Welcome to the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent, this Sunday, November 27.
What an exciting time of year!
This Sunday we focus on getting ready to enter the mystery of Christmas. It's perfect timing then for us to focus on the prophets' telling that something big was about to happen in Bethlehem. The people didn't know exactly what or when, but they were told to get ready, to watch and wait.
Our Godly Play lesson begins with a discussion of the color change at church to purple, the color of kings. It's a great time to talk about what kind of king the people expected, and how God surprised them all.
One thing to note: the Godly Play Advent lessons don't come with wondering questions at the end. I think it's so helpful to have some discussion questions to let the children process their thoughts on the lessons, so I've included some of my own questions for this Sunday at the bottom of this blog post. I've put copies of these for the storyteller and the person writing the responses in each of your classrooms.
Making a Gift for God
When it comes time to help the children decide what work they want to do--what kind of gift to God they want to make in appreciation for the story, there are several paths they can take, each exploring different themes to the lesson.
Some of the themes include:
1. The theme of Advent--getting ready.
2. The theme of who prophets are and what did they do and say.
3. The idea of Jesus being a light to the world. (Since we light candles each week in Advent)
Here are some "Gift to God" ideas to add to your own:
For exploring Advent...
1. Make an advent wreath together, or have each child make his own. You could do this three dimensionally, with quick drying clay and candles (why not collect greenery to add to it? or pinecones, etc) or two dimensionally, out of construction paper. (If you'd like more direction, look here.)
For exploring the Prophets...1. Let the children look up some of the verses in which the prophets predict Jesus' birth or a leader coming out of Bethlehem.
"But you, Bethlehem in Ephrathah, small as you are to be among Judah's clans, out of you shall come forth a governor for Israel, one whose roots are far back in the past, in days gone by." -Micah 5:2
King Herod called a meeting of the chief priests and lawyers of the Jewish people, and asked them: "Where is the Messiah to be born?" "At Bethlehem in Judaea", they replied; and they referred him to the prophecy which reads: "Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are far from least in the eyes of the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a leader to be the shepherd of my people Israel." Matthew 2:1-6 - NEB
"Surely the Messiah is not to come from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Messiah is to be of the family of David, from David's village of Bethlehem?" John 7:41,42 - NEB
Isaiah 7:14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
2. The children might want to make a model like the one we use of Bethlehem. They could use their own ideas of what Bethlehem might have looked like, or they could use books to research it.
3. Another option would be for the kids to divide a paper in half (or a mural on butcher paper.) It could be titled something like, "A King Is Coming..." On one side they could draw or list what people expected the king to look like, and on the other side they could draw a manger scene with Baby Jesus.
For exploring Jesus as the Light of the Word, the children could make candle cookies like this one here.
Susan D'Amato had our fourth graders do this one year and they loved it.
The directions are here. (http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/a-light-dessert-800789/)
Here are the wondering questions I've come up with for this week's lesson. Enjoy!
1. I wonder about getting ready. I wonder what your family does to get ready to celebrate Christmas.
2. 2. I wonder if there are special things you might do at your house to remember what Christmas is really all about.
3. 3. The prophets told the people of God that a new king was coming. I wonder what you think they expected. What kind of king do you think they thought he would be?
4. 4. I wonder what you think about why God sent Jesus as a baby.
5. 5. In our time together today, we talked about how prophets know the most important things and show the way. I wonder what it’s like to be a prophet.
6. 6. I wonder how God feels about God’s prophets.