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Ready for Advent?

2 December 2017 is Advent Sunday

by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To encourage us to use the season of Advent to prepare ourselves for Christmas.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly works well without any props – the children simply use their imaginations - so the following props are optional. It is best if you produce them as the children suggest them, so start off by having them where the children can’t see them.

    - Items that you would take for a day out to the beach, such as a swimming costume, a towel, some money, a bucket and spade and some sun cream.
    - Items that you would take for a sleepover, such as a toothbrush, pyjamas, a pillow, a sleeping bag and a change of clothes.
    - A plate, knife and fork.

  • In this assembly, you are going to act out three situations and talk to the children as you do so. In each case, you will be pretending to arrive in a particular situation and discovering that you can’t enjoy the experience because you are not properly prepared. You will then ask the children how you could have been better prepared in each case.

  • You may like to ask different teachers or children to act out the situations.

Assembly

  1. Tell the children that you are going on a trip to the seaside. Pretend to arrive by commenting on the water and the sand, and spotting an ice-cream van.
    Now pretend to look at the sea again and express concern that you can’t go in the water fully dressed. Explain that it doesn’t matter because you can play in the sand instead. Express disappointment when you realize that you have brought nothing to play with. Point out that at least you can get an ice cream, but then express disappointment when you realize that they aren’t free and you have no money to buy one! The more expressive you are, the better – try to be very excited, followed by very disappointed.

    Here is an example script.
    ‘I’m so excited! I’ve come for a special day out at the seaside. I love the beach. Look, over there, I can see the water. It’s such a hot day, I can’t wait to swim in the waves.
    (Look down at the sand.) I love the feel of the sand between my toes. Last time I came here, I built the biggest sandcastle you’ve ever seen. Oh, look! There’s the ice-cream van. After I’ve been in the water and built the sandcastle, I’ll buy a huge ice cream with a Flake.
    Right, first, I'll head into the water for a swim. Oh no! I’ve not brought my costume . . . what am I going to wear? (Look upset.)
    Oh well, if I can’t swim, I'll just play in the sand instead . . . Oh no! I haven’t brought my bucket and spade. In fact, I haven’t brought anything to play with. (Look upset.)
    Oh well, at least I can have an ice cream. (Empty out your pockets.) Oh dear, I’ve forgotten my money, too! It looks like I can’t even have an ice cream. What a terrible day!

  2. Now follow a similar style for pretending you are going on a sleepover, but have forgotten everything. You have no toothbrush (worry about waking up with a horrible taste in your mouth); no pyjamas (worry about feeling cold); no pillow (worry about being uncomfortable); and no sleeping bag (worry about feeling cold and uncomfortable).

  3. Now follow a similar style for eating a meal. You have the plate, knife and fork, but you have forgotten to buy any food. Build up the atmosphere by talking about how hungry you are and describing the foods that you would like to eat. Express your disappointment that you will have to remain hungry!

  4. Optional: revisit each situation and ask the children what preparations you should have made. As the children say each object, ask them to come to the front to hold that object.

  5. Explain that the four weeks before Christmas are known as Advent. Advent is a special time for Christians. During these four weeks, we have a chance to prepare ourselves for Christmas. This doesn’t just mean having parties, putting up decorations and buying presents, it means preparing our hearts for the message of Christmas.
    Christians believe that, at Christmas, God sent Jesus to Earth to offer us peace and to show the world how much he loves us. As we approach Christmas, it’s important to stop and think about living in peace and love with those around us. It’s important to be ready on the inside, in our minds and feelings, to celebrate the wonder of Christmas.

Time for reflection

Ask the children the following questions.

- Are we at peace with one another?
Have we had arguments that have upset others and made us sad?
Have we hurt someone?
Have we done something we should say sorry for?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, Advent is a good time to sort things out. It’s a good time to say sorry, make friends and put things right. If we do, we can be truly ready to celebrate Christmas in the right frame of mind.

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for Christmas, the time when we celebrate the precious gift of your son, Jesus.
Thank you for the peace he can bring to our hearts.
Please help us to use this season of Advent to prepare ourselves
so that we can enjoy Christmas, knowing that we are at peace with all those around us.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Flickering candles in the night’ (Come and Praise, 114)

Publication date: November 2016   (Vol.18 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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