Faith + Open: Gather the household around your Advent wreath, Nativity display or Christmas tree. Light a candle on the Advent Wreath, light up your Christmas tree or just light a candle that is near by. Read Luke 1: 39-55. Have someone be the narrator, Elizabeth and Mary. The words of Mary in Luke 1: 46-55 are often referred to as the “Magnificat” or “Mary’s Song.” These words have been set to music by composers for hundreds of years. Listen to a child sing Marty Haugen’s version from Holden Evening Prayer on www.youtube.com.
Faith + Share: for children: Was there ever a time when you were so happy that you started singing a song? What song do you like to sing when you are happy? What is your favorite song from church or Sunday school? Make up a song about how much God loves you!
For youth/adults: Music is very much a part of our lives and can help us to express emotions, both joy and sorrow, that just mere word cannot. What kinds of music do like to listen to when you are happy? Feeling sorrow or a bit melancholy? Mary’s song was just not about happy emotion but about what God is doing in the world. It was an expression of justice, hope and solidarity. These words in the Magnificat are not only what God has done but what God will do in the future. When have you witnessed these actions of God in your own life or in the world? How are we to be a part of God’s actions of justice, hope and solidarity?
Faith + Blessing: After each meal time, bed time or other prayer close with the words “May our spirit rejoice in the God our Savior, amen.” You can also exchange the sign of the cross as you say these words in your household.
Faith +Serve: One of the ways that we can participate in God’s actions of justice, hope and solidarity in our community is to partner with other community organizations. Write and/or create Christmas cards to take to an assisted living facility. Maybe even do a little Christmas caroling while you are there dropping off the cards!
Faith + Close: God our Savior, you care so deeply for all of the world. Help our spirits to sing a song of hope, mercy and love to a world that is straining to hear it. We give you thanks for the great things you do for all of your people and pray for the hungry to be full, the lowly lifted up, for all to be looked upon with favor. May our spirit rejoice in the God our Savior, amen.
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Scripture: Luke 1:26-28
Preparation: a newspaper
Author note: Adapted from a children’s sermon by Pastor David Barber which was adapted from a Sundays and Seasons idea (Augsburg Fortress)
Faith+Open: Gather children to you. Good morning! Anyone know how many days until Christmas? Allow for answers (you might get some funny ones!) Yes we are waiting for Christmas and while we wait in Advent we share the good news of Jesus coming. How many of you read the paper? Show the newspaper you brought with you and take some responses.
Faith+Share: What kind of stories do newspapers tend to have? Allow for responses.There are some news stories that tell of good things but a lot of news we hear or read in our paper is bad news. We read about wars and children who are hungry or people who are hurting. (Use some current, appropriate, examples). I’m wondering, are we people of bad news or good news? Allow for responses. We are people of good news! When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and to the Shepherds, he was bringing them good news about Jesus birth and we bring good news to others. What is the good news we have to share? Yes our good news is that Jesus is coming and what is Jesus bringing? Jesus is bring light and love and peace and joy and we share this with others–because we are messengers just like the angels were messengers so long ago when Jesus was born we are messengers now that tell others the Christmas story so they know that God is with us all the time. We can live and enjoy the good news for ourselves but we also share the good news with others so they can experience the love of God as well.
Faith+Prayer: Loving Jesus, Thank you for this advent season. Thank you for the angels that bring good news. Help us to be messengers of Jesus light and love. Amen
Faith+Blessing:May the light of Christ be with you today and all your days. +
Scripture Focus: John 1:6-28
Preparation: Simple nativity set or picture
Faith+Open: Gather children to you. Show them the nativity set or scene. Ask them to tell you who they know about in this scene. Name the different people present.
Faith+Share: Is there anyone that is important to the Christmas story that is not here? See what they say. There could be several answers… or they might just say no… or they might look at you blankly!
Our Gospel today comes from the Gospel of John. And we heard/will hear about a man named John the Baptizer. Has anyone heard of him? Well he was a cousin to Jesus, Elizabeth is his mom and Mary went to visit her while they were both pregnant, Mary with Jesus and Elizabeth with John. John knew about Jesus, he know that his cousin was one who would come to bring light into the world, to show people just how loved they are by God. John wanted everyone to know this as well so he did all he could to tell the people to get ready for Jesus to come—not just be born but to show up and walk with them and talk with them. John was so serious about this that he started baptizing people to help them get ready. He wanted them to hear that their sins were washed away and that were loved by God. So, John was not in the manger when Jesus was born, he was just a baby himself, but John is an important part of our Christmas story because he reminds us that while we wait in Advent we are not just preparing for Christmas, we are telling the world this great story!
You know, I think someone else is missing from this nativity scene too. Each one of you. Because the Christmas story is not just John’s story and it’s not just Jesus’ story, it’s your story too because you are loved by God and Jesus came to show you the way too.
Faith+Prayer: Jesus, we watch and we listen and we wait for Christmas. Help us to tell our story about Jesus birth and about your love to our family and our friends and our neighbors. Amen
Faith+Blessing:May the light of Christ be with you today and all your days. +
Scripture: Mark 1:1-8
Preparation: You will need to prepare one volunteer–it can be a child or youth or adult. They will be the one to go behind the altar (or other designated space) and try to get a message to the child volunteer you ask for during the children’s sermon.
Faith+Open: Gather the children to you. Today we hear in gospel that John the Baptist was one of the people who was trying to get the message out that Jesus was coming and to prepare the way of the Lord. So, I was thinking, getting the message can be really important and we in advent can listen for the message of love and hope in Christmas.
Faith+Share: So, I want to try something, kind of like telephone but ‘whole church telephone’. I need a volunteer, anybody here think they are good listener? Pick a child who you think can go to the back of the church comfortably. Ok, you look like a good listener. Can you go to back of the church (say something like by the baptismal font, or last row, or by doors to indicate where you would like he/she to go). Send your other volunteer to the opposite end, like behind the altar for example. Great, now I’m going to ask ___________ (your prepared volunteer) to say a message to you from across the room. I want you to listen to the message and repeat it back. But first, I think we need everyone’s help. I need the whole assembly to talk too. Just turn to your neighbor and have a conversation for a few moments while ___________ sends his message. Once people are talking look at volunteer to give his/her message. It can be something like “prepare the way of the Lord” or “Christ is coming”. This person should not scream it or use a microphone. The point is that the other person CAN’T hear them. After a moment get everyone quiet again.
Ok, so what was the message? What, you can’t hear? I thought you were a good listener! No, you’re right, there was so much noise and talking going on that you couldn’t hear the message. Let’s try again but this time without people talking.
What was the message? (child should be able to repeat this time)
So come on back. In Advent we are waiting and preparing for Christmas. Sometimes though there is so much noise and so much distraction that we forget what we are preparing for. John the Baptist wanted people to prepare and to know that God was coming to be with them. And that is what we are focused on now, how God comes to us as a baby and as a kid and as a grown up and how God walks with us even now and wants us to hear the message that God is with us and loves us. That is what we always watch for in our daily lives, for Christ to be present in the world.
Faith+Prayer Let us pray together or repeat after me: God, we watch for you and hope for you. Help us to see you and prepare for you each day and in this Advent time. Amen.
Faith+Blessing: May the light of Christ be with you today and all your days. +
Scripture: Mark 13:24-37
Supplies: a pair of binoculars
Faith+Open: Gather children to you. Hold up your binoculars and start using them to look around the sanctuary. Oh wow! Look at that–the colors are new! Oh my there are new candles and a wreath and a tree. Hhhmm, I heard it is Advent and I’m supposed to watch for something. Do you know what I’m watching and waiting for? Pause and take responses. Keep looking through your binoculars and pondering what you see.
Faith+Share: I read in the gospel of Mark that we are to keep watch and waiting. And it’s Advent so we watch and wait for Jesus. So, do I need these binoculars for what we are watching for? You don’t think so? But I want to see God right away and isn’t God far away? …. It seems like in Advent we watch for God we also know that God is near. So maybe I don’t need these binoculars to see God. Hhhmmm, what are the ways we know God is around us? Take responses. Focus in on how we can see God working in the acts of love around us in the world. And while we wait for Christmas, we can focus on how we see the light of Christ around us during this time when it’s dark longer. At this time of year we say Christ is our Light because we think about God being the one that gives us light and hope. In our Gospel today and in all of Advent we talk about how we are waiting and watching for God’s light. We can call those Godsightings–like when we see or hear stories of people helping others or acts of love. God is all around us and working in our world today. Where can you watch for God this week? Take responses.
Faith+Prayer: This week, watch for God in all you do. Keep a list or tell your family at dinner what you saw.
Prayer with me: Christ our light, shine us while we wait. Help us see you each day and know that your love is with us always. Amen
May the light of Christ be with you today and all your days. +
Have a candle cut out (or binoculars) with Christ written on it and have kids take it back to their seats and write where they can watch for God this week.