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Guidelines: Preparing Children for Christmas ………………….…………. 1
Activities for Families—Preparing for Christmas ……..………………….. 3
1. Advent Family Banner
2. Share the Spirit of Giving
• Week 1 – “Give Back to God’s Creation”
• Week 2 – “Share with Senior Adults”
• Week 3 – “Share with Friends/Neighbors”
• Week 4 – “Share with Children”
Family Worship to Prepare Children for Christmas ……………………… 5
1. Advent Season
• First week in Advent (Four weeks before Christmas)
• Second week in Advent (Three weeks before Christmas)
• Third week in Advent (Two weeks before Christmas)
• Fourth week in Advent (The week before Christmas)
Advent Activities for Church Togetherings”…………………….…………..
1. Holly Days
2. Preschool and Children Christmas Party
Involving Children in Worship During the Advent Season …………… 12
1. The Advent Wreath
2. Advent Banners
3. The Advent Scripture Readings
4. Advent Prayers
5. Music for Advent
6. Advent Worship Bulletins
7. The Advent Scriptures
Celebrate Christmas ………………………………………………..……………… 18
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas ………………….…………… 19
Children’s Sermon for Advent Season ………………………….…..…...…….. 21
• First Sunday of Advent: Hope
• Second Sunday of Advent: Peace
• Third Sunday of Advent: Joy
• Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love
Guidelines: Preparing Children for Christmas
By Janice Haywood
Each year, children of all ages eagerly anticipate the
arrival of December 25. Why? Largely, it is because
the cultural and commercial aspects of the holiday
season are marketed very effectively to children and the
families who love them. From decorations to music,
from toys to appliances, from food to fashion, children
are prepared for weeks if not months prior to Christmas
to “make their list and check it twice” before the “Great
Gift Day” arrives. But how well are we preparing our
children to celebrate our Savior’s birth, the true origin of Christmas? In order to prioritize
our Christian heritage above the commercial holiday, we must intentionally emphasize
with our children the joyful and holy aspects of the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Some
traditions give the name “Advent” to the four weeks prior to Christmas. Others simply see
it as “Preparing for Christmas.”
Consider the following guidelines or principles when choosing activities or methods to
prepare children for the holy Christmas:
1. Separate the religious or Biblical story from the commercial or secular one.
Preschoolers and younger children, who are learning the difficult mental skill of
distinguishing between fantasy and reality, need to have the Christmas reality shared
without secular fantasy interference. When they see Santa Claus at church (or even
pictures of him) or Santa Claus kneeling at the manger, they may find it difficult to
distinguish between the two personalities--one fantasy and one real--although having
similar characteristics. If Santa’s story is make-believe or fantasy, perhaps Jesus’ story is
also?! Legends also are confusing to children who do not understand what is Biblical and
therefore real and what is simply an imaginary story that teaches a lesson. Older children,
who may have learned to distinguish between reality and fantasy, may not perceive the
holiness or “special ness” of the Biblical Christmas if it is mixed with secular images and
celebrations with equal emphasis. Songs about Santa, jingle bells, reindeer, and other
imaginary Christmas characters might be fun to sing, but do not help children to remember
the true meaning of Christmas. For these reasons, it is wise to omit secular Christmas
symbols, concepts, and music from the church, and fill the classrooms and hallways with
the Biblical or religious aspects of Christmas such as angels, manger scenes, stars, bells,
carols, and shepherds.
2. Keep stories, objects, and activities literal and concrete rather than symbolic
or abstract.
Children are very literal thinkers until approximately age 12. They do not yet have the
mental processes to understand symbolism used in some of the Chrismon symbols often
hung on Christmas trees at church or in homes. For children, use literal Chrismon symbols
such as angels, bells, mangers, crosses, or stars rather than symbolic ones such as crowns,
butterflies, seashells, or fish that stand for the symbolic aspects of our faith. Likewise, the
names of the candles in an advent wreath have many names.
For younger children, use the names of prophecy candle, shepherd’s candle, angel’s candle,
and Bethlehem candle rather than those of hope, peace, joy, and love that are more
symbolic although they might be used with older children. Explaining the symbolic
meanings to children and having them repeat it to you does not mean that they understand
the symbolism, only that they can memorize easily. In summary, choose stories and
activities based on the vast and interesting aspects of the real Biblical account. Repetition,
especially done in a variety of media or teaching methods gives emphasis to the real
Christmas story and helps children to remember. All parents can verify that children enjoy
hearing a well-told or well-read story repeated often!
3. Make the Christmas story sensory.
Children learn through their five senses. Help them to experience
Christmas and heighten their memory. Hearing the Christmas story is
only one sensory experience. Consider letting them act out the story,
smell hay in a stable, look at and discuss Biblical story pictures, read the
story from the Bible or accurate Bible story book by the light of an oil
lamp, construct a nativity scene from readily available items, make
puppets and present a puppet show of the Christmas story, or even have
a birthday party for Jesus in which they bring gifts for a mission project. The more senses
that the children use, the more meaningful will be their experiences.
4. Plan activities and experiences that are developmentally appropriate for the
age of the child.
Younger children need activities that are shorter in length because of their shorter
attention span. If you will use the general rule of one minute for every year of age, you will
change activities every four minutes for a four-year-old child and every eight minutes for an
eight-year-old child. Use a simple vocabulary appropriate for the age children you are
addressing. Keep in mind the concrete thinking of children and choose activities that are
literal, not symbolic. Consider the need of children to be active after having a “quiet”
experience. Choose Christmas carols that the children like, can sing easily, and which have
words and concepts they can understand.
5. Adjust the theology and terminology used in books and other resources to be
consistent with your church’s beliefs and practices.
When choosing devotions for families or litanies for worship that come from resources,
consider what is acceptable to your congregation. Many good experiences suggested in a
resource may use terminology that your church does not utilize. For example, if your
church does not use the term “Advent” to mean the four weeks prior to Christmas, use the
phrase “Preparing for Christmas” instead. There are many good ideas for activities that
can be adjusted and still will be appropriate for your congregation. There are other ideas
that are so different from your church’s beliefs and practices that it may not be appropriate
at all, even with adjustments.
The following activities for home and church can help your children and their families
prepare for the celebration of our Savior’s birth.
Activities for Families—Preparing for Christmas
By Gail Ledbetter
1. Advent Family Banner
This advent idea involves a weekly family time together (one for each week of
advent) in order to complete the family banner.
Supplies needed:
• 28" x 42" felt for the banner (Finished size 28” x 39” with 3" folded hem at
top for dowel pocket)
• Felt for the dividers, center circle, letters, and people cutouts
• Craft glue
• Dowel stick and yarn or ribbon for hanging the banner.
Optional supplies:
• Wooden round-head clothespins (in craft stores could be called doll pins),
• Fabric/felt for clothes, yarn, and Velcro.
Each week, family members would read about the different characters in the
Christmas story. After reading the scripture passages together, all family members
will make the characters to put on the banner in that section. Cutouts of the Bible
characters would be glued into that section for each week of Advent. To make the
banner reusable year after year, make clothespin or
dollpin Bible characters that would be
Mary & Joseph
“dressed”, then attached to the banner
using Velcro. Dollpin characters could
Week 1 cutout
Week 2 cutout
be “dressed” with fabric/felt clothes,
figures here
figures here
yarn hair, etc.
Week 1 would be Mary and Joseph
Matt 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7; Matt 2:13-15
Week 2 would be the Shepherds
Baby Jesus
figure here
Luke 2:18-20
Week 3 would be the Wise Men
Matt 2:1-12
Week 4 would be the Angels
Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:8-15; Matt 2:13-15
Week 4 cutout
figures here
Christmas Eve/Day would be Baby Jesus
• Luke 2:1-20
Week 3 cutout
figures here
2. Share the Spirit of Giving
Christmas is the time that we remember the giving of the ultimate gift.... the gift of God's
Son, Jesus to a sinful world. Since most children focus on the receiving of gifts at this time
of year, simple ministry action projects can teach important lessons about sharing and
giving. While donating money or a purchased item to a project is appreciated, the giving of
time and yourself can teach more important lessons. Jesus didn't send money....He gave
Himself for us.
Week 1 - "Give Back to God's Creation"
Provide homemade goodies to the birds at this time of year. String popcorn (if the popcorn
is a day old it will be easier to string) on thread and hang on a bush or tree that can be seen
from a window. Pinecones spread with peanut butter, then rolled in birdseed, can be hung
on trees to provide needed fat for warmth. The skin of orange halves can be used for little
cups, then filled with peanut butter/seed mixture, and then hung in trees or bushes.
Week 2 - "Share with Senior Adults"
Bake cookies (the "cut and bake” kind are just as much fun when baked together, if time is
a factor). Package them in airtight bags, then in paper bags that have been decorated by
the children--include a bow or ribbon. Deliver them to senior adults in your church or
neighborhood. If you are taking them to a nursing facility, be sure to get permission to
distribute, since some patients have diet restrictions.
Week 3 - "Share with Friends/Neighbors"
The holiday season can be a great time to meet and welcome new neighbors who may be
away from family, as well as share with special friends and neighbors. As a family, bake
cookies (as in week 2) or bake loaves of bread to share. The bread can be a family favorite
recipe or a quick bread mix, since it's the gift of sharing not necessarily the bread that's
most important. Be sure to involve children in the "making" process. Children can make
cards to go along with the gift, as well as help decorate the bread with ribbon, etc. As a
family deliver the bread to your friends/neighbors. A prearranged time may make the
delivery an easier process.
Week 4 - "Share with Children"
The media portrays Christmas as a time when children receive what they wish for. We can
teach important lessons when we help children realize that there are some children who are
less fortunate at Christmastime and throughout the year.
Find a ministry in your city, which receives, used toys in good condition. Help your child go
through their toys and make choices to give away something and share with others. It can
be a rewarding process, especially if some hard choices are made.
Another way to share with children may be to start a "sock and mitten tree" at
church or in the children's Sunday School division, where others can hang new pairs
of mittens and socks. While this means buying something, money can be earned by
doing special jobs around the house (different from their regular family chores).
After the money has been earned, give it to the child and take them and let them
purchase the socks or mittens. This process will help children "give" of themselves
in order to share with others.
Family Worship to Prepare Children for Christmas
By Sandra Canipe
Advent Season
These suggestions for five family worship times during Advent use the Advent wreath.
Advent, the period including the four Sundays just before Christmas, is the first season of
the church year. During 1998, there were twenty-six days in Advent: November 29 through
December 24.
The word “Advent” derives from the Latin ad venire, meaning “to come.” During these
twenty-six days, anticipation and excitement are high as children look forward to
Christmas. This excitement makes the season of Advent all the more important as a
teachable time, a time when children need adults to help them shape their attitudes and
understandings of the increased activity of these days, to help them focus on things of the
spirit amid the glitz of commercialism that so permeates the month of December.
A commitment to family worship during Advent gives the entire family opportunity to focus
on God and the meaning of the incarnation: God with us, molding, shaping, and changing
us in ways that please God.
First week in Advent (four weeks before Christmas)
Pray: Advent is here, Dear God, the time of waiting for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Be
with us, please, as we wait together. Help us use these days of waiting to grow closer to
you and to each other. Amen.
Talk: Talk with each other about things we wait for every day: the school bus to come,
bread to rise, seeds to sprout, a broken bone to mend, getting to the front of a long line, a
birthday to come, cookies to finish baking, etc. How does it feel to wait?
God’s people, Israel, knew about waiting. They had not obeyed God’s laws. They
worshipped other gods and did not live the way God wanted them to live. Disobeying God
made them weak. Other nations ruled over Israel because of Israel’s weakness. For many
long years, God’s people waited for the time when they would not be ruled by other nations,
when they would be free and strong again. Prophets, people who spoke for God, told the
people that God would help them, but they would have to wait for that help to come.
Read: Micah 5:2-5a
Talk: God’s people trusted God to keep the promise that God would help them by sending a
ruler, someone from among them. While they waited, they trusted that God would care for
Read: Psalm 130:5-8
Light the first Advent candle: We light this candle to remind us that God’s
people waited many years for God to help them, for God to send a ruler from among
them. “I will wait for the Lord …and I will hope in him.” (Isaiah 8:17)
Sing: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
Second week in Advent (three weeks Before Christmas)
Light the first Advent Candle: This candle reminds us of the long years God’s
people waited for the help, for the ruler God promised to send. While waiting, they
trusted God to keep the promise.
Pray: One week of Advent is passed, and still we wait, dear God, for the celebration
of Jesus’ birthday. As we wait, help us to prepare for the celebration by doing
things that Jesus did, things that please you.
Read: Luke 1:26-35
Talk with each other: How do you think Mary felt about what the angel told her?
Why do you think God chose an ordinary young woman to be Jesus’ mother? How
would Mary need to prepare for the birth of her child? How do parents prepare for
new babies today?
An Advent custom from Eastern Europe is preparing a bed for the Baby Jesus by
doing things for others that Jesus would do, things that would please God. Our
family can do that too. Here’s a container. We can use it as a bed and here are
pieces of straw (a small box or basket, three inches wide by six inches long by one
and one half inches deep is a good size).
For each kind and helpful thing each of us does for friends and family, we may put
one piece of straw in the bed. Be sure to do the kind and helpful things in a natural
way. We don’t want to announce what we are about. Someone may not realize
immediately what we have done to help, and that is the way it should be. By
Christmas Eve, perhaps we will have made a soft bed for Jesus by our kindness to
Read: Matthew 25:35-40
Light the second Advent candle: We light this candle to remind us that God
prepared for Jesus to come to our world by choosing parents for him, Mary and
Joseph. We can prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth by the loving things we do for
other people.
Sing: “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
Third week in Advent (two weeks before Christmas)
Have the two previous Advent candles lit before beginning worship.
Pray: Dear God, we wait these December days for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Help us prepare to welcome Jesus by doing for others those things that please you.
Forgive us when we think first of ourselves and what we want before thinking of
others and what they need. Thank you for your son Jesus and his coming to show
us your love. Amen
Sing: “Go Tell It on the Mountain”
Talk: Tell one another about a time when you were startled or surprised. How did
you feel inside? If you had been a shepherd, how might you have felt when an angel
spoke to you? Why do you think the shepherds were eager to go to Bethlehem? Do
you think they might have thought that what the angel said was too incredible?
Learn a Bible verse: Luke 2:10-11
Learn the verse by “lining.” The leader says a phrase and participants repeat the
phrase until all of the passage has been said. These phrases may be helpful:
“ but the angel said to them, �Do not be afraid,’
“ for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people:
“to you is born this day in the city of David
“ a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Talk: When the shepherds arrived in Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and
Jesus, what do you think they might have said to Mary and Joseph? What might
have Mary and Joseph said to the shepherds?
Read: Luke 2:20
Light the third Advent candle: We light this candle to remind us of the good
news the shepherds heard from the angel outside Bethlehem, the good news of
great joy for all people. Help us to be people that tell the Good News, the news that
God loves everyone.
Fourth week in Advent (the week before Christmas)
Pray: Dear God, we thank you for loving us so much that you sent Jesus to live
with us as brother, friend, and Savior. In these weeks of Advent, we have tried to
prepare for Christmas by thinking about your promise to send a Savior and about
people whom you created and whom you love. Help us to look for ways to love and
care for others as you love and care for us. Amen.
Light the Advent candles: We light candle one to remind us that God’s people
waited long years for Messiah, the one whom God would send as helper and ruler
for God’s people.
We light candle two remembering that God prepared for Jesus, the Messiah to be
born by choosing Mary and Joseph to be his parents. We, too, have been preparing
for Jesus by the acts of love and kindness done for others.
We light candle three to remind us of the good news the shepherds heard, news that
Messiah had finally come, that God’s promise was true, that a Savior was born.
We light candle four as we think of the gift God gave us in sending Jesus who shows
us the way of peace, justice, and love, who is our Savior and our Friend.
Read: Isaiah 9:2b, 6-7
Talk: Isaiah, the prophet, wrote that God would send a child who would be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. What are
other names you know for Jesus? (Teacher, Master, Lord, Savior, Lamb of God, Son
of God, etc.) Why do you think people have given Jesus these names? When you
think of Jesus, which of the many names He is called comes first to your mind?
Sing: “His Name is Wonderful”
Advent Activities for Church “Togetherings”
By Susan Phillips
Holly Days
Intergenerational Gathering for Preschoolers, Children, Their
families, and the Congregation
WHEN: First Sunday of Advent after morning worship service
WHERE: Fellowship Hall
WHAT: Soup and sandwich lunch with craft activities
(approx. two hours)
WHO’S RESPONSIBLE: Recreation and Food Service Committees and/or Preschool
and Children Committee as well as enlisted craft-talented persons
HOW: Invite each person who will teach a craft to set up a table with materials for several
people to assemble or create a simple Christmas craft in a few minutes’ time, such as:
• Tree ornaments
• Table decorations
• Painted cards
• Gift bags
• Jewelry
• Recipes to sample and copy (punch, fudge, cookies, etc.)
Encourage crafts which are Biblical or have nature theme (see guidelines). You will need
10-12 tables depending on number of people expected. One table should have materials for
constructing a family advent wreath (from wood, Styrofoam, etc.) with instructions for
family worship as candles are lit at home. People will choose which and how many crafts to
COST: Craft presenters should charge $.25, $.50, $1.00, etc. per person to cover their costs
of materials. A collections cup can be put at each table. A $1.00 or more charge for lunch
would be appropriate.
PROMOTION: Use posters, flyers, and newsletter articles requesting a sign-up in the
church office for the lunch and materials estimate.
MISSION/MINISTRY EMPHASIS--Consider some of these options:
1. Provide a table for homemade cards, which can be delivered to a local mission such as a
homeless shelter or adult daycare center for example.
2. Provide a table for making sandwiches for a shelter.
3. Ask for some creations to be donated to a collection, which will be delivered by carolers
to your homebound members.
1. This is a family activity and parents should remain to supervise their own children as
well as make crafts themselves.
2. This is a good outreach tool when prospective families would be glad to visit.
3. Encourage families to “adopt” a senior or single adult to join with them in the fun.
4. Numbers are difficult to judge if your church is remiss on sign-ups, but for the second
year you will have a better idea of expectations. Don’t worry if some crafts run out the first
year. Everyone will have made several items.
5. Be sure that persons are assigned to cleanup duty.
6. Provide paint smocks or cover ups for messy crafts or suggest that the participants bring
a change of clothes.
Preschool and Children Christmas Party
By Susan Phillips
WHEN: Have the party from 3:30-5:00 PM with parents and other adults and youth
joining the children to go caroling at 5:15 PM (large groups may require two hours). Go
caroling to homebound church members, around the church neighborhood, or to the homes
of prospects who have visited.
WHERE: Preschool and children Sunday School rooms
WHAT (PRESCHOOLERS): Remain in their rooms with activities such as cookie baking
and decorating, fruit punch making, gift making for parents, tree
ornaments for home or for the room (possibly using artificial trees
due to some fire codes), acting out the Christmas story
(spontaneous, not rehearsed or performed) with simple costumes
and a manger-box with hay*, taped Christmas music, homemade
wrist bells to play with music (large, non-choking bells), and a
visit to the sanctuary to view the decorations.
Avoid talking about Santa, the reindeer or other fictional Christmas symbols. Rather focus
on Baby Jesus and the idea of giving to others. (*Note: Some preschoolers may be allergic
to hay--substitute finely shredded brown paper.)
WHAT (CHILDREN--GRADES 1-6): Meet in their Sunday School rooms for 30
minutes of refreshments and Christmas games (word games and puzzles
and physical inside games, avoiding Santa and other fictional Christmas
characters). The next hour will be “Traveling Picture Posing” presented
by each class in their rooms for all of the other classes to view. The
scenes of the Christmas story from which to choose (depending on the
number of classes) are: The angel’s announcement to Mary, travel to
Bethlehem, arrival in Bethlehem and search for lodging, birth in the
stable/cave, announcement of angels to shepherds in the field and their visit to
the stable, and the later visit of the Wise Men.
Each class will be assigned a scene or two to pose and will be given costumes
from a costume closet or teachers may make simple costumes. Children will make simple
staging by drawing backdrops on butcher paper to hang on walls and gathering any simple
props for their scene. Characters for posing will be chosen by drawing names. Either
teachers or students will be given the scripture references to read while others are posing
the scene with no talking. Allow 30 minutes for this preparation.
Traveling to the various rooms to view the scenes will be the final 30 minutes of the time.
With costumes on and with respectful, reverent attitudes, all students will move to visit the
first chronological scene in the first room. The whole group will rotate to the next scene as
the children pose the picture as planned. In the final room when the last scene is complete,
an appointed teacher or child should lead in prayer and sing “Silent Night” or another
appropriate carol.
WHO: Children and preschool teachers coordinate plans. Parents may help make costumes
or bake refreshments. Preschool and children committees could plan a time of fellowship
with snacks for the parents. This time could include taped Christmas music, a display of
any recent Bible-learning activities, a pamphlet of Advent devotionals for families, and a
list of appropriate gifts for each child (not usually the commercially popular ones).
COST: Possible cost of fabric for costumes and refreshments could come from a budget
item for Sunday School or socials and fellowships.
PROMOTION: Cards of invitation to each child and any prospects is especially effective if
sent by teachers. Also promote in newsletter, bulletin, and on posters.
1. Measuring a child from neck to top of feet, and doubling measure can make costume
tunic. Fold fabric in half and cut a hole large enough for a child’s head. Zigzag stitch
around the neck hole and along sides. Use a sash as a belt and scarves and
headbands as a headdress.
2. Select the scenes according to the number of
characters needed, matching up with number of
pupils in class. One class could pose two scenes
if it is a large group or you have only two or
three children’s classrooms.
3. Every child should have a “part”
whether a character, prop helper, or
4. If the number of pupils is too large to
gather in any one Sunday School room,
you could use the fellowship hall or
5. If too many costumes are needed,
they could be shared between
6. Planning church Christmas
caroling after the party encourages
more families to participate and provides a ministry activity for families caroling
7. Children love drama, but must be guided to be respectful of each group’s
Involving Children in Worship During the Advent Season
By Anita Thompson
1. The Advent Wreath
There is no one set custom for the designation of each of the candles on the Advent wreath,
with the exception of the White Christ Candle, which is placed in the center. Some
traditions use a pink candle on the third Sunday of Advent. Historically, the third Sunday
of Advent was a day in which the congregation set aside the discipline of fasting. The color
pink is to symbolize joy. Since in this day and time few people choose to follow the discipline
of fasting during Advent, it is recommended that the pink candle be replaced with a purple
candle like the other three, thus the Advent wreath will have a center white Christ candle
encircled by four purple candles. (Some churches are now replacing the color purple with
royal blue. Since the color purple is used for the season of Lent, these churches like to use
the royal blue instead of purple to make a definite distinction between the two seasons.)
Some recommendations for the designation of each candle:
(1) Hope
(2) Peace
(3) Joy
(4) Love
(1) Prophecy Candle
(2) Bethlehem Candle
(3) Shepherd’s Candle
(4) Angel’s Candle
(1) Expectation
(2) Preparation
(3) Proclamation
(4) Revelation
a. Select a different family or individual to light an Advent candle each Sunday. A
wonderful way to do this is to connect each family or individual with a candle, which
has a theme that reflects an event in their own life. For example, a family that has a
new baby might speak about the joy this child has brought to their life and then
light the Joy Candle. A family who has experienced a tough year, yet has persevered
and has held on to their strong faith could speak about hope and then light the Hope
b. An Advent song could be taught to the congregation on the first Sunday of
Advent. It could be sung each Sunday as the candles are lighted. Many of these
songs contain five verses, one for each of the Sundays of Advent plus Christmas Eve.
Such songs can be found in many hymnals. The Chorister’s Guild, an organization
devoted to quality Christmas music for children, adults and youth also publishes
several Advent candle songs. (The Choristers Guild, 2834 W. Kingsley Road,
Garland, TX 75041-2498)
2. Advent Banners
Once the themes have been chosen for each of the Sundays of Advent, a banner can be
made to coincide with each theme. The banners need not be elaborate. Banners, made by
children with markers, can be quite worshipful. A child could process in during the singing
of the Advent song each Sunday and hang the banner in the sanctuary. By Christmas Eve,
when all five banners are hanging, the children’s work will be a wonderful visual offering.
3. The Advent Scripture Readings
Children could read most of the Advent readings. It is recommended that an appropriate
adult practice with the child to help him or her become more comfortable with reading
scripture in worship. Have the child read from his or her own Bible.
4. Advent Prayers
Have a parent and child write a prayer based on the Advent theme for that day. For
example, a parent could talk with the child about love and how God’s gift of the baby Jesus
was a wonderful way for God to tell us that He loves us. The child could then read the
prayer during the worship service.
5. Music for Advent
A child or a children’s choir could sing an Advent song based on the theme for the day. A
parent and child could sing a duet, or an entire family could sing together.
6. Advent Worship Bulletins
You may purchase pre-printed Children’s Worship bulletins for Advent or you may make
your own. Again it would be appropriate to tie the worship bulletin to the Advent theme for
that day.
7. The Advent Scriptures (Taken from the Revised Common Lectionary)
Note: The Revised Common Lectionary is made up of three cycles of scripture readings,
called Cycle A, Cycle B, and Cycle C or Year A, Year B, and Year C. Therefore every three
years, a cycle is repeated. The cycle begins with the First Sunday of Advent. In 1998, Cycle
A began on the First Sunday of Advent, November 29.
Following is a list of the scripture readings for Advent/Christmas 1998 (Cycle A).
The readings for the remainder of the church year can be found in resources based on the
Revised Common Lectionary.
The 1998 Advent/Christmas Scripture Readings
(Cycle A of the Revised Common Lectionary)
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Matthew 24:36-44
Romans 13:11-14
Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Matthew 3:1-12
Romans 15:4-13
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:5-10
Matthew 11:2-11
James 5: 7-10
Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Matthew 1:18-25
Romans 1:1-7
Isaiah 9:2-7
Isaiah 62:6-12
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 96
Psalm 97
Psalm 98
Luke 2:1-14 ,15-20
Luke 2:1-7, 8-20
John 1:l-14
Titus 2: 11-14
Titus 3: 4-7
Hebrews 1:1-4,
Advent Worship Resources for Children
Compiled by Anita Thompson
Forbid Them Not Involving Children in Sunday Worship
Based on the Revised Common Lectionary
Separate Books for Years A, B and C
Carolyn C. Brown
Abingdon Press
201 Eighth Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
1991 through 1994
Contains Children’s Commentary, Weekly Worship Worksheets,
Vocabulary Helps, Hymn Suggestions, Sermon Starters and Scripture
Table of contents divided into sections: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent,
Easter, Pentecost and After.
Approximately $19.95 per book.
Worship Time with Kids
(Reproducible Pages)
Cindy Dingwall
Abingdon Press
201 Eighth Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
Chapter 7 contains worship helps for what they call Celebration Days
(The Church Year): Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday,
Easter, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and
Approximately $19.95.
Young Children and Worship
Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman
Westminster/John Knox
Louisville, KY
Contains a complete section on “Stories for the Church Year: Advent and
Christmas”. The first chapter in this section is an introduction to Advent.
Then there are chapters for each of the 4 Sundays of Advent, one for
Christmas and one titled “The Boy Jesus in the Temple.” (The remainder of
the Church Year is covered in the book as well.)
Approximately $23.00
The Church Cares for Children
Martha B. Pillow, Editor
Mary Anne Fowlkes, Writer
Presbyterian Publishing House
Louisville, KY
Chapter 8, section 3 contains helps for teaching children about the Advent
and Christmas season. Some are useful for use in the worship service; others
are useful for classroom activities and/or special events.
Approximately $29.95
Handbook of Christmas Programs
William Hendricks and Cora Vogel
Baker Book House
Grand Rapids, Michigan
1986 (5th Printing)
Contains resources for both Advent and Christmas. Sections Listed:
В«Programs to be used in Worship Services
В«Programs to be given to audiences.
В«Programs for groups without audiences.
Approximately $9.95.
Preparing for the Messiah, Ideas for Teaching/Celebrating Advent
Doris Williams and Patrician Griggs
Abingdon Press
201 Eighth Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
1984 (4th Printing)
Chapter Titles:
В«The Importance of Traditions
В«Teachers Prepare
В«Children Prepare
В«Youth Prepare
В«The Congregation Prepares
Approximately $9.95
Come, Lord Jesus
(A Children’s Advent Service with Adult Participation)
[Actually a small booklet instead of a full book.]
Mervin A. Marquardt
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Ave.
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118-3968
Complete worship services for all the Sundays of Advent and Christmas
Approximately $1.75 each.
Celebration Services for Christmas
William W. Null
Educational Ministries, Inc.
Resources appropriate for various ages for the Christmas Season only. No
Advent resources.
Approximately $12.95.
Publishing Companies that publish good worship and educational materials for the
Church Year. Call and get on their mailing list:
В¶Creative Communications for the Parish *
10300 Watson Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63127
* Publishes wonderful resources for all seasons of the church year: Advent Calendars for
children, youth and adults; Advent devotional books for children, youth, and adults; and
many other Children’s Advent resources. As always when you order materials from a nonBaptist publishing company, you have to read the information carefully and make sure the
theology agrees with the theology of your church.
В¶Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Ave.
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118-3968
В¶Upper Room Books
1908 Grand Avenue
P.O. Box 189
Nashville, TN 37202
В¶The Choristers Guild **
2834 W. Kingsley Road
Garland, TX 75041-2498
** Music publishing company that specializes in children’s music (although they do
publish music for youth, adults and hand bells as well.) Membership is required; but
through it, you receive copies of all octavos (single songs) and musicals. The
Chorister’s Guild follows the liturgical calendar; therefore several of the packets
contain wonderful children’s music for use during Advent, Christmas and other
times of the church year.
Celebrate Christmas
By Janet Myers, First Baptist Church, Asheboro, NC
Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to plan an intergenerational event for your entire
church family. Depending on the size of your congregation, plan a fun-filled night of
creating Christmas treasures such as decorations, ornaments, or gifts that target all ages.
Include crafts that are rated Preschool Only, Quick and Easy,
Intermediate, and Challenging. Select the largest space available
(we began in our church Fellowship Hall and have now expanded to
the Family Life Center) and set up “crafting stations” complete
with all the needed materials for a “Make-it-Take-it experience.”
Enlist facilitators for each station to assist crafters as needed. As
friends arrive, have them sign in; take a custom designed
\decorative shopping bag for all their treasures, and a guide for the
year’s crafting choices. Choosing what to do first is sometimes difficult! But the excitement
and joy of seeing friends and being together with people of all ages quickly moves folks at
will from station to station.
A homemade cookie decorating station for refreshments and a cozy nook to relax to favorite
seasonal carols provides a time and place to compare treasures and share favorite activities.
The Bethlehem Stable is always a favorite for preschoolers and younger children, complete
with walk-in stable, straw bales, manger, Baby Jesus, and Bible-times dress up clothes. A
faithful teacher or good storyteller can help the children understand the true meaning of
Christmas as they dress in Bible-times costumes and reenact the events of that special
night. Don’t forget to have a camera ready to capture those tender moments!
Because the holidays are a great time to stress the importance of caring for others, why not
include a mission action project as part of the night’s events? A “sock tree” (artificial tree
adorned with new pairs of children’s socks in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes with a
Bible verse tucked inside) can provide an opportunity for families to share with children
less fortunate.
Socks can be brought by crafters and placed on the tree or can be donated by different
church program areas. Distribution to your local women’s shelter could be in bulk or by
individual families. A “Community Bakery” from which treats are packaged with a
decorative twist and delivered by families to community helpers such as firefighters, police
officers, or emergency medical response teams provides opportunities to say “thanks for all
you do.”
My favorite ministry project happened the year that hurricane Floyd devastated families in
the eastern regions of North Carolina. Countless families lost everything, including festive
decorations, holiday ornaments and trims used as a part of family traditions at
Christmastime. To help restore some of their Christmas spirit, crafters brought new
Christmas tree lights and Christmas tree decorations to be donated and delivered to victims
before Christmas. The joy created by giving to others remained in my heart long after that
holiday season ended and is still a silent reminder that everywhere there are hurting
people who need restoration and hope, especially the Hope of the Christ Child.
Celebrating the joy of Christmas is a privilege at any age. Why not begin a tradition at
your church that brings generations together for generations to come!
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas…
By Steve Sumerel, Family Ministry Consultant, Baptist State Convention of NC
…And it’s only November! It may be sounding a lot like Christmas
in your home, as well. Toy companies are already vying for top
position on your child’s “want list.”
In our society almost everything about Christmas is taken to an
extreme; the greediness of advertising, the extravagance of lights
and decorations, and of course, the extreme stress to buy more,
get more, give more, and party more. About the only thing that
does not get the attention it really deserves is the true
meaning of Christmas itself.
Most would agree that the season is too commercialized, too busy, and too distant from its
origins. However, there is still much good that can come from enjoying the secular
trappings of Christmas. Christmas is like no other time, and to a child it is a time of
extraordinary sights, sounds, and wonder. Adults see ads and feel misery; children see
adventure and feel the mystery. To experience the magic of Christmas, the season is best
seen through the eyes of a child. However, to appreciate the meaning of Christmas, parents
must take the lead in preparing their children for the season of Advent.
The Advent season is a time to re-enact the world’s longing, preparation, and receiving of
the Messiah. Advent conveys the sense of excitement and intentionality so that those
prepared will be able to experience fully Christ’s coming (Luke 1:76). In keeping with this
understanding of Advent, the Christmas season is a time to prepare the family for the
coming of Christ into the home. Our society creates an extraordinary environment that
says, “There is something very special about this season.” Parents create a home life that
explains what it is.
Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, and wise men, all welcomed Jesus into the world.
Likewise, families can celebrate Advent by welcoming Jesus into the home. Advent is a
time of invite Jesus to be a part of family conversation, rituals, and mission.
During Advent parents can become much more intentional in bringing Jesus into
conversation with their children. For example, think how people collecting money in
kettles, colored lights, pretty presents, and so many other “trappings” of the season, can
become object lessons and points of conversation about what Jesus did for all of us.
There are probably many Christmas traditions that your family already follows; hanging
stockings, leaving milk and cookies for Santa, decorating the Christmas tree. Each year
parents can add a ritual or tradition that brings Christ into the season. Families can read
the biblical account at mealtimes, bedtime, or as the family is decorating the tree. Children
enjoy creating stories about the characters of the nativity scene.
I heard of a family who waits until the night of Christmas Eve to put the Christ-child into
their nativity scene manger. These parents report that presents under
the tree are left waiting until the children have checked to be sure
that Christ has arrived. This is what Advent is all about.
Just as God gave the ultimate gift, families can give the love of
Christ as their family mission during this season of the year.
Making sure your children have an important part in the
preparation of baskets, meals, or wrapping toys for
distribution can bring Christ into their understanding of the
season. Often traditions of helpfulness that begin as special
Christmas activities will continue throughout the year.
Create special Christmas photo albums. These collections can help create the continuity of
traditions designed to bring Jesus into the home. Do not forget to incorporate pictures from
past generations that help support the notion of the timelessness of the gift of Christ.
Help your child create an Advent adventure. Welcome Christ to your home!
Children’s Sermons for Advent Season
The following sermons can be used in a children’s worship time in the
congregational worship service the four Sundays prior to Christmas. You may use
it in connection with an Advent wreath if your church uses one, or you may use the
word and Bible truth for each Sunday and eliminate references to the candles in the
Advent wreath.
The following sermons were written by Janet Smith: Associate Pastor of the
Preschool and Children’s Ministry, First Baptist Church, Asheboro, NC.
First Sunday of Advent: Hope (Four weeks before Christmas)
Preparation: Write the word “HOPE” on a placard. Mark the verse Isaiah 7:14 in
your Bible.
The word “advent” means coming. When we celebrate Advent in the church we
remember Jesus’ coming to earth as a baby. There are many things that remind us
of when Jesus was born. One reminder we have in our church is the Advent
wreath. Each Sunday between now and Christmas, we will light a candle on the
wreath, and we will remember that Jesus’ birthday, Christmas, is getting closer and
The first candle that we light on the Advent wreath reminds us of HOPE. (Hold up
HOPE placard.) A long time before Jesus was born; the Jewish people were sad and
unhappy. They thought God didn’t care about them. So God gave some special
men some good news. God told them that His Son, Jesus was going to be born.
(Read Isaiah 7:14 from Bible) “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The
virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
“Immanuel” is another name for Jesus. This special promise is called a prophecy.
Now the people knew that God had not forgotten them. Now they had hope that
their lives would be better one day when God’s Son would be born. God was
sending Jesus to love them and show them how to live. Jesus wasn’t born until
several hundred years later, but the Jewish people remembered God’s promise and
they had hope that Jesus would be born one day.
We also have hope. God has promised us that Jesus is always listening anywhere
and anytime we talk to Him. Jesus loves us and cares about us. That gives us hope
for every day we live whether it is a good day or a bad day. Jesus is with us while
we’re at school, at home, at church, with friends, and with our families. Also, when
we read the Bible and pray Jesus helps us learn how to live the way he wants us to.
Advent is a good time to look forward to Christmas and think about Jesus being
born. It’s also a good time to think about Jesus being with us every day, loving us
and helping us to live in a way that will please him.
Second Sunday of Advent: Peace (Three Weeks before Christmas)
Preparation: Write the word “PEACE” on a placard. Mark the verse Isaiah 9:6 in
your Bible.
Close your eyes. (Pause) Think about a place you like to go that is quiet and
peaceful. Think about how you feel when you go there. Open your eyes. Does it
feel good when things are quiet and peaceful around you?
Many times peace depends on us—what we do or don’t do. I can remember
unhappy times as a child when my misbehavior upset my parents or the routine in
my home. At those times I felt unhappy, sad, and even afraid. Everyone in the
family felt better when it was peaceful--when we were relaxed, happy, and enjoying
being around each other. People who help to make things peaceful are called
It is helpful for us to be peacemakers at church and school, too. If we’re rowdy or
uncooperative, everyone feels unsettled, irritable, or even angry. If, however, we try
to get along with others, help each other, and be peacemakers, we will be more
relaxed, happy, ready to learn, and enjoy being with each other.
The second candle in our Advent wreath reminds us of peace. (Hold up PEACE
placard.) Jesus learned about being a peacemaker in his own family. The Bible tells
us He was obedient to His parents. Probably He worked with His father in the
carpentry shop and helped His mother in the home. He knew that by cooperating
and obeying his parents he could help make His home more peaceful. He is a good
example for us, showing us by his life that there is something we can do about how
peaceful it is around us. (Read Isaiah 9: 6 from Bible.) In the Bible we read “For to
us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince
of Peace.” Being like Jesus, doing the things He would do, will help us be peaceful
inside and help to bring peace around us.
Third Sunday of Advent: Joy (Two Weeks before Christmas)
Preparation: Write the word “JOY” on a placard. Get two or three pictures of
parents with their child when they were infants. Mark the verses Luke 2:10-11 in
your Bible. Secure picture of the nativity from children’s picture file.
Show the pictures to the children and ask if they recognize the people. Point out
how happy the parents look.
Before you were born your parents probably looked forward to your arrival with
great excitement and anticipation. The months of waiting for your birth may have
seemed like a very long time because they were anxious for you to become their
little girl or little boy. Mary and Joseph probably felt the same way while they were
waiting for the birth of Jesus. They probably wondered what their child would look
like and be like. The waiting may have seemed long to them, too.
At long last you arrived! What joy they felt! How happy they were finally to see you
and hold you after waiting for you so long. Probably right away your parents began
calling relatives and friends to tell them about you and to share their joy. For some
of you, I was on that list of folks to call and was happy to see and hold you when you
were a newborn baby.
The third candle in the Advent wreath reminds us of joy. (Show JOY placard and
then show picture of nativity.) Mary was also excited and joyful when Jesus was
born. She was glad to finally see him and hold him after all the waiting. God felt
joy, too, because Jesus’ birth meant His long-promised plan was happening. This
baby was the Son whom hundreds of years ago God had promised to send one day.
He wanted everyone to know about Jesus’ birth, just as your parents did. God sent
angels to tell the shepherds Jesus was born. (Read Luke 2:10-11) “the angel said to
them (the shepherds), �Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will
be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he
is Christ the Lord.’” God wanted to be sure the joyful news got around!
We still feel joy as we celebrate Jesus’ birth now at Christmas, and God still wants
that joyful news to get around today. It’s up to us to let others know that Christmas
is special because it is Jesus’ birthday.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love (Week before Christmas)
Preparation: Write the word “LOVE” on a placard. Have a wrapped present. Mark
1 John 4:9a in your Bible.
What is this? (Show wrapped present.) Christmas is a time for giving and receiving
presents. Sometimes we give presents to get presents. We may try to bribe
somebody into liking us by giving him or her a gift, or we may give a gift because we
feel as if we have to. The best presents, though, are given out of love. It is fun to
give gifts that please someone we care about.
The fourth candle in the Advent wreath reminds us of love. (Hold up LOVE
placard.) God gave us a gift at Christmas because He loves us. It was not in a
wrapped box like this one. What gift did God give us? (Jesus) God sent Jesus to
show us that He loves us and to show us how he wants us to live. The best way we
can say thank you to God for his gift of Jesus is to love Him. We can tell God we
love him, but to show God we love him by the way we
act is even better.
This time of year we need to act as if Christmas
something to us. In the middle of trees, presents,
and Santa
Claus lists, remember that the most important
part of
Christmas is celebrating Jesus’ birth.
is Jesus’ birthday and we can find lots of ways
celebrate by giving to others. Tell a friend or
parent the
Christmas story. We need to show that
is special to us because God loved us enough to
send Jesus.
(Read 1 John 4:9a from Bible.) “God loved us
and sent
his son.”
Other Suggestions for the four Sundays of Advent
Prophecy. Isaiah 9:2, 7:14
Bethlehem. Luke 2:1-7, Micah 5:2
Shepherds. Luke 2:8-20
Wise Men. Matthew 2:1-12
Prince of Peace
Son of God
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