14th December 2022
It’s a funny time Advent. It’s all about Christmas, but we don’t mention Christmas if we can…Active waiting we call it. I have had the pleasure of introducing Advent with a Primary school recently. Holding up an Advent calender, I didn’t have to ask the question what this was, hands up and bursting children, not waiting to be asked, it’s an Advent calender! Yes, you are correct, but what is it’s purpose. Is it to prepare us for the mountain of chocolate and sweets we are going to have at Christmas time. Just a small amount of chocolate every day prepares your body for the deluge? Or is it preparing us for something else? Strange looks at my first answer makes them realise that the answer is in the second. But what? Well the answer is Christmas, but this active waiting is about learning. Christians learning why Jesus came to earth. Recalling and learning Bible stories from the Old Testament and seeing that their journey to Christmas, their journey to Jesus is really important.
This Prayer Space is a little different to the usual ones I deliver. Ones of wonder, shaking sand, pegging prayers, dropping fizzy tablets into water and the like. This is more activity based, making nativity cubes, advent wreaths and stain glass windows. It was a Prayer Space I co-designed with a teacher that was doing a festival of light week at her school, a few years ago. Each station lasted 45 minutes and the whole school journeyed around the different classes experiencing something different. Wisdom or folly, the prayer space I recently delivered was an hour per class! In a nutshell it went something like this…
Passed it on Station
Purpose: To learn of why Jesus came to earth
Introduction: This station we are going to start at the very beginning. The pupils were given the opportunity to journey from the beginning of everything to the time Jesus was born, through 13 short stories.
In the beginning God, People talked, God loved, People went their own way, God was upset, Abraham became a friend, God planned, Moses led, God prepared, The Israelites waited, God told, Mary accepted, God came.
Prayer Station 2
Title: Stain glass
Purpose: To learn Bible stories from the Old Testament, as was part of an old tradition during advent.
Introduction: Advent was a time people used to prepare themselves for baptism, learn faith stories and examine their hearts. In churches, the stained glass windows remind and teach about stories in the Bible. We are going to create our own stained glass windows. Each story is from before Jesus came to earth.
Creation – God made us
Abraham – Friendship with God
Pillar of cloud and fire – God leads
David and Goliath – God’s protection
Mary and the Angel – God prepared
Prayer Station 3
Title: Story cube
Purpose: To know the nativity story
Introduction: There are a few nativity story books to read. After, pick 6 different scenes from the story and draw them on an Advent cube.
Prayer Station 4
Purpose: To explore what advent means to us
Introduction: An Advent calendar helps us count down to Christmas. Starting on the 1st December and finishing on the 24th December. The time before Christmas is called Advent. Advent is about celebrating the waiting, this is not about doing nothing, but being active in the waiting. We are going to make an Advent calendar, one that helps us to think each day. What do we think of when we hear the word advent? This tree has 24 shapes on plus a star at the top. The star is for Christmas day. The 24 shapes are for you to put a word in, maybe one you have heard or another one that you associate to Advent. Once you have put your word in, decorate the tree.
Prayer Station 5
Purpose: To learn about Advent candles and what they represent
Introduction: Churches often light candles on each Sunday of Advent, and then light a candle on Christmas day. The candle on Christmas day is for Jesus, the light of the world coming to earth from heaven, born as a baby. The other four represent attributes Jesus brings us; Hope, peace, love and joy. The candles also represent four people or people groups. The Patriarchs; these are the people in the Old Testament, who Jesus descended from, including Abraham and King David. The Prophets; again people in the Old Testament, who God spoke to, to tell the people important things, especially that He was sending someone to rescue them in the future. John the Baptist; he is the last of all the prophets and had the special job of announcing to the people that the Saviour has arrived. Mary; we remember her, for being willing servant of giving birth to Jesus and bringing him up, with Joseph. You can make and colour a paper advent wreath.
Prayer Station 6
Purpose: taking time to stop and think
Introduction: At Christmas time, we will write a letter to Father Christmas, telling him, what we would like to have. Prayer for Christians is a little like writing a letter. Write a letter to God or to the world, sharing your hopes and fears, your joys and your sorrows. Put them in an envelope and place them in the crib.
Prayer Station 7
Title: Advent Journey game (A snakes and ladder type game)
Purpose: To understand that we are all on a journey.
Introduction: Everyone is on a journey, The people of God, the Israelite in the Old Testament, Mary, Joseph, The wise men, the shepherds and us today. The journey for Christians is towards Jesus, finding out who he is. Advent can be seen like a journey. We are going to make a game, to help us remember that Advent is a journey.