Back in 2008, a group of leaders from Sojourn Community Church put together the following Bible lesson and art project to teach the children in our church about Advent. Collaborators included Mike Cosper, now director of Harbor Media, Matt Douthitt, Katherine Valentine (now Groce), Chandi Plummer, and myself.
Bible Lesson written by Mike Cosper
Key Passages: John 1:5; Isaiah 9:2, 6; Luke 2
The Big Idea (An Introduction for the Teacher and Worship Leader): For a long time, Christians have celebrated the weeks before Christmas with a season known as advent. Advent simply means “coming” or “waiting.” For many, many years, God’s people were eager to meet Jesus. He was a king and a warrior that was coming to set them free from their sins. The Bible tells us that ever since sin came into the world the whole world has been waiting for Jesus to come and bring redemption both to his people and the fallen world (Romans 8:18-25). The prophet Isaiah describes the fallen world as a place of darkness into which the light of Jesus would come to shine. The good news of advent season is that the one whom the world has been waiting for has come and is coming again. Today, we will introduce our children to the Light who has come to shine in the darkness, and we will challenge them to look for and wait for him in worship. Here are our keys learning objectives for this lesson. When the lesson is through, each child will know:
- Advent means coming.
- Before Jesus came, God’s people waited eagerly to meet him.
- Jesus came as a king and warrior to set his people free from sin.
- The world now waits eagerly for Jesus to come again.
Welcome (5 minutes) During the Welcome portion of each lesson, greet the children warmly as they come into the classroom and encourage them to gather at the activity area. Ask the children to help you set up supplies and prepare for the art project. Use the following introductory paragraph or a variation of it to introduce each child to the lesson:
Does anyone know what time of year it is? (Pause and wait for a response). That’s right, it is Christmas time. For a long time, Christians have celebrated the weeks before Christmas with a season known as Advent. Advent means “coming” or “waiting.” When we’re really excited about something that’s coming, we say, “I can’t wait.” What are some things we say “I can’t wait" about? (Birthdays, Guests, Vacations, Presents, Christmas, etc.) Celebrating advent is a way of saying “I can’t wait” for Jesus to come.
Read the Scripture (2-3 minutes): Don’t just read it. Know it and bring it to life!
Celebrating advent is a way of saying, “I can’t wait” for Jesus to come. One way that we celebrate advent is to light candles, lamps, and lights in honor of Jesus. The apostle John tells us that when Jesus came into the world:
What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out (John 1:5, The Message).
Isaiah says it like this:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 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 (Isaiah 9:2, 6 NIV).
The whole world was living in a kind of spiritual darkness. They were lost without Jesus, but when Jesus came, it was like someone switched on the lights. Suddenly, in Jesus, we had light, we had truth, we had hope. Part of what makes Christmas so special is remembering advent – remembering the time of darkness before the light came into the world.
Light in the Darkness Game (2-3 minutes) Let’s play a game to celebrate advent. Advent celebrates the light that came to the darkness. So let’s pretend that we’re in the dark, (lights turned off), we’re scared, and we’re anxious for hope. Let’s all find a hiding place, and we need to be as quiet as we possibly can. Quick go hide! Now when the lights come on, we need to celebrate that it’s GREAT news. So when the lights come on, you need to jump up, bounce up and down, and shout for joy. Are you ready?
Repeat the game three times. Each time, the leader should say, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great… LIGHT!" Then, turn the lights on and encourage the kids to show more excitement. At the end of the game transition the kids to singing.
Tomorrow we will preview the Advent Music Liturgy that will immediately follow this lesson on Sunday.
Echo the Truth in Song (Worship liturgy by Chandi Plummer):
Leader 1: So what are we celebrating today? (Prompt children to say Advent)
Leader 2: Advent is the month before Christmas, when we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth. Does anyone know what city Jesus was born in? (Prompt children to say Bethlehem) And do you know what kind of building he was born in? (Prompt children to say Advent)
Leader 1: That’s right! Jesus wasn’t treated like a king when he was born. He was treated like a servant. But from his humble beginnings, he came to be the most important man in history – because he was God’s son. Let’s sing songs about him!
Song 1: “He is Born (A Christmas Lullaby)” Words and Music by Jeremy Quillo © 2007
Leader 2: When Jesus was born, they wrapped him in cloths and laid him down in a manger. Does anyone know what a manger is? It’s like a trough, a feeding box that animals would eat out of. Can you imagine laying a baby in a dog bowl? Or a pig sty? Yuck! But that was all he had. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus could have such a quiet, humble beginning? Let’s sing about that beginning together.
Song 2: “Away in a Manger,” Words by Anonymous, 1885, 1892; Music by James R. Murray, 1887.
Leader 1: An angel appeared to some Shepherds who were out watching over their sheep. The shepherds were very surprised to be visited by the angels. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! We have good news for you and for everybody in the whole world! For today, in Bethlehem, the city of David, a Savior is born, Christ the LORD!” And then do you know what happened? Suddenly the whole sky was full of angels praising GOD and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, goodwill to men!” We are going to be like the angels this morning, singing joyfully to God! We are going to sing: “Joy to the world!”
Song 3: "God Is With Us," Words by Jeremy Quillo. Music by Jeremy Quillo & Dustin Neeley. Sojourn Music © 2002 from the album Advent Songs