Christmas Family Advent Experience – Week Four
Theme for Week Four: PEACE – Welcoming Jesus
A Family Night Experience from Teaming Life
with Robert & Pamela Crosby
Getting Ready for Your Family Advent Experience:
Below you will find all the information you need to prepare for Week Four 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 Fourth Candle on the Advent Wreath: Someone in the family should light the First Second, Third and Fourth Advent Candles. Let the kids take turns doing this, if it helps get everyone involved. The fourth candle you light tonight (or today) will be a purple candle around the exterior circumference of the wreath (not the center one yet – since that is not lit until Christmas day). This represents the coming of Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem.
Reading the Bible Story: Read Luke 2:1-20 – the story of incredible events that led to the birth of the Christ child. Tonight we focus on WELCOMING JESUS into our hearts and homes, just as Mary and Joseph welcomed him into theirs so many years ago. 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 “MARY”, another one can be “JOSEPH” or an “ANGEL”. If you have a large tribe, one could even be the SOUND EFFECTS, making sounds of some of the various ANIMALS in the manger, etc.. 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 PEACE that surrounded the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. 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:
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So JOSEPH went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with MARY, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to A SON, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were SHEPHERDS camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s ANGEL stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The ANGEL said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the ANGEL was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the ANGEL CHOIR withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
MARY kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told! (Luke 2:1-20, The Message)
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 to make cookies in the shape of angels. Depending on how much time you have, you could prep the cookies and put them in the oven. Then, have your Advent devotional while they are baking. Once the baking alarm goes off signaling they are ready, you can let them cool and enjoy them.
- An Activity for Younger Children – At the start or end of your Family Advent Experience, play a game of “searching for ANGELS”. Before the night starts and while the kids are out of the room, hide the ANGEL or ANGELS 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 off some excess energy.
- Songs to Play or Sing – Some of the songs that relate to this week’s Advent theme of PEACE include Silent Night; What Child is This?; O Holy Night; O Come All Ye Faithful; Away in a Manger; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; and Do You Hear What I Hear.
- An Activity for Pre-Teens & Teens – Ask Up! – Take time to ask them Questions that relate to the theme of PEACE. 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 that happened to you that really upset you? What kinds of things do you tend to worry about the most? What are some of the things that people worry about today? Do you think Mary and Joseph were anxious as they awaited Jesus’ birth? How did the birth of Jesus become the birth of “peace”, the “Prince of Peace”?
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 Bethlehem and the birth of the Son of God. Thank you for the way Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus into their lives and their home. Thank you for the Angels you sent to announce and celebrate Jesus’ birth. Thank you for the peace we can have when we open our hearts and homes to Jesus, Your Son. We welcome you in our lives right here tonight.
In Jesus Name.
NOTE: Give us feedback on how it went or if you have any questions. Looking forward to sharing our Advent #5 Lesson on Hope this coming Friday.
Read more blog posts like this one from Robert & Pamela Crosby – Teaming Life at teaming life.com.