him wisdom,
and the knowledge and skill to rule his people.
He will know God's will and will happily obey him.
He will not judge by appearance or hearsay;
he will judge the poor fairly
and defend the rights of the helpless.
Wolves and sheep will live together in peace,
and leopards will lie down with young goats.
Calves and lion cubs will feed together
and little children shall take care of them.
Lions will eat straw as cattle do.
Even a baby will not be harmed
if it plays near a poisonous snake.
On Zion, God's sacred hill,
there will be nothing harmful or evil.
The land will be as full of knowledge of the Lord
as the seas are full of water.
(From Isaiah 11, adapted from the Good News Bible)
- Reflect that in the history of the Bible it was many years after these words were written before Jesus was born. There was a long time of waiting. Advent reminds us that in our prayers for the peace of the world we must be patient and not give up. The roots of the hyacinth grow without being seen. We mustn't forget that many good things happen each day, which are not reported in the news. They are signs of hope. With patience we can all help peace to grow.
Time for reflection
help us each day
to pray and work for peace
and not to give up.
'Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning' (Come and Praise, 43). An additional verse: 'Give me hope in my heart, keep me praying' would be appropriate.