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To examine the meaning of the season of Advent.

by Dan Rogers

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To examine the meaning of the season of Advent.

Preparation and materials

  • You need to prepare your tins of food. Open three different tins (e.g. beans, fruit, peas) at the top, very carefully, take out the contents and wash. Now swap the contents of the tins, and carefully re-seal them using sellotape. If you can’t make this work effectively, then don’t open the tin all the way round, so you have a ‘hinge’, and just push the lid down. It’s advisable not to include all the liquid. Watch out for tin edges, they are sharp!


  1. Today’s assembly is on the theme of Advent. Advent is the period of expectation before and leading up to Christmas. Show the three tins (whose labels say: beans, fruit, peas).
  2. Ask three volunteers to open the tins. Do they find what they were expecting in the tins? What is in the tins isn’t what is on the labels!
  3. Ask the students: What are you expecting for Christmas this year? Invite responses.

    Give examples of unexpected presents you’ve received: one year I expected to get … but I got a PC! Another year I got a … but I was only expecting a …

    The point is, sometimes we get things that we are not expecting.
  4. Let’s read Isaiah 9.6–7, which is a prophecy about the coming Chosen One of the Jews, the person they called the ‘Messiah’:

    For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
    authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
    Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    His authority shall grow continually,
    and there shall be endless peace
    for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
    with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onwards and for evermore.
  5. Based on this prophecy, the Jews were expecting their coming Chosen One to be a powerful military ruler, so when Jesus came, some were disappointed in him. Some of them even totally rejected the idea that he could be their Chosen One, because he wasn’t what they had been expecting him to be.

    What they didn’t realize was that what came to them in Jesus was better than what they had been expecting, and hoping for, in a powerful ruler!

Time for reflection

This Christmas, maybe you will get what you hoped for, maybe you won’t.

Maybe your expectations will be met in the way you thought they would, maybe they won’t.

Sometimes we get things that are different from what we were expecting.

When God is involved they are usually better then what we had been expecting …

Perhaps you’d like to consider what you’ve been hoping for …

You might like to use these words as a prayer:


Lord God,

No matter what I want,

no matter what I think I need,

help me to remember that when you came

you were not what people were expecting.

Help me to recognize the love and care that lie behind everything that I’m given this Christmas,

and be thankful.


Publication date: November 2008   (Vol.10 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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