What Are You Waiting For?
by Rachel Noyce
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To reflect on the meaning of Advent for Christians today.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (What Are You Waiting For) and the means to display them.
- Optional: you will also need a packet of microwaveable popcorn, a large bowl and a microwave. If a microwave is not available, prepare a batch of microwaveable popcorn beforehand and place it in the bowl. Have an uncooked packet of popcorn available to show the children.
- Ask the children if they are hungry.
Ask if any of them like popcorn.
Show the children the microwaveable popcorn and place it in the microwave to begin the cooking process. (While it is cooking, continue with the assembly.)
- Ask the children if they have ever had to wait for something they’ve really been looking forward to, such as:
- waiting for a parcel to arrive in the post
- waiting to go on an amazing holiday
- waiting for a new baby brother or sister to arrive
Ask the following questions:
- how long did the children need to wait for these things?
- how did they feel while they were waiting?
- did they like having to wait?
Listen to a range of responses.
- Carefully remove the bag of cooked popcorn from the microwave. Describe how good it smells and invite some children to (carefully) smell it.
Ask the children if they would like some, but then explain that it’s too hot, so they will have to wait a little while longer.
- Ask the children if they are waiting for anything exciting at the moment. (Hopefully, at least one of them will mention Christmas!) Ask them what they are most looking forward to about Christmas.
Listen to a range of responses.
- It can feel like Christmas takes forever to come, especially when Christmassy things have been in the shops since the beginning of November. Still, however long we might feel we’ve been waiting for Christmas to arrive, it’s nothing compared to the wait for the first Christmas!
- Explain that the Bible tells a big story, about how God made the world and gave people instructions to help them live well in it. However, the people didn’t keep God’s instructions very well, and before long, there was fighting, sadness and loneliness.
- Show Slide 1.
Christians believe that God promised that he would send somebody who would fix the broken things. Over 2,500 years ago, a special person called the prophet Isaiah said the words, ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned . . . For to us a child is born . . . and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9.2,6)
In other words, God was going to send somebody who would get the world back on track, somebody who would bring peace and justice for all.
- So, the people waited. And waited. And waited. A hundred years passed. Two hundred years passed. FIVE hundred years passed and the people were still waiting!
Then, the Bible says that one day, an angel called Gabriel came to visit a young woman called Mary in the town of Nazareth, with the news that the wait was over. She was going to have a baby boy – and this baby would be the special someone who was going to make everything OK.
That baby boy would be called Jesus. And it’s his birth that we celebrate each Christmas Day.
- Check on the popcorn. Explain that it is still a little too hot and the children will need to wait a bit longer.
- Show Slide 2.
Ask the children if they have ever heard the word ‘Advent’.
Ask the following questions.
- Where have they heard the word?
- What does the word mean to them?
- What is their experience of Advent?
- Explain that we often think of Advent as a fun countdown to Christmas, or even a kind of ‘pre-Christmas’ where we get chocolates or presents all the way through December. However, for Christians, it is much more than this. During the season of Advent, Christians remember this long wait for Christmas, sharing that same longing to see the wrong things in the world made right again. They might take time to read and pray and spend time with God. They might take time to pray for the world and for peace and justice. They might take time to prepare their hearts for Christmas.
- Point out that for many of us, the wait for Christmas seems a long time. Many of us wish it was Christmas today! After all, waiting can be tough. However, there is something really special about the Advent season. Waiting gives us time to think and reflect. It gives us time to consider the past while still having that feeling of excitement and anticipation.
- Point out that for Christians, the anticipation isn’t just about time with family and friends, decorations or presents (although they are really exciting). It’s also about remembering that Jesus was born into the world, bringing light and hope. All of the lights that we see at Christmas are a reminder that Jesus is the light of the world.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to be quiet for a moment and think about a time when they have waited for something. Ask them to think about what they are looking forward to most at Christmas. Perhaps it’s the promise of presents, special time with family or just two weeks’ holiday that they’re longing for.
Ask the children to consider whether there are other things that they would love to see happen in the school or wider world. Maybe they would like to see peace in areas of the world where there is fighting and war. Maybe they would like to see the world become a happier, fairer, kinder place. Maybe they would like to see greater peace and goodwill to all, and no more sadness, loneliness, hunger or pain.
Ask the children to consider how they can play a part in helping to achieve these things in their homes, in school and in the wider world.
How could we shine a light in the darkness this Advent?
Thank you for Christmas: for the presents, the food and the fun.
Thank you that you sent your son, Jesus: the light of the world.
This Advent, as we count down the days until Christmas, please help us to show your light and love to the people we meet.
‘Love shone down’ by Boyce and Stanley, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyijhpaaEs8 (3.57 minutes long)