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Pause for Thought: A Long Wait

An Advent assembly

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To consider what it means to wait for something, with specific reference to the season of Advent.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a Bible to show the children during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.


  1. Explain that you are going to read out a list of synonyms and you want the children to try to guess the root word. Ask them to put their hand up when they think they know the answer.

    The synonyms are: delay, pause, interval, postpone, put off, hold back and hold up.

    Point out that some antonyms, or opposites, of the root word are: move, go now and proceed.

  2. Ask the children what the root word is. (The answer is ‘wait’.) Go on to give examples of when we might need to wait for a short time at school.

    - Waiting for our turn to use a pencil sharpener or rubber on our table.
    - Waiting for breaktime or lunchtime to start.
    - Waiting for our teacher or another adult to help us during lesson time.
    - Waiting in a queue for our school dinner.
    - Waiting for our turn in a game with our friends.
    - Waiting to be collected at the end of the school day.

  3. Point out that there are times at school when we might have to wait for a few weeks or months for something to happen.

    - Waiting for our year group or class’s turn for swimming lessons.
    - Waiting for each half-term to end so that we can enjoy the holidays.
    - Waiting for after-school football or netball matches against other schools.
    - Waiting for our favourite lessons or topic.

  4. Point out that sometimes, we might need to wait for a year or even longer for something to happen.

    - Waiting for our birthday.
    - Waiting for a school trip or camp to happen.
    - Waiting to move up to our next year group.
    - Waiting to move to secondary school.
    - Waiting to compete in the next school sports day.
    - Waiting for the summer holidays.

  5. Ask the children, ‘What are you waiting for right now?’

    Listen to a range of responses and discuss. You might get the word ‘Christmas’ straightaway!

    Christmas-related answers might include the following.

    - Waiting for Christmas.
    - Waiting to decorate the Christmas tree.
    - Waiting to unwrap Christmas presents.
    - Waiting to open the doors on our Advent calendar.
    - Waiting to eat Christmas cake, chocolates and mince pies.

    Someone might suggest that Father Christmas is waiting to start his journey around the world and deliver all the presents to the children who have behaved well!

  6. Ask the following questions.

    - Does anybody know the word that is used to describe the time of waiting and preparation for Christmas? (Answer: ‘Advent’.)
    - Can anyone describe what Advent is and when it starts? (Answer: Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas Day and is a time of waiting and preparation. For Christians, it is a time to prepare, wait and think about why we celebrate Christmas.)
    - What do Christians celebrate at Christmas? (Answer: the birth of God’s son, baby Jesus.)

  7. Point out that many people have Advent calendars in the build-up to Christmas. Advent calendars were invented to help with the time of waiting, preparation and counting down the days to Christmas Day. Many children get very excited when they open the door on 24 December because it means that Christmas Day is nearly here.

Time for reflection

Ask the children whether they have ever looked forward for a long time to a special event.

Listen to a range of responses.

Possible answers might include the birth of a baby brother or sister, a wedding in the family or going on a holiday.

Explain that when we really want something to happen, it can feel like time goes very slowly in the run-up to the event.

Show the Bible to the children.

Point out that the Bible is a book of two halves: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Holding open the Bible, show a section of the Old Testament to the children and explain that the Old Testament was written before Jesus was born.

Keeping open the Bible, show a section of the New Testament to the children and explain that the New Testament was written after Jesus died. It describes his birth and his life and contains stories about him. It also includes stories about Paul and how Christianity spread around the Roman Empire.

Explain that in many parts of the Bible, people had to wait a long time for things to happen. There was also a gap of hundreds of years between the Old and New Testaments being written. People were waiting a long time for Jesus to be born. 

After Jesus was born, he also had to wait: he didn’t start his special work until he was 30 years old.  Jesus didn’t start God’s work any earlier because he knew that it wasn’t the right time.

Christians believe that during Advent, it is important to think about why Jesus was born. Christmas can become so busy with wonderful celebrations, putting up trees and giving and receiving presents that the real meaning of Christmas can be forgotten. Focusing on Jesus in the lead-up to Christmas can help us to remember that Christmas is a celebration that God sent his son, Jesus, into the world. Christians believe that Jesus grew up to change the world through his teaching, death and resurrection.

Dear God,
Thank you for the excitement of waiting for things to happen.
Thank you for the excitement of Advent.
As we look forward to Christmas, please help us to remember its true meaning.
Please help us to remember the birth of Jesus.


‘Away in a manger’, available at: (1.59 minutes long)

Publication date: November 2021   (Vol.23 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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