Christmas Family Advent Experience – Week Three
A Family Night Experience from Teaming Life
with Robert & Pamela Crosby
Theme for Week Three: JOY – Announcing Jesus
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 Three 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 Third Advent Experience, take a little time to prepare. Make sure your advent wreath is ready, also that the candles and a lighter or matches are ready. Some instrumental Christmas music in the background always helps. You may want to dim the house lights just a bit to set the mood and focus of the night, and so the candles will shine bright. 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 Third Candle on the Advent Wreath: You may want to turn all, or most, of the lights in the room out. Then, someone in the family should light the First, Second and Third Advent Candles. This would be three of the 4 white exterior candles around the Advent Wreath (not the center candle yet – that is not lit until Christmas day).
Reading the Bible Story: Read Luke 2:8-20 –– the story of Mary & Joseph waiting for the Christ child to come. 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, dramatize (or activate) it, using the next, Making It Plain, section.
Acting Out the Bible Story – Making it PLAIN: Create your own drama production of the Angel’s Announcement to the Shepherds story, your own nativity drama right there in your family room. Assign a role in the story to each of your kids. For example, one of them can be the reader, one (or more) can be “the Shepherds,” another can be “Gabriel”, you could even dress your dog up as a “sheep” (be kind – J), the angel (though the Scripture does not list Gabriel specifically as the angel in this case, many scholars believe this may have been one in the same as the angel who announced to Mary and Joseph), etc. Also, you may want to have your spouse or one of the older children video this for legacy sake and for future use. (To this day, our kids love to look back at some of the earliest Bible story times we had together when they were little).
As you re-tell this Biblical story and focus on the POWERFUL MOMENT and GREAT ANNOUNCEMENT the angel made to the Shepherds, take your time as you read the story. No rush. Read short parts and then have the kids act it out, phrase by phrase – even more than once. They can even take turns playing the various parts.
Pause and give each character their lines or your paraphrases of them (in your own words) – and urge them to say those lines with feeling. Help them get a sense of what the Shepherds must have felt in those moments – 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:
”There were sheepherders 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!”
(adapted from The Message, Luke 2:8-20)
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. One idea for focusing on THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SHEPHERDS BY THE ANGEL is to make angel-shaped cookies with cut-outs. After these are baked, let the kids decorate them and enjoy them for dessert.
- Songs to Play or Sing – Some of the songs that relate to this week’s Advent theme of Mary and Joseph include While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night; Silent Night (i.e., “Shepherds Quake at the Sight!”); Hark, the Herald Angels Sing; and Go, Tell It on the Mountain.
- An Activity for Younger Children – At the start or end of your Family Advent Experience, play a game of “searching for the SHEPHERDS”. Before the night starts and while the kids are out of the room, hide the little 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.
- An Activity for Pre-Teens & Teens – Ask Up! – Take time to ask them Questions that relate to the theme of ANNOUNCING JESUS. 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 one of the most surprising announcements you have ever heard or made? How do you think the Shepherds felt when an angel showed up while they “at work”? Why do you think God chose “shepherds” to make this announcement to first? Why not town leaders, or priests, or someone else? What are ways we can “announce Jesus” to our world today?
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 Angel Announcement and the Shepherds. Thank you that of all the people in the world you could have made this announcement to first, you chose ordinary people, the Shepherds. This reminds us of the fact that the Lord is Our Shepherd as we read in Psalm 23 and that you watch over us. Also, it lets us know that this announcement about Jesus coming to earth was not just for the rich and powerful and religious, but for “all people.” We welcome Jesus to come here now, to live in our hearts and home and to live through our family.
In Jesus Name.
NOTE: Give us feedback on how it went or if you have any questions. Looking forward to sharing our Advent #4 Lesson on Joy next Monday.
Read more blog posts like this one from Robert & Pamela Crosby – Teaming Life at teaming life.com.