Get Ready – Advent

Aim:

To help the children to think about getting ready for Christmas, and what Christmas is about.

Bible base:

Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1 and Luke 1.  The birth of Jesus.

You will need:

A bag of objects which give clues to special events eg sunglasses and suntan cream for a holiday; some baby powder and a bib for a new baby; some make-up and a hat for a wedding; some decorations and an Advent calendar.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Play a guessing game with the objects in a bag, asking what the children think you might be getting ready for with each pair of things.
  2. Ask what they have seen happening as people get ready for Christmas – shopping, baking, putting up decorations etc.

Story

Christmas is the time when people celebrate Jesus being born as a baby.  Hundreds of years before Jesus was born at the first Christmas, God helped people to be ready for his coming.  He sent lots of different people as messengers to tell everyone to be ready, because one day God’s special person would come.

These are some of the words that one of them, Isaiah, said ‘A child is born to us!  A son is given to us!  And he will be our ruler.  He will be called “Wonderful Counsellor”, “Mighty God”, “Eternal Father”, “Prince of Peace”.’ (Isaiah 9:6, Good News Bible)

Finally God sent an angel to tell Mary to get ready, because this wonderful baby would be born to her.

Show again the baby things that you have, and explain how Mary would not have got these sort of things together to be ready, but she would have made some preparations.

God also sent a message to Joseph, to tell him to get ready for the coming of Jesus, this very special baby.

Application

  1. Ask why they think God went to so much trouble, telling people to get ready.
  2. Explain that Jesus was born so we could know God better and understand how much he loves us.
  3. Christians call this time of year Advent, a time to be ready for Jesus’ coming.  Suggest that as the children get ready for Christmas they remember the coming of Jesus too. If they have an Advent calendar at home they could remember Jesus as they open the door each day.

Prayer

Ask the children for ideas of what excites them about getting ready for Christmas, and use these as a short prayer to say ‘thank you’ to God for each of these, and for Jesus.

Song suggestion

Come and join the celebration, 323, Junior Praise

Get Ready – Advent

Bible base

Matthew 2:1–12

Aim

To encourage students to think about why we celebrate Christmas.

Things you’ll need

  • 2 boxes.
  • Sheets of Christmas wrapping paper, pre-cut if necessary, ready to wrap the boxes.
  • 2 rolls of sticky tape.
  • 8 envelopes.
  • 8 cards.
  • 2 address lists (4 addresses on each).
  • 8 mince pies.
  • 2 sets of words of a carol.
  • 4 Christmas chocolates as prizes.
  • 3 more boxes, one wrapped in gold and the two others in plain colours, labelled with large letters: ‘gold’, ‘frankincense’ and ‘myrrh’.

Preparation

• Before the assembly begins, set up a table with all the items necessary in place for the team game. As far as possible, make sure that the table is arranged so that the audience can see the teams’ efforts.

• Place the three gifts of the ‘Wise Men’ separately to avoid them getting spoilt in the team game. These could be put on view to act as a focus through the assembly.

Presentation

1 Start by talking about getting ready for Christmas and students’ preparations. Ask for eight volunteers to take part in team game.

Note: check for food allergies.

2 Have two teams of four people in each. Explain that both teams have to complete four activities to do with getting ready for Christmas. The activities are:

  • Wrap up a ‘gift’.
  • Write four cards and put each in its envelope which must be addressed.
  • Eat four mince pies.
  • Sing a carol.

Involve the audience by having one half supporting Team A and the others supporting Team B. Give prizes to the winning team and encourage applause for all the volunteers.

3 When everyone is quiet again, comment that this time of year coming up to Christmas is called Advent. It’s the time when Christians get ready for Christmas – not just wrapping presents and writing cards – but by thinking about the reason for Christmas.

If appropriate to your audience, ask them what they think are reasons for Christmas (eg presents, parties etc). Say that, really, it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

4 Talk about the story of the Wise Men. Ask the students if they can remember what gifts they brought to Jesus. Explain that each of their gifts tell us something about who Jesus is and what he had come to do.

5 Now, show the audience each of your ready-prepared, labelled gifts.

Gold

Say that gold was thought of as a gift for a king. Christians believe that Jesus is a King – God’s Son – and his special gift to us.

Frankincense

Explain that this was a substance with a strong smell which was used by priests, like incense. A priest was someone who talked to God on behalf of the people. Christians believe that Jesus, a bit like a priest, came to help us know God and show us what he is like.

Myrrh

Myrrh was a substance that was used to cover bodies before they were buried. Explain that Christians believe that this gift reminds us about Jesus’ death for us – so that we could be put right with God.

Reflection

Encourage the students, as they get ready for Christmas this year, to take some time to think about these questions:

  • Where is Jesus in your Christmas?
  • How could you and your family include him in the festivities which started because of his birth?

Response

In a time of quiet, encourage students to pray, or lead with a short prayer yourself, using this or similar outline:

  • Thanks for Christmas and fun: What do they especially enjoy about Christmas?
  • Thanks for Jesus: Ask them to think about the three gifts of the Wise Men and what those tell us about Jesus. Give thanks for his coming to earth for us.
  • Ask God’s help to remember Jesus this Christmas.

Note: Check first with school that it is OK for you to offer mince pies to students and that this isn’t a problem regarding possible food allergies.

 

 

Message for Theophilus! – Advent

Bible base:

Luke 1:1-4

Teaching objectives:

To introduce the Christian belief that Luke’s Gospel is a true record of Jesus’ life.

You will need:

  • Two large sheets of paper.
  • Two marker pens
  • A copy of Luke’s Gospel
  • The words ‘What God has done’ on a large piece of paper

Optional:

  • Magazine about famous people;
  • Luke 1:1-4 on large cards

Introductory activity:

Imagine meeting a famous person and chatting with them! Who would you want to meet? (You may wish to have a copy of a magazine of famous people with you to give some examples of some of the people they could meet.)

Take some of the pupils’ suggestions, and choose two who have chosen very different people to come to the front. (Make sure that you choose two pupils who can write clearly; ask members of staff to help if in doubt. It would also be advisable to choose older pupils). Explain to the chosen pupils that they are going to write a letter to someone to tell them about their celebrity encounter.

Give each pupil one of the sheets of paper and a marker pen, and place them at either side of the assembly hall (the rest won’t see it until it’s read out).

Ask them to write down the following pieces of information in big letters. After writing each item, they should fold the paper down so that the words are hidden and then swap sheets with the other pupil, like a game of ‘consequences’. (You may wish to have prepared two sheets in advance, in the form of a letter, with the pupils merely filling in gaps, which will keep the activity moving quickly.)

They should write down the following information:

  • Who they are writing to (e.g. ‘Dear mum, dad, granny’)
  • Who they meet (e.g. a film star, a pop star, royalty)
  • What they say to the famous person
  • What the famous person says to them
  • What the result is

As they are doing this, ask the assembly to think of who they would put in the story if they were writing it.

Read out the ‘letters’, adding in the necessary words to make full sentences. They may be either funny or nonsensical: comment accordingly.

The letters are jumbled because they are a mixture of two different accounts written about imaginary encounters with two very different people. Neither of the pupils has actually met their famous person, so their accounts do not really help us get to know this person better.

Choose one of the famous people and ask the pupils how they would find out more information about what this person is like. Possible suggestions: Internet, magazines, newspaper articles, interviewing people who know them etc.

Two thousand years ago a man called Luke wanted to write a letter to his friend Theophilus about Jesus. How could he have found out more about Jesus? Without the Internet or international media sources, Luke went to the most accurate source of information – people who knew Jesus, or had met Him and had seen what He had done in His life. Once Luke had gathered all the information, he wrote it all down in a long letter to Theophilus. (If you have large cards of the opening verses of Luke’s Gospel, show it to the assembly now, explaining that this is how Luke begins his letter.)

Show the pupils a copy of Luke’s Gospel.

This is a copy of the letter that Luke wrote to his friend. Imagine if Luke had not written it all down, but had just told Theophilus all that he had discovered. We might never have heard all the stories that are recorded in this part of the Bible.

The New Living Translation refers to the eyewitnesses’ reports of ‘what God has done’. Show these words to the assembly. Christians believe that Luke’s story, and the whole Bible, is the story of ‘what God has done’.

Optional prayer time:

Thank God that Luke did write all his stories down, so that we can read them too and learn more about Jesus.

 

 

 

Message for Zechariah! – Advent

Bible base:

Luke 1:5-25

Teaching objectives:

To show that Christians believe God answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is unbelievable, but they believe he can be trusted.

You will need:

  • Chewy fruit sweets which are sold in tightly-wrapped paper.
  • Clothes to dress up two pupils – one boy and one girl – as old people, eg a tweed jacket, a shawl, an old-fashioned handbag, etc.
  • Two envelopes addressed to Zechariah, with ‘God’ written on the back as the sender’s name. One envelope should contain the words “Your wife, Elizabeth, will have a son’ and the other the words, ‘He will persuade people to turn to God and will prepare the way for God’s Son.’

Introductory activity:

If you are doing this assembly as part of a series before Christmas, ask the pupils what presents they are hoping to receive. Alternatively, at other times in the year, ask if anyone has a birthday coming up. Ask them to raise their hand if they want to tell you about the presents they would like to receive.

Ask three pupils to come to the front of the assembly hall. Ask them if they are right or left-handed. Put a chewy fruit sweet wrapped in paper in their other hand and ask them to unwrap it using only that hand. Encourage the rest of the pupils to cheer them on.

When they have finished, ask them why they kept trying to get the sweet opened. It is because they wanted to eat it. If they didn’t care, they would have given up.

Today’s story is about a man called Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. Just like our volunteers, there was something that they really wanted. It wasn’t just a sweet however, and they had wanted this thing for many years.

Choose a boy and a girl to come to the front to be Zechariah and Elizabeth. Start to dress them up in costumes as you build up a picture of what they were like.

Zechariah and Elizabeth lived a long time ago in a hot country a long way from here, but to help us imagine them more easily, we will dress them up in modern clothes. They were also very old – older than your grandparents – so we will dress them up to look like older people.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had lived a long and good life, and had been very happy. But one thing in their life made them very sad: they had no children. They both loved children, but they had never had any of their own. Now they were so old, there was no chance they could have a child. This was the only thing in their life that really made them sad. Encourage the pupils at the front to look sad.

The Bible says that Zechariah and Elizabeth loved God very much and had always tried to obey him in everything they did. Because they loved him so much and believed that he loved them even more, they used to talk to him all the time about everything they were thinking and feeling.

They believed that God was very powerful and that he was the only one who could help them. Every day they would tell him about how much they wanted a child.

Zechariah was a priest, and one day he was in the temple on his own, praying to God when something amazing happened: an angel appeared! Zechariah was very afraid, but the angel told him not to be. He was sent from God to give Zechariah a message.

Give one of the envelopes addressed to ‘Zechariah’ to your volunteer. Ask them to open it and read what it says:

‘Your wife, Elizabeth, will have a son.’

At last, here was an answer to their prayers! But that was not the end of the message.

Give the pupil the second envelope to read out:

‘He will persuade people to turn to God and will prepare the way for God’s son.’

God had heard their prayers and had answered them, but his answer was even better than they had imagined. Not only would Elizabeth have a baby, but this baby would have a very special job, preparing people for God’s son, Jesus.

The message was so amazing that Zechariah found it very hard to believe. Elizabeth was so old! But Elizabeth believed the message for one simple reason.

Ask ‘Elizabeth’ to check on the back of the envelope to see who the message is from and tell the rest of the assembly.

Elizabeth knew they could trust this message because it was from someone they knew: God. She knew that God loved them and wouldn’t lie to them. Now God had answered their prayer in an amazing way!

Luke’s Gospel is an exciting message to Theophilus (only mention Theophilus if you have already done the previous assembly) and to us, but this is the first exciting message within his story. Christians believe it is a message that shows us that God is in touch with people and answers their prayers in more incredible ways than they could ever imagine. Elizabeth’s son was John the Baptist, sent to prepare people for an even more exciting message still to come.

Optional prayer time:

Give thanks that God heard Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers and answered them. Thank him that he is still in touch with people today.