Gather the household around the Christmas tree. Turn on the lights or light candles. Open with prayer: God of light, we gather to hear the promises of your love to us. May we walk in your light and share your light and love with your creation. In your son, the light of the world, Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Isaiah 9: 2-7. As it is being read have paper, pencils, colored pencils, crayons and markers available. Draw the images that Isaiah offers here as it is being read. Maybe read it through more than once.
For children: (Note: some of the images are hard in this passage. Yet, many of our children are exposed to images of war and destruction. This can be a good time to talk openly about those things.) God wants us all to live in peace. What does the word peace mean to you? What does peace look like? What would you say to God in a prayer for peace?
For youth/adults: The promise of prosperity and peace is the focus of this passage. Yet, we know that those things are elusive in our world and it’s easy to think that tangible, financial prosperity is the true meaning of these promises of God. But prosperity in that sense of the word for people means poverty for others. What do you think God’s prosperity looks like in the world? When is “enough” stuff “enough” for us? How can we participate in God’s promise of everyone living in peace and stability? How can we encourage our neighbor to thrive? In this season of gift giving how can we celebrate the joy in giving gifts (this is not a bad thing!) to loved ones and not get caught up in the extravagance?
A great way to give gifts and walk alongside a local or global neighbor is to contribute to a favorite charity in honor of that person. Make a fun card and attach a small ornament or piece of Christmas candy to the card. Or make some cookies or other treats for neighbors without family.
Dear God, your light shines on us and lifts our burdens. You offer us promises of new life, peace and justice. May we rejoice in the gift given to us, your Son who reveals your love for all creation. Amen.
(Make the sign of the cross on one another) May you walk in the light of God.
Prepare: This series of children’s sermons in Advent will utilize your Advent wreath in your worship space. Each week the as the candle is lit you will explain what the candle means and then give them a take home. Please see the attached sheet. The sheet has an ornament to print and the devotion to print on the back of it. The devotion will change each week. Have a copy made on card stock for each child and household.
Gather the children to the Advent wreath. Say, Last week we talked about how much God loves us. God love us so much that God sent Jesus to show God’s love for the whole world. Who remembers why we light a candle each week? (Accept all answers) That’s right to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and that Jesus will come again to us. Last week we lit the candle of Love, this week we light the candle of Joy. How many candles do we have left to light? (Have an acolyte, or an older child light the three candles.)
What is joy? What things do you do or say when you are so happy that you can’t contain it? Who show me how they act when they are joyful or really happy? Did you know that God loves being joyful with you and about you? God rejoices everyday for you and God showed that joy by sending Jesus to us. Do you think that God wants us to share joy with people around us like our friends, brothers or sisters, mom or dad, aunts or uncles, grandmas and grandpas etc.? How can we do that? (By helping to feed hungry people, hugs, helping a friend or sibling, singing songs together, etc.) Yes, there are so many ways to show God’s joy to other people.
Each of you will get this candle ornament that you can take home and color blue (or purple if you do purple in Advent). You can hang it on your Christmas tree and each week you will get another one to add to the tree. So now you will have three. On the back is a Bible passage from Isaiah 12 to read, a prayer and a blessing. Look for all the ways that you see God’s joy in the world and tell your mom, dad, sister or brother about how shared God’s joy that day. You can do this at dinner, in the car or before bed. Let’s practice it now.
God of Joy, we sing for joy that you love us. We will sing your love to the whole world, amen.
Have everyone in the congregation turn to one another and say this blessing while making the sign of the cross on their forehead or hand: “Child of God you are free in God’s love.”