Christmas Is Coming!
Advent is just around the corner
by Alison Thurlow (revised, originally published in 2014)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To use the approach of Advent to consider the Christian belief that ‘Christmas starts with Christ’.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Christmas Is Coming!) and the means to display them.
- Optional: you may wish to have available an Advent calendar that has pictures of the Nativity to show during the assembly.
- Ask the children to help you with some counting. Encourage them to count together as follows, starting slowly and getting faster and louder as you go.
- From 1 to 10.
- From 1 to 30.
- Backwards from 10 to 0.
- Backwards from 25 to 0.
- Ask whether anyone can guess why you have asked them to count backwards from 25 to 0 at this time of year. If necessary, give the children a clue.
- Explain that you expect that many of the children are counting down the days until Christmas.
Ask if anyone had an Advent calendar last year. Are they expecting to have one this year too?
- Point out that there are several types of Advent calendar.
Show Slides 1 to 3.
Optional: show the children the Advent calendar that has pictures of the Nativity, if available.
- Ask the children whether they have ever wondered how the Advent calendar got its name.
Explain that Christians describe the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day as Advent. It’s a time when they prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Point out that this year, Advent starts on Sunday 3 December – but we will start opening our Advent calendars on 1 December.
- Continue by saying that there seems to be a lot of counting down happening at this time of year as people get ready for Christmas.
- Posters and magazines have Christmas dinner countdowns, telling people when to buy their turkey and when to make or ice their Christmas cake.
- TV adverts have countdowns that inform people of the number of shopping days left, and offer present-buying ideas.
- Royal Mail produces leaflets that tell us the latest dates that we can post Christmas cards and parcels.
- Children, parents, carers and teachers count down how many days of school are left before the Christmas holidays begin!
- Explain that there is a lot of counting down in the Christmas story in the Bible too.
More than 2,000 years ago, a young girl called Mary was counting down the days until her baby would be born. It must have felt like a very long time to wait, but it was worth it because Christians believe that Mary’s baby was Jesus, God’s own son.
Much longer ago than that, however, the Jewish people had been waiting and counting down to the time when Mary’s special baby would be born, a baby who would change the world. We can read about the wait for this baby in the Old Testament part of the Bible in Isaiah 9.6.
Show Slide 4.
Time for reflection
If appropriate, explain that Christians believe that Jesus was the baby mentioned in Isaiah. They think that he was the eagerly awaited baby who, when he grew up, would change the world. For this reason, amid all the other busy things that happen during the countdown to Christmas, Christians try to make time to remember what they are really celebrating at Christmas: the birth of Jesus.
Suggest to the children that, each day when they open a door on their Advent calendar, they could use the time to pause and reflect on what they are really celebrating this Christmas.
Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank you for the excitement of starting to get ready for Christmas.
As we open our Advent calendars, please help us to remember the story of your birth.
Any appropriate Christmas song!