Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Advent Devotionals with Preschoolers

One of my favorite yearly re-reads about advent is
(that's a link to their article on preparing children for Advent)

Here's some of what they say about language to use with children regarding Advent (from the article):
The Message
We can tell our children about Isaiah, the prophet.  We can tell them that God has wanted to be the one who would lead and take care of his people.   But they rebelled against God, and demanded kings, just like all the peoples around them had.  So, God let them have kings.  As it turned out, there was one bad king after another.  And God sent prophets to the people and the kings to remind them of the agreement - the "covenant" - God made with them:  I'll be your God and you be my people. 

Now the way the people made someone a king was to pour a bit of oil on their head.  The one who was "anointed" this way with oil became the king.  Well, the prophets began to tell the people that God would send them "an anointed one" (the word they use to say "anointed one" in Hebrew is "Messiah.")  In fact, they said that this Messiah would be called "Emmanuel", which in Hebrew means, "God is with us." 

So, the message of the prophets was about a promise - that God would save his people from all that they were suffering.  The prophets use such wonderful images to tell the people that they could expect and hope for a day when "every tear would be wiped away."  It would be a day of great peace - "the lion would lie down with the lamb" and the people will beat their spears into hooks to prune trees with.  And, the most unbelievable promise of all:  "death will be no more."

We all know now that what God was preparing his people for was the coming of Jesus, the Christ (Christos in Greek means "the anointed one.") 

Then, of course, we can tell them about Zachary and Elizabeth and about Joseph and Mary.  We can tell them the story from Luke's gospel first.  What is so surprising about the story is that he comes, not like a king, but in great simplicity and poverty.  Our God is truly with us, as a little baby.  He knows what is like to be a child - everything.

We can tell this story to our children in so many ways.  We can let them tell us what it means to them. Through all this conversation, the message will come through.  During these weeks of Advent, we want to look forward to celebrating his coming to live our life and to set us free - free from our sins and free from death itself.

We want to open up Advent for them, so that they can get ready for - look forward to - Christmas in a different way.  We want to introduce them to faith-filled meanings for light/darkness, hunger/thirsts, and all the other images of Isaiah.  We want them to really know the meaning of "the Christmas story."

After I read this section I knew immediately that I would want to pick out some sections from our Jesus Storybook Bible  to read.

Those are the sections that we read during the nights leading up to Advent.  I used some of the language from the Creightononline article and then what we gleaned from the storybook Bible, and I love how simply, clearly and beautifully the message of Advent was presented.  Perfect level of understanding for preschoolers/young elementary age kiddos--and Mamas, too!
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