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What Is Advent All About?

Short dramas and thoughts for the season of Advent

by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2008)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To consider Advent by linking present-day scenarios with verses from the first Christmas narrative.

Preparation and materials

  • For each letter of the word ADVENT, there is a keyword, a short drama, a question and a verse with a point to consider. A summary of the verses and the keywords for the Advent acrostic is available at the end of the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.

  • You don’t need to use all the material here. Choose which sections to use depending on the time available, both on the day and for preparation in advance.

  • You will need some students to perform the short dramas, and they will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly. You can perform the dramas with minimal props, or students could use their imagination with the costumes if given enough time!

Assembly

For many people, Advent is about opening a window on a calendar and eating a chocolate every day. Some churchgoers may also link Advent with lighting a special candle every Sunday until Christmas. But what is Advent really about?

Keyword: A is for Anticipation.

Drama (as a young child with an Advent calendar): Is it Christmas today? Mum, Mum, when is it Christmas? What number is it today? Just 3? What about the others? When is it 4? I’m so excited, I just can’t wait! Mum, Mum, is it Christmas tomorrow?

Question: What are you most looking forward to this Christmas? (Students’ responses to this question could be invited if time allows.)

Verse: ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ (Isaiah 9.2)

Six hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the people of Israel were living in exile. Oppressed and suffering, they were eagerly awaiting deliverance. They were looking forward to a Saviour with great anticipation.

Keyword: D is for Decisions.

Drama (as an elderly lady in town): Oh, what shall I get for Malcolm this year? I just can’t decide. How about socks? Everyone likes getting a pair of socks. Wool or cotton? What colour? So many decisions. And that’s just the start of it. Where to go on Christmas Day? When to open presents? Should we watch the Queen’s speech or have a snooze? My head’s tired just thinking of it.

Question: What’s the hardest decision you’ll have to make this Christmas? (Students’ responses to this question could be invited if time allows.)

Verse: ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ (Luke 2.15)

When the shepherds heard about the birth of Jesus, they had a difficult decision to make. Should they stay with their sheep and get on with their job, or risk everything to find the baby?

Keyword: V is for Visitors.

Drama (as a flustered housewife): I’ve got so much to do before they come. John, come and get rid of these socks – phew! Don’t get me wrong - I like having visitors. But Keith and Shirley, their house is immaculate. And ours is so shabby. (Doorbell rings.) Argh, that’s them. John, John, you’ll have to go. I’m not ready. I haven’t even done my hair. John, John, where are you?

Question: Would you rather have visitors or be a visitor? (Students’ responses to this question could be invited if time allows.)

Verse: ‘On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.’ (Matthew 2.11, the visit of the wise men)

That first Christmas, the baby Jesus had plenty of visitors. I wonder how many of us will find time to revisit the Christmas story this year?

Keyword: E is for Expectations.

Drama (as a little girl visiting Santa)Well, my name’s Shelley and I’m four. What do I want this Christmas? Well, Santa, now you’re asking. I want a pair of Barbie inline skates, size 11, and a Baby Expressions doll, with accessories, of course. I want a car and an iPad and that new computer game. Oh, yes, and some new clothes, and sweets . . . lots of sweets . . . and books and . . . What do you mean, ‘Next? Santa, I haven’t finished yet!

Question: What would you most like to get this Christmas? (Students’ responses to this question could be invited if time allows.)

Verse: ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ (Matthew 2.2)

Before Jesus was born, the Jews expected a mighty deliverer, a king who would come in power and glory. The wise men were expecting to find a newborn king. But this king was born in a stable to very simple, normal parents. Not what anyone could ever have expected!

Keyword: N is for News.

Drama (as a man sitting at a table eating breakfast and reading a newspaper): What’s that, dear? We’ve had a letter from who? The Joneses? Oh no, not another of those blooming Christmas newsletters. No, I don’t want to read it. No, I’m really not interested in Johnny’s operation on his big toe. No, nor Jenny’s ballet achievements. News, news. (Picks up newspaper.) None of it is news really. I’m fed up of bad news in here and good news in those letters. Where’s the real good news these days?

Question: Who has some good news to tell me? (Students’ responses to this question could be invited if time allows.)

Verse: ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’ (Luke 2.10–11)

The angels had good news to bring to the shepherds on that hill over 2,000 years ago. And still today, Christians believe that the birth of Jesus is good news for us all.

Keyword: T is for Thanksgiving.

Drama (as a wife opening a small box): Oh, darling, I can’t believe it. Have you really bought this for me? It’s gorgeous. And you really chose it yourself? It’s wonderful. Thank you, thank you! I love you.

Question: What’s the best present youve ever had? (Students’ responses to this question could be invited if time allows.)

Verse: ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9.15)

Christians believe that the best present of all time was Jesus coming to earth to be with us. They see the birth of Jesus as a gift from God.

Time for reflection

You may wish to pose the questions again during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly, allowing time for thought after each one.

Prayer
Dear God,
We thank you for this time of Advent:
A time to prepare ourselves,
A time to anticipate,
A time to enjoy our expectations.
We pray for those for whom Christmas is not a happy time,
And who are not looking forward to it at all.
Help us to take time this Advent to reflect on the birth of Jesus
And what it might mean for us and for those around us today.
Amen.

A summary of the keywords for the Advent acrostic used in the assembly is:

- A is for Anticipation
- D is for Decisions
- V is for Visitors
E is for Expectations
N is for News
T is for Thanksgiving

The verses used in the assembly are as follows.

- ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ (Isaiah 9.2)
‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ (Luke 2.15)
‘On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.’ (Matthew 2.11, the visit of the wise men)
‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ (Matthew 2.2)
‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’ (Luke 2.10–11)
‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9.15)

Publication date: November 2017   (Vol.19 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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