A Ministry of Make and Deepen Disciples

Seven Ways of Involving Children in Advent

In September I was walking through a store that already had Christmas decorations on sale. Among all the glittering gold and silver ornaments and red and green ribbon were snowmen, reindeer, and Santa Claus—but nothing that spoke to what the true anticipation of Christmas is all about.

To be sure, it was a place of wonder for children, but what kind of wonder environment do we want to be creating for our children? True wonder should be found in traditions during this season of waiting that help us live into anticipation. The wonder of Christmas is that we have a God who loves us deeply enough to step into the vastness of his creation as an infant, as one of us. God with us.

Advent is about this wonder, this waiting, this anticipation. So what might traditions of Advent look like for children that will foster wondering about the true nature of Christmas?

Here are seven ways to involve children in Advent at home and church that help capture the true wonder and anticipation of Christmas.

  1. Advent Story

Read portions of the Advent and Christmas story each day from an age appropriate bible and have children tell the story using the items from the Creche below.

  • The angel comes to Mary (Luke 1:26-3)
  • The angel comes to Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25)
  • Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7)
  • The shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
  • The wisemen (Matthew 2:1-12)
  • Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  • Anna (Luke 2:36-38)

 

  1. Advent Crèche

Over several days, spend time making a creche together. Begin with a shoe box or something similar to create a place for the coming of Jesus. You can add real straw or substitute strips of paper. Next, make a small manger and create animals out of playdough or paper. Later use the playdough or paper to also make angels, the owner of the house, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus as a baby. Finally, add shepherds, wisemen, and Simeon and Anna.

 

  1. Advent Walk

Look for seeds (acorns, pinecones, weeds, grasses, dead flowers, apples, etc.) and talk about how the seed is the anticipation of life to come and about what the seed will become. Or look at trees which have lost their leaves and talk about what they will look like next spring. Explain that Advent is like that. It’s the hope and anticipation of something to come. That something is Jesus our Savior who makes seeds grow into plants, who gives us life, and who promises us life after death. Explain that Advent is a reminder of the waiting for Jesus and the coming of Christmas.

 

  1. Advent Wreath

Make wreathes with children and/or parents in church to take home. You will need some garland and wire to shape into a wreath and four candles for each child. Families can use these together with the advent journal below.

 

  1. Advent Prayer Journal

Families can come together each day for an Advent prayer to share Jesus moments, how they feel about why Jesus came, struggles each person is facing, things they are thankful for, and prayers for others. Families can write these down each day and refer back to them throughout Advent.

 

  1. Advent Procession

During the season of Advent, invite children to process in at the beginning of worship each Sunday with lanterns and lay them at the foot of the cross and/or manger. The lanterns are a reminder of the light of Christ to come. The children may also kneel near the lantern they have placed while one of the children reads a brief prayer to begin worship.

 

  1. Advent BLESSing

Just as we have been blessed by the coming of Jesus, let’s consider how we might bless others. Families can brainstorm ways they might do this or use the BLESS resource found here: CovChurch.org/BLESS.

Families have a lot of pre-Christmas traditions, many having nothing to do with Advent. This year, let’s help our families pick out one or more of these Advent practices to establish new traditions that capture the true wonder and meaning of Advent—that God came to live as one of us, to show us what it means to love one another, to suffer as one of us, and to die as one of us, but then to rise and welcome us into new life and eternity.

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Steve Burger

Steve is the Director of Children, Family and Intergenerational Ministries for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has served churches in New York and Minnesota with his wife Marti, prior to serving in his present position. Their daughter Melissa Wall serves as Pastor of Deer Grove Covenant Church, Palatine, IL, son-in-law, Fredrik serves in the ECC Denominational Offices, and their son Paul and his wife Britta are pastors at Bethany Covenant Church in Mt Vernon, WA. Steve can recall moments from infancy and feels closest to God when he is with children. He is committed to supporting and partnering with those who minister with children, families and intergenerational communities of faith.

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