Christmas Family Advent Experience – Week One
Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas with Your Kids
Theme for Week One: HOPE – Searching for Jesus
A Family Night Experience from Teaming Life
with Robert & Pamela Crosby
Getting Ready for Your Family Advent Experience:
The best nights in our Christmas season as a family over the years have always been family night. For us, engaging in a family Advent experience leading up to Christmas is always a great way to keep Christ in Christmas. Advent has been a part of many Christians celebration of the Christmas season for generations. Advent is a celebration of “the three comings” of Christ: (1) of his coming to the world on Christmas as a little baby, (2) of his coming into our hearts as we believe in him; and (3) of the day he will come again to bring us to himself.
Starting three or four weeks before Christmas, we reserve one night a week we reserved to connect with our kids over a meal and an engaging time of remembering the real reason for the season. This advent guide is Part One of 5 Family Advent Experiences. These can be used once a week, once a day for 5 days or in any sequence schedule that you can fit into your family schedule.
Below you will find all the information you need to prepare for Week One of the Family Advent Experience. The structure is short and simple, but we also have provided some extra ideas so you can tailor it to your family and setting. You can use this week to connect with your family tribe and learn about one of the most dramatic moments in the Christmas story.
A Guide for Your Family Advent Experience – Step by Step:
Setting Up: Before you gather your family for the First Advent Experience, take a little time to prepare. Have your advent wreath, candles and a lighter or matches ready. Some instrumental Christmas music in the background always helps. You may want to dim the house lights just a bit. If you are going to have a meal together before or after the Advent experience, get ready for this to not take too much time so you can focus on advent.
Lighting the First Candle on the Advent Wreath: Someone in the family should light the First Advent Candle. This would be one of the 4 white exterior candles (not the center one yet – that is not lit until Christmas day).
Reading the Bible Story: Read Matthew 2:1-12 – the story of The Wise Men and their original search for the Christ child. You may want to use BibleGateway.com or Youversion.com to find the Biblical passage. If your children are old enough (pre-teen or teen years) you may want to read the passage, have one of them read it or listen to an audio version on YouVersion.com. If they are younger, we suggest you “tell” the story using the next, Make It Plain, section.
Acting Out the Bible Story – Making it PLAIN: Create your own drama production of the story. Assign a role in the story to each of your kids. For example, one of them can be the reader, one can be “Herod”, others can be some of “The Wise Men,” etc. If you have a large tribe, one could even be the sound effects, “waves” or the “thunder” during the storm. Also, you may want to have your spouse or one of the older children video this for legacy sake and for future use.
As you re-tell this Biblical story and focus on the HOPE that led the Wise Men to the Baby Jesus. Take your time as you read it. Read short parts and then have the kids act it out – even more than once. Pause and give each character their lines – and urge them to say them with feeling. Help them make it fun and memorable. All the while you will be impressing God’s word on your children’s’ minds and lives. Here is a simple narration or story-like re-telling of it to help you dramatize this story at home with your kids:
Long ago there was king named HEROD. At the same time, there were some WISE MEN who came a long distance from the east all the way to Jerusalem. As they traveled around, they asked people an important question: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” They were so eager to find a little baby because they really believed that he would be the new King. And how did they know? Well, they had seen an unusual star, HIS star, the king’s star. They had followed that star from far, far away to find the new baby King. They told the people, “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
But when KING HEROD heard this news about a NEW king, he was worried, very worried, because he did not want any king taking his place or his power away. He was worried about this, really worried, so he brought all of his priests and scribes together just to find out if they could tell him where this new KING, THE CHRIST, was going to be born. When he asked them, they answered: “He is going to be born in BETHLEHEM of Judea, because this is what the prophet predicted when he wrote: ‘O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are not the least of the leaders of Judah; one day a RULER will come from you who will be the shepherd of my people, of Israel.’
When KING HEROD heard this news, he was worried and he secretly called for THE WISE MEN to come and see him. He didn’t want anyone else to know he was doing this. He asked them more about THE STAR they had followed and when they had first seen it. Then he told them to go to BETHLEHEM and he said to the WISE MEN, “Go and search, really search and search and search for the child until you find him, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may come and worship him.” But Herod didn’t really want to worship the new baby King; he was afraid of him coming and taking his power away.
After they met with THE KING, THE WISE MEN went on their way. Then, suddenly, THE STAR SHINED BRIGHT AGAIN and it led the way for them and settled right over the place where the child, the Baby Jesus, was laying. When they saw THE STAR they got so excited, filled up with joy until they felt they would explode.
THE STAR pointed to way and lit the path up for them to go all the way to SEE THE BABY who was with MARY HIS MOTHER. Once they got to the place where THE LITTLE CHILD JESUS was, they fell down and worship him. They were so happy to see him. They new something was so special about him and something very holy was happening. Then, they open their treasures and gave Jesus gifts of GOLD, FRANKINCESE and MYRRH.
Once THE WISE MEN found JESUS, they were supposed to go back to tell KING HEROD. But, something happened that stopped them from doing that. God sent a dream to them and warned them NOT TO GO BACK to Herod. So, they left Jesus’ home and took another road all the way back to their home, to the land of the East.
Bringing the Bible Story to Life:
Here are some additional ways to make this Family Advent Experience even more memorable:
- Food to Share – One way to make this night memorable and multi-sensory for your family is to add some kind of food to the night. So, one drama prop you could use for your activated story would be “gold and silver” in a basket for the Wise Men to bring as a gift. Pick up some Hershey’s Chocolate gold nuggets and Hershey’s Silver Bells to place in a basket or small box. After the story – let everybody enjoy the chocolates!
Songs to Play or Sing – Some of the songs that relate to this week’s Advent theme of The Wise Men include We Three Kings and Wise Men Still Seek Him.
- An Activity for Younger Children – At the start or end of your Family Advent Experience, play a game of “searching for The Wise Men”. Before the night starts and while the kids are out of the room, hide the wise men statuettes from your nativity scene somewhere in the house. At the right time let them search for them with you notifying them of their “hot” or “cold” proximities. This is a great way to liven the night up and burn some excess energy.
- An Activity for Pre-Teens & Teens – Ask Up! – Take time to ask them Questions that relate to the theme of HOPE. Let the discussions flow as best they can, allowing your kids to open up as much as they will and for you to hear each other well: What is something you once lost that really upset you? What did it take to find it? What are some of the things that people search for the hardest to find in life? What do you think you are searching for? How will you know when you find it? Do we search for God or does he search for us?
An Advent Prayer for Your Family:
Someone can prayer this prayer or one similar at the end of the night:
Thank you for the story of the Wise Men. They worked so hard to search for Jesus. You sent an unusual star to light the way, but they chose to follow you all the way until they found Jesus. Help us to follow all the light you give us and find our way all the way to Jesus and his love for each of us. Bless our lives, our family and our celebration of Christmas.
In Jesus Name.
NOTE: Give us feedback on how it went or if you have any questions. Looking forward to sharing our Advent #2 Lesson on Hope next Monday.
Read more blog posts like this one from Robert & Pamela Crosby – Teaming Life at teaming life.com.