Here are a few ideas and resources to get your Advent Trail started...
An Isaiah Advent Trail
This would be a great one to do in the evening, since it involves the use of flashlights. You could either include a small flashlight in the activity bag and tell your families to bring one to the activity to use with a printed "guide" (in place of the bag). See Oriental Trading Co for inexpensive bulk flashlights. "Isaiah" is only one example of a "trail." You could change the Trail during Advent to another aspect of the Christmas story (such as Magi), or use that for next year's Trail.
Signs for the Isaiah Advent Story Trail:
Put each of the following Bible verses on the Station Signs that go along the story trail. Include a large clipart illustration of each. Include the instruction: Read the verse and look on your "guide" for the corresponding activity and question.
The "guide" is a simple pamphlet that contains the following (suggested) text and instructions. I should include a reminder that "if you see another group still at the station you are approaching, wait quietly for them to finish."
Sign 1, Isaiah 9:2 "Darkness"
Read the verse out loud, then read the question, turn off your flashlight and answer it before continuing on in darkness to the next station.
Verse: The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.
Question: What kind of "darkness" do people walk in and live in?
Prayer: Take a moment to bow your head and ask God to guide your life.
Sign 2, John 8:12, Turn on your light!
Verse: Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Question: Name a few things that people use light for or light does for us.
Prayer: Take a moment to ask God to shine his healing light on some difficult or dark part of your life.
As you walk to the next station, "follow the light of the world" by having one person walk ahead of you with their light on as you keep your own light off.
Sign 3, Isaiah 7:14 "Emmanuel"
Verse: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. [Immanuel means “God with us”]
Question: Name a time when you felt God was close to you or with you.
Prayer: Take a moment to thank God for wanting to be with you and share your life.
As you walk to the next station, hold hands or lock arms with each other.
At Station 4, Isaiah 9:6 the activity is a short "name matching" game about the "titles" or names of the Jesus the Messiah. Gather six rocks and write the following names on them, one name per rock: Light of the World, Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace.
Place the rocks name-down at the foot of the sign. Trail walkers are to turn over the stones in the correct order. If they turn over the wrong name-stone, they return it face down (like a matching game) and look for the correct one. Alternately, you may place the stones face-up in random order in the general area of the sign and have the walkers look for find all six with their flashlights.
Sign 4, Isaiah 9:6 "The Names of Jesus"
Verse: "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Find the names in the correct order by turning over the rocks. When you turn over a name that wasn't next on the list, return it face-down and look for the correct "next name" on your list:
Question: Which name or title for Jesus is your favorite and what does it say about him?
Prayer Together: Lord, be my light, be with me always, counsel me, save me with your mighty love, be my eternal Father, and make me a peacemaker just like you. Amen.
Before you go, make sure you have placed the rocks name-down and in random order for the next people to find them.
- Take a rock home (provided) and use markers or paint pens to decorate it with the "Names of Jesus" as found at Sign #4. Wrap it with some garland and place it by your front door for visitors to see. [This can also be a group activity for walking-groups as they come off the trail. Provide refreshments, rocks, and paint pens.]
- Include a list of YouTube videos to encourage families to continue their Advent journey at home together. See the "Best Advent Videos" topic here at rotation.org.
- Create a “Names of Jesus” Advent Chain. This post describes the idea and the post above it has a list of names.
- Create a picture of the names of Jesus. This post and some of the ones above and below it give some ideas.
A "Trail to the Manger"
Place the pages of the Bible storybook on Jesus’ birth at the story trail stations similar to how they are described in the Isaiah Trail above.
- Prophets Station
- Angels announce to Mary and then to Joseph Station
- Shepherds and Angels Station
- Magi and Star Station
- Manger Station
After the last story station, design it so that families can take a picture standing in the manger with a live group of characters (wear masks please!). Include a few straw bales or some stuffed animal sheep. Encourage the families to bring some simple costumes to wear as they walk and take part in recreating the Nativity scene for their photos. (Do not share costumes in 2020). Post photos on your church’s Facebook page.