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Originally Posted by member NAN J.

Take-Home Advent Wreath

I teach a 2nd grade class and we made Advent Wreaths for the students to take home and use with their families.

 

Supplies:

  • Cookie and Craft Sticks (we used Wilton)
  • 2 inch round flat wood shapes
  • green Crayola Model magic modeling material
  • purple washable paint
  • pink washable paint
  • paintbrushes
  • wax paper

I prepared beforehand by cutting the cookie/craft sticks into lengths of 1.5 inches. On Sunday I gave each child one wooden circle to use as a base, a good wad of the modeling material, and 4 sticks. I gave each child a piece of wax paper about the size of a placemat and squirted out some pink and purple paint onto the wax paper so that each child could have his/her own paint source. I instructed the children to paint their candles (3 purple and 1 pink). While the candles are drying the children can form their wreaths out of the modeling material and place it on the wooden circle base. While the modeling material is still pliable, take one of the "candles" and poke 4 holes into the wreaths so that the children can add their candles each night. I sent all that home with them along with a simple outline for scripture and singing each Sunday night of the Advent season. It is below:

First Sunday of advent : Hope
November 30, 2008
Place in wreath one purple candle to symbolize Hope
Prayer
Read Isaiah 60:2-3
Sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel!”

Second Sunday : Peace
December 7, 2008
Place in wreath two purple candles - Hope and Peace
Prayer
Read Mark 1:4
Sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Third Sunday : Joy
December 14, 2008
Place in wreath two purple candles (Hope and Peace)
and one rose to symbolize Joy
Prayer
Read Isaiah 35:10
Sing “Joy to the World”

Fourth Sunday: Love
December 21, 2008
Place in wreath all four candles - Hope, Peace, Joy and Love
Prayer
Read Isaiah 9:6-7
Sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

Christmas Eve
December 24, 2008
Add the fifth white candle in the center of the wreath
(the light of Christ)
Prayer
Read Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:1-20
Sing “Silent Night”

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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The Sparkle BoxThe Sparkle Box

Read the book "The Sparkle Box" by Jill Hardie, Ideals Pub., 2012, and have children make their own sparkle boxes to take home.

A family has a Christmas Tradition where they have a Sparkle Box on the mantle in which they input their gifts to Jesus as Christmas approaches.  The family deeds they do in honor of Jesus are written on slips of paper and put into the Sparkle Box.  On Christmas morning "Jesus' Gift" (The Sparkle Box) is opened and his gifts are read out loud.  Bringing the reason for Christmas back into Christmas.

Lovely story book! Comes with a sparkle box to unfold.

Website has handouts to go with the kids after hearing the story and making their own sparkle box or jar.  It also includes ideas for gifts for Jesus.  If time allows for a family event it would be nice to have the families make a sparkle box together.

Check out The Sparkle Box website here.

I'm going to use this for our White Gift Service.  I've purchased boxes that will work great for sparkle boxes (one for each church family) and they will be invited to take home a box at the end of the service with a handout from "The Sparkle Box" website.

Thinking I will narrate the book and have the children act out scenes of the family gift givings to Jesus and then putting a slip of paper into the box or something like that, just in the thinking stage now.  Will likely come up with additional ideas than the book so all the kids can participate in a silent mime of gift giving.

Luanne

Update:  what I actually ended up doing - for our Christmas service: I bought Christmas Boxes at the dollar store - varying small sizes and colours, I lucked out as they actually did sparkle - meant to be or what! We then placed a bare Christmas Tree with just a single large red bow hanging from the top and filled its branches with the Sparkle Boxes.  Inside each Sparkle box was the idea behind the box I had copied from their website.

Two of our children - read the story to the congregation.

We then invited a member of each family to come up and pick a sparkle box from the tree to take home. Each year during advent season families were to bring out their Sparkle Box and write down their gifts (helping at the local food bank, showing a kindness, helping someone in need, etc.) then read their slips (gifts for Jesus) Christmas morning.

Big hit with the entire congregation and kids!

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Last edited by Luanne Payne

Look at this fun idea for Advent calendar sorts of ornaments - 24 of them made out of felt (photos and description, no patterns) with a list of Bible verses or Jesus Storybook Bible story to read along with that day's ornament.  I think it could be adapted for classroom or other uses besides at home.

http://saramblings.blogspot.co...jesus-storybook.html

advent creation wm

Pictures show first day - Creation (the ornament is the Earth).

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Last edited by Luanne Payne

A "Biblical" Advent Wreath

One inspired by scripture, not tradition

Suggestions for a wreath project or children's sermon
using the biblical imagery of branches and twigs from Isaiah 11 and Jeremiah 33.

I find it odd that the Church embraces the non-biblical symbol of the "evergreen" while largely ignoring the biblical imagery the sprouting branch taught by BOTH Isaiah 11 and Jeremiah 33 as the metaphor for the promise and coming of the Messiah.

From a teacher and pastor's perspective, I'd much rather teach and promote the meaning of biblical images than secular ones. Doing so grounds our kids in scripture, and as my suggestions below will show, it is pretty easy to do.

“‘In those days and at that time I will make
a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line" (Jer 33:15)

righteousbranch2

A shoot will grow up from the stump* of Jesse;
a branch will sprout from his roots." (Isaiah 11:1)

stumpofjesse

[*Re: Stump.  The Hebrew word is "geza" -- which can mean "stem," "branch," "root," or perhaps even "stump." "Stump" was popularized by the RSV and NIV, but it's not the only possibility. You can check out the Hebrew yourself.]

Personally, I love the nostalgia and smell of evergreen Christmas trees and wreaths, but they were originally a "pagan" symbol whose origins are lost in the mist of history and metaphorically speak very little about the hope for a Messiah. Whereas, the Bible provides us with "sprouting branch" imagery that is visually similar to evergreens, are easy to work with from a decoration or teaching perspective, AND is MUCH more meaningful in terms of the teaching about Christ's birth and its connection to the Old Testament story.

How Did We Get So "Evergreen"?

Evergreen boughs were used in ancient cultures at funerals to symbolize the hope of the afterlife. The Romans gave and displayed evergreen boughs at the Winter Solstice to symbolize the hope that the gods would give humanity another year. The Christian Church co-opted and reinterpreted the evergreen symbol to signify resurrection, and somewhere along the line evergreens started showing up in Christmas celebrations (which not so coincidentally were also celebrated the week before the new year). The first Christmas tree is said to have appeared sometime in the 15th Century when it was decorated and lit on fire (both the tree and fire likely being the remnant of some pre-Christian winter celebration). The "lights" on a Xmas tree became the symbol we most associate with scripture -- the light coming into the world.  Though few still put lit candles on real trees anymore (for obvious safety reasons), the practice of lighting evergreens on fire has come down to us in the lighting of Advent candles tucked into an evergreen wreath to mark the approach of Christmas. 

The New Testament picks up on the "branches" metaphor

The "vine and branches" metaphor was used by Jesus in John 15 when he says, "I am the vine, you are the branches, cut off from me you can do nothing." The vine he likely was referring to was the woody grapevine.

Paul in Romans 11 uses the image of an olive tree and its branches when he says "some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root."

It has also been long noted that “Nazareth” and “Nazarene” have the Hebrew root “netzer” which means “branch” or “shoot.”

netzer

All of which is to say that we have biblical images we could be using in our Advent decorations, instead of only pagan ones. These biblical images and props could also make a nice children’s sermon or Advent craft project  And unlike “evergreen,” the image of branches and shoots has life application as well! How are you connected to Christ and showing his fruit?

Below are some images and comments about the various types of "branches" you could employ.  Keep in mind that the "stump" or "branch" referred to by Isaiah and Jeremiah could be any one of a NUMBER of valuable tree species, including oak, terebinth, olive, sycamore, cinnamon, chamomille, gum, cedar. 

olivebranchwreath

Fresh cut olive branches can be ordered online or through your florist. They are not expensive.

Grapevine can be ordered online or found at local craft houses. They can be shaped into wreaths. Plastic flower "sprigs" and "buds" can be attached with green floral wire to symbolize Isaiah's "sprouting branch." Grapevine already shaped into small wreaths and heart shapes can be purchased in bulk for less than $1 each online.

Budding branches can be purchased from florists in Advent and would make a great object lesson. They can be kept in water, taken home, or woven into a wreath.

The "shoot" that God brings forth from the root of Jesse is metaphorically related to all the passages about "bearing good fruit" too.

And why not a "stump" on your chancel this Advent? 
Candles could be set on it and lit to mark the coming of Christmas. It could have a single flower in the middle representing the "righteous branch" or "sprout" that the prophets describe. Lots of possibilities. 

And yes, the "stump of Jesse" is the origin of the venerable "Jesse Tree" project in Sunday School. There is an old Christmas tradition of using a Jesse Tree, like an Advent calendar. Children hang ornaments on it -- each ornament representing a part of the story from Creation to the Birth of Christ.  Only I wonder why it's a Jesse "Tree" and not a Jesse "Stump"?

And then there is 1 Peter 2:24's unique description of the cross as a tree!

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (ESV)

Interestingly, some modern translations change "tree" to "cross" ...which is really too bad because the exact word that 1 Peter uses is NOT "cross" but "xylon" which can mean "wood/beam/log or tree." Whereas the word used in the Gospels for "cross" is "stauros." So you might say that forgiveness did indeed SPROUT from a stick. (God loves metaphors.)

 

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Last edited by Neil MacQueen

more Advent wreath resources:

Jesse Tree ornaments (free to print) and readings for daily candle lightingsJesse Tree: God's Big Advent Story

jesseTreeGodsBigStory

Making Advent wreathsSimple Advent wreaths for classroom or home, including a $0.99 Advent wreath


 

Luanne had her kids make advent wreaths directions found here.

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  • jesseTreeGodsBigStory
Last edited by Luanne Payne

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