Advent: the Candle
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To use candles as a starting point for thinking about Advent.
Preparation and materials
If possible, this assembly should be held on the first Monday in Advent.
You will need a selection of candles of different shapes and sizes, including birthday candles.
You will also need an Advent candle.
Show the selection of candles to the children.
Invite volunteers to the front to hold the candles, which should remain unlit. If scented candles are available, invite children to smell the candles and perhaps decide on their favourite fragrance.
Talk about how candles have become very popular in recent times. Sometimes, people have candles in their home because they like the shape or colour, so they are used simply for decoration. Sometimes, people choose candles for their smell, such as lavender or rose.
Ask the children if they can think of any other reasons why people might buy candles. One example might be celebratory candles, such as those on a birthday cake. If there is a child who has a birthday during the week, you may like to ask the child to hold the unlit birthday candles while the rest of the children sing ‘Happy birthday’.
Lead the children into thinking about the chief use of candles: for giving light. Today, candles might only be used to give light in an emergency such as a power cut. However, in the past, people needed candles so that they could see at night!
Ask the children if any of them have Advent calendars.
Listen to a range of responses.
Explain that, as people move towards Christmas, some use Advent calendars that might have chocolate or a little picture inside to count down the days, and some use an Advent candle.
Show the Advent candle to the children.
Make the following points.
- Advent candles are sold in shops so that people can count down to Christmas. An Advent candle has 25 sections marked on it, in the same way that an Advent calendar usually has 25 doors.
- For Christians, the season of Advent is a time for looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Advent is an exciting time, with lots of preparations being made for Christmas Day.
- Advent means ‘coming’, so Christians remember how everything was prepared for the coming of Jesus into the world.
- Advent starts at the darkest time of the year for us. It usually begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts until the bells ring in the Christmas festival at midnight on Christmas Eve.
Time for reflection
Christians believe that Jesus is the ‘light of the world’. The candle reminds Christians that the coming of Jesus ‘turns darkness into light’.
As we move towards Christmas and get excited about what lies ahead, let’s pause to remember the real meaning of Christmas: the arrival of a tiny baby who would change the world.
In a moment of stillness, ask the children to focus their attention on the Advent candle and to think about what it stands for. After a period of silence, ask the children to listen to the words of the following prayer.
Thank you for the Advent candle.
In the dark days of the year, it reminds us
To think about Jesus coming into the world to bring light, joy and peace.
At the end of the prayer, extinguish the Advent candle. Explain to the children that the candle will be lit each day in assembly until school breaks up for the Christmas holidays.
‘Flickering candles in the night’ (Come and Praise, 114)
- RE. Learn about and make an Advent ring (or Advent wreath), which is used in many churches during Advent. It usually has four candles - one for each Sunday in Advent - and a large, white one in the centre to represent Jesus. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
- Art and design. Make a large, wall-mounted Advent calendar, each window opening to show a child’s painting of some aspect of Christmas.