Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. ‘It is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.’https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent
So how does one prepare through all the hustle and bustle of life, the TV commercials, the warm fuzzy feelings that come with the changes in weather in the western hemisphere or the distractions of the tree, the gift list and yadi, yadi, yada. – Selah.
Selah is a time to pause and think. A time to reflect on the celebration, listen to what God has for you through His coming as a human child and His coming again…think on these things.
Advent starts 4 sundays before Christmas day (25th December). Here are some ways to create an environment/space for you and your family to stop and think… and even share. This is designed for you to use over 2 days in a week before Christmas Day. The devotional for Day 6 however could be used a day or two after Christmas.
Retelling stories* help us think about the story, and comprehend it.
Remember the memorial stones in Joshua 4 :20 – 24. The stones that the Israelites brought from the river as they crossed it on dry ground were placed in Gilgal. Why, you ask? verses 20 onwards says
Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’23For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Seac when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.”
So how about some ‘memorial stones’ this Advent.
Most homes decorate their houses with a nativity scene. If you don’t have one you can make up stick puppets with popsicle sticks (here is a link to a tutorial on making some – http://buggyandbuddy.com/popsicle-stick-puppet-craft-for-kids/) or use any dolls/figures you may have in the house. Assign them to the different characters in the birth story of Jesus Christ. So that, you and anyone who enters your home may know the Lord is Almighty.
You probably already know where you are wanting to set up your nativity scene this year. To help you plan ahead, the wise men will start their journey to Jesus from the right side of the nativity scene (indicating the East). All other events Gabriel’s visit to Mary, Mary and Elizabeth, Gabriel and Joseph, And the journey of Jesus’ parents to Bethlehem (the nativity scene) happens to the left of the chosen location.
Day 1 :
Materials : 1 sheet of paper
Write out Isaiah 9:6 on a paper and roll it like a scroll. God had a plan, a beautiful plan from the beginning of the earth. He wanted us to be together with Him. And 400 years before Jesus was born, God reminded the Israelites of that Hope for a wonderful future. Place this in the chosen place of the nativity scene.
Passage: (read aloud)
Additional Reading: Genesis 1:26-27 ; Jeremiah 29:11
Focus: God has a beautiful plan for each of us to be with Him.
Pray: Dear Lord, Thank you for loving and cherishing us. We praise you as our Almighty Creator God. We love you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
Characters : angel Gabriel, Mary and Elizabeth
Passage: (read ahead) Luke 1:26 – 39
In your own words share the story using the dolls/stick puppets. Or you may choose to enact it with the kids using the puppets or using costumes. (If you choose to use the doll/puppet or nativity figurine of Mary have Mary doing (pretend) the chores of the day like washing,cleaning etc. Suddenly introduce angel Gabriel.
Gabriel to Mary : “Don’t be afraid. You are going to have a baby boy and name him Jesus. He is God’s own Son. He will save the world”
Mary responds in shock and yet submitting to God : “Really? Oh ok.” Remove Gabriel from the scene.
She then runs to tell and see Elizabeth her cousin.
Move Mary to Elizabeth.
Focus: When God speaks He won’t leave you in fear.
Pray: Lord Jesus thank you for loving us and wanting to be in a relationship with us. Please help us hear you and listen to you. Amen
Characters: Joseph and Gabriel
Passage: (read ahead) Mathew 1 :18 -25
Joseph hears about Mary being pregnant and decides to not marry her. (Have the figurine or puppet of Joseph lay flat as if he were sleeping) Gabriel appears and tells Joseph to marry Mary. Gabriel also tells Joseph that Jesus is Immanuel meaning God with us.
Focus: God can speak through dreams, visions and angels.
Pray: Lord help me see you and know you more today. In Jesus name. Amen.
Characters: Mary, Joseph, hotel owner and some small hotels/rooms or doors or use your ginger bread house if you make one.
Passage: (read ahead) Luke 2: 1- 7
Place your inn keeper dolls/popsicle hotel owner in front of make shift houses (could be lego houses or just doors, or paper bag houses (https://innerchildfun.com/2014/10/rainy-day-fun-paper-bag-houses.html) close to the chosen spot for the nativity display.
Have Mary and Joseph walk slowly to different houses and ask if they could come in because they were there to register themselves in that county. Have each hotel owner say its all full. Then have one hotel owner say Its full but I have space with the animals.
Move Mary and Joseph to the chosen spot for the nativity scene display in your home. Bring in the animals.
Focus: Give God your best by loving those around you.
Pray: Lord, please would you help me love you and love others more today. Thank you Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.
Characters: Shepherds and sheep, as many angels as you have
Passage: (read aloud) Luke 2: 8 – 20
Set up the shepherds with their sheep away from the houses. Suddenly have an angel say to the shepherds that Jesus the savior is born in Bethlehem in a manger. Have the shepherds looking at each other in amazement. Then have as many angels (invite your kids to hold some dolls as angels) appear before the shepherds singing “Glory to God in the highest an don earth peace goodwill to all people”.
Have the shepherds go towards the manger and bow down and worship Jesus. And take them different places to show how they shared all that had happened with others and they returned worshipping and glorifying God.(Luke 2:16)
Focus: Share Jesus’ birthday with others.
Pray: Lord would you fill me with your inexpressible joy. Would you help me know you more today and share your love with others. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
(Since the wise men didn’t see Jesus right at his birth this could be done the day after Christmas or even a few days later )
Characters : The wise men and a star
Passage : (read aloud) Luke 2:1 -11
Hold one star up. Have the wise men figurines looking and studying, the stars. Remember these scholars were not neccessarily looking for a king or a saviour. They were studying the stars. Walk/move them towards the manger and have them bow down before Jesus.
Focus: Our God is our Almighty Creator. He is Lord over all things (including people) that were made.
Pray: God Almighty, You are Lord over all things. People who know you and people who are not even looking for you. Thank you for loving all of us just the same. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
*The power of story retelling -https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/resource/spr2003.pdf