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Your church families may be missing out on weekly Advent services or a special Advent Lessons and Carols service this year due to COVID restrictions. Here are some ideas that you can share with your families so that they can create their own Advent celebration at home.

Advent wreath

A traditional “Lessons and Carols” service has a Scripture reading followed by a hymn or song sung by the choir or congregation. We’ve provided a number of Scripture readings and included a link to a music video.  We’ve also included some questions and activities to help your children better understand the readings.

Here are some ideas on how you could use these materials:

  • Treat it more like a worship service and do just the readings and music.
  • Go through the entire program (with all or some of the readings and activities) in one sitting.
  • Spread things out by picking one or more of the readings (with their music and activities) to do at various points during the Advent season.


A few more “how-to” tips:

  • We’ve provided a link to Biblegateway.com for the various Scripture readings. Or you could choose to read them from your family Bible.
  • There are a number of videos embedded in this program. You will need to have access to a computer or laptop or tablet—something that your family can sit around and easily view would be best.
  • Go ahead and light some candles as part of this worshipful experience—an Advent wreath or whatever candles that you might have handy.
  • None of the activities has a huge amount of prep, but you might want to check it out a little beforehand. 


A PDF of the entire "program" is attached to this post.



What IS Advent?

Advent (from the Latin word for “coming”) is the beginning of the church year and prepares us for the coming of Christ.

The most obvious coming of Christ was when He was born at Christmas over 2000 years ago. But we also await His second coming—when He will return in power and glory on the Last Day. And we also remember that He is with us in the present in our everyday lives.  



Advent is a time for:

   Preparation—and looking thoughtfully at our lives

          Remembering—the promises of God

                 Hope—as we rejoice in God’s promises and our salvation

                        Waiting—for Christmas and for when Christ will return again



This 2-minute video is a great overview of Advent.

Most of it is written words, so it would work for your kids with good reading ability.

Attachments

Last edited by CathyWalz
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Opening

Say this responsive prayer:

Dear Lord, we rejoice as we wait for the great festival of Christmas.

                 Come, Lord Jesus.

Help us to remember Your great purpose and Your promises in sending Jesus to save us from our sins.

                Come, Lord Jesus.

We thank you, Lord, for the many gifts that You give us.

                 Come, Lord Jesus.

Lord, help prepare our hearts and minds for Your arrival.

                 Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.



The Activity

Find or make some percussion instruments:  tambourine, bells, drum, two sticks together, a jar filled with beads or dry beans, etc. Sing along with the refrain (be ready, it is a fast song!):

The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.

Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.



The Song

The music of “The King of Glory Comes” is from an Israeli folk tune. It is sung at Advent, as we think about the coming of our King. It is also sung on Palm Sunday, which is why the video shows pictures from this event in Jesus’ life.

God Promises a Savior to a Sinful World

Say:  Here, at the beginning of the Bible, is the beginning of God's promises of a Savior.



The Bible Reading

Read Genesis 3:1-15     

Ask:  God made a beautiful and perfect world—what went wrong?  (sin)

Ask: God placed a curse on the snake. God said that a descendant of the woman (Eve) would bruise the head of the serpent (the devil). Who was God talking about? (Jesus) 

Ask:  How would Jesus defeat the devil? (dying on the cross for our sins and rising to life again)


maryconsoleseven [2)



The Activity

Sin entered the world. Here, at the beginning of the Bible, we learn about God’s plan to send a Savior. This print of Mary consoling Eve was created by one of the sisters at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey/Monastery Candy. Due to copyright purposes, I am showing just a small portion of the picture. Click here to pull up a copy of the entire print. Look at it closely.  What do you see and think about:

  • the facial expressions of Mary and Eve
  • their postures
  • their actions
  • other items in the picture



Say: Despite our sin, God never stopped loving His people Israel—and He never stops loving us.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • maryconsoleseven (2)
Last edited by CathyWalz

God Reminds His People of His Promises

Say: God made a promise about the coming Savior to the very first people, Adam and Eve. Eve remembered this promise. Some Bible teachers, including Martin Luther, believe that Eve thought her first-born son Cain was the promised Messiah. Instead, he turned out to be the first murderer. But God’s people continued to believe and to wait.  Years and centuries passed – God used the prophets to remind His people of the promises.

The Bible Reading

Read Isaiah 7:10-14     

Say: Immanuel means “God with us”. Can you think of a time when God was close to you?  

Ask: How is God with us today?

Say: It is good to remember that God promised to always be with us. We can trust that promise, even when we feel like God isn’t there.



The Second Bible Reading

Read Isaiah 9:2-7   

Ask: What kinds of darkness do people walk/live in?

Ask: Who is the great Light that shines in the darkness? (Jesus)

Say: The Bible verses list several names for Jesus: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. What is your favorite name of Jesus from this list (or other places)?



The Song

The song “Immanuel” by Michael Card uses ideas from both of these Bible passages. Listen for them.  We will listen to the verses and sing along with the refrain:

                     Immanuel, Our God is with us.

                     And if God is with us who could stand against us.

                     Our God is with us. Immanuel.

   

The Activity

Here are two different ideas:

Make a candle. Take a jar. Using something like Modge Podge (or even watered down glue), attach pieces of colored tissue paper to the jar. Write “Jesus is the Light of the World” on a plain piece of paper and glue this on to the jar as well (you could also choose to write one of the names of Jesus). Or you could wait until the jar dries and write this on directly with a permanent marker. Put a tea light inside.

Create a light-up sign using poster board and a string of Christmas lights or fairy lights. Write one of the names of Jesus on the poster board.  Then punch small holes all along the name that you have written. Carefully push the Christmas lights through the holes. Plug in the strand of lights, dim the room lights, and see the name in lights. You might even use this as a window decoration.

Last edited by CathyWalz

The Prophet Foretells of the Glory of the Kingdom of God

Say: Not only do the prophets remind the people that a Savior is coming, they also tell the people what this new life with the Savior will be like.

The Bible Reading

Read Isaiah 35:1-6  

Ask: What are some of the glorious and miraculous things that are mentioned here?



The Song

We are going to listen to the song “Mary, Did You Know?”. The song asks Mary a number of questions about her baby boy Jesus. Did she know that He would do this and that, etc. She probably did know, because she knew what the prophets like Isaiah and others had to say about the coming Savior.



The Activity

Here is a list of some of the things that Mary is asked about in the song (you might want to write them down on a piece of paper). Look for them in the video. When did these things happen in the life of Jesus? Some Bible verses are in parentheses if you want to use them.

Walked on water                (Matthew 14:22-33—with Peter)

Delivered Mary—and all sinners                (when He died on the cross)

Gave sight to the blind                       (Mark 10:46-52—Bartimaeus; John 9:1-12)

Calmed a storm                      (Mark 4:35-41)

Made the dead live again                    (John 11—Lazarus; Mark 5:35-43—the little girl)

Healed a lame man                 (John 5:1-9; Mark 2:1-12—paralytic with the 4 friends)

Anything else that you noticed?

Last edited by CathyWalz

The Prophet Proclaims Good News to the People in Exile

Say:  Hundreds and thousands of years have gone by since God first promised a Savior to Adam and Eve. And still the people believed and hoped and waited. The prophet Isaiah warns the people that they will be taken into exile—taken into captivity into the foreign land of Babylon. But he comforts them with the promises that God’s kingdom will still come and that the promised Savior will still come.

The Bible Reading

Read Isaiah 40:1-8  

Say: The song that we will be singing talks about the people in exile longing for Emmanuel to come to them. Do you remember what Emmanuel means? (God with us).



The Song

The words to the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” appear on the screen so we will be able to sing along. 



The Activity

Create a bumpy terrain of some sorts. If you live someplace warm, you could make hills and valleys of dirt and rocks in the yard. If you live where it is cold, you could make a miniature of this with play dough.

Say: We’re going to focus on the idea of preparing or making way for the coming of Christ. In verses 3-4, what sort of changes are going on? (make straight the highway, raise up the valleys, make low the mountains, make the rough ground level)

Have your kids smooth out the rough places and fill up the valleys and make low the mountains. As they do this, ask them some questions:

  • What things (like this hill or pile of rocks) get in the way of your relationship with God?
  • As you fill in these holes/valleys, what are some things that you could be adding to your faith life?
  • What things can help us get ready for the birth of Christ—and for our life with Christ.



This short article by Neil MacQueen on a memorable Children’s Sermon on this topic might give you some more ideas.

Last edited by CathyWalz

The Angel Gabriel Appears to Mary

Say: The time for the Savior to come into the world is getting closer now. Much, much closer!

The Bible Reading

Read Luke 1:26-38   

(If you do the activity, save these questions for when you are eating your snack)

Ask: What message did the angel Gabriel bring to Mary? (don’t be afraid; will have a son and call Him Jesus; He will be the Son of God)

Ask: How did Mary react at first? (troubled; wondered how this could be)

Ask: What was Mary’s reaction by the end of the visit from Gabriel? (let it be done according to God’s Word)



The Song

The song is “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came”. The words appear on the screen so we can sing along.



The Activity

We’re going to make a snack to remind us of the parts of the story. Put these ingredients together:

  • Angel Food Cake cut into chunks—for the angel Gabriel, of course
  • Whipped cream or Cool Whip—“from heaven came”
  • Berries of some sort—rhymes with Mary
  • Chocolate (or other sweet sauce)—for the sweet news of the Savior to be born



As everyone eats their snack, answer the questions from above and talk about the Bible story.

Last edited by CathyWalz

Christ Will Come Again on the Last Day

Say: In the Old Testament times, the people waited for hundreds and thousands of years for the Savior to be born. Jesus promised that He would come again. And people have waited for thousands of years now for that to happen. We don’t know—no one knows—when the Last Day will come and Jesus returns to earth as King. It might be soon. Or it might not happen for a long time. But still we wait and we prepare.

The Bible Readings

Read Acts 1: 6-11

Read Revelation 1:7-8  

Ask: What is happening in the first Bible story that we read in Acts? (ascension of Jesus)

Ask: How did Jesus ascend up into heaven? (cloud)

Ask: What did the two angels say about the return of Christ? (will come in the same way as you saw Him leave)

Ask: What does Revelation say about His return? (coming with the clouds, everyone on earth will see Him)



The Song

The song for this reading is “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns”.  Each verse appears on the screen with some accompanying music that you can sing along to. There are no voices on the video, just the music.

Sing the song. Then ask your kids what they think if will be like and look like when Jesus returns. How is it different from His first coming to earth as a baby?  (The layout of the video with each verse on a screen makes it easy to go back and forth in the video and pause on any lyrics that you want to look at more closely.)



The Activity

We will be making crowns to remember that, in the Second Coming on the Last Day, Jesus will return as a glorious and powerful king. We remember this every time we confess our faith in the creeds. The Nicene Creed says, “And He will come again with glory to judge both the the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.”



Cut out a crown using card stock or a light-colored construction paper (you may need more than one piece to make it fit around peoples’ heads). Some ideas on decorating the crowns:

  • Coloring it or gluing on sequins/jewels to make it look like a royal crown
  • Drawing pictures from Jesus’ life on His crown
  • Drawing a picture of what you think it will look like when Jesus returns in glory on the Last Day.
Last edited by CathyWalz

Jesus is With Us Always

Say: The verse that we read in Revelation talks about Jesus, “who is and who was and who is to come”. We’ve learned about the prophecies about who Jesus WAS when He came to earth on that first Christmas and then grew up to teach and do miracles and die on the cross and rise again. And we learned about Jesus who IS TO COME on the Last Day. Now we are going to think about how Jesus IS with us here and now in the present.

The Bible Reading

Read Matthew 28:16-20  

Say: Jesus says this to His disciples shortly before He leaves them to return to heaven. The disciples could no longer see Jesus, just like we can’t see Jesus in person. How is it that Jesus was with them—and is with us now? (Possible answers might be in His Word the Bible, hearing His Word in Sunday School, hearing His Word from the pastor; receiving Jesus at your baptism; in the Lord’s Supper; when you pray; when you sing or listen to Christian songs; your faith; through the Church; etc.)



The Activity

We have two activities that will help reinforce the answers that you just talked about:

Option 1 is to play charades. Write each of the answers down on a piece of paper. Someone chooses one of these pieces and then acts it out while the rest of you try to guess what it is.

Option 2 involves the memory/matching game. Use cardstock to create the game pieces. Write each of the words on two of the game pieces. Turn them all over, mix them up, and then lay them out in a grid. Family members take turns turning over two of the pieces, trying to make a match. When you have made a match, take a moment to talk again about that way that Jesus comes to us.



The Song

You can close out your “service” by singing “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”.

+To God Be the Glory+

Last edited by CathyWalz

This is a wonderful resource, Cathy! Thank you!

The activity related to Genesis 3 above with the "Mary Consoles Eve" artwork reminds me of a wonderful piece of music by Rain for Roots with the same name. You can listen to it and their other Waiting Songs here and read the lyrics here.

Last edited by Amy Crane

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