This month's guide has been specially designed to help celebrate a busy Advent! It's a "Family Fun Night."
Early in the season of Advent, gather families together for a “Family Fun Night.” The evening should be at an appropriate time for families to gather with young children – 5:30-7:00 p.m., or 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
The focus of the evening is celebrating Advent as a family and could be put together in several ways. One idea is to have families move from station to station, doing crafts, learning songs or reading stories. (Ideas can be taken from the Advent Calendar in the December issue of Take Out magazine.)
6:00 p.m. Opening Prayer (Gather families in the main Church or social hall and start off the evening in prayer.)
Song: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Vs 1 & 2)
Advent Wreath Prayer
Leader: Let us Pray.
All: In the midst of preparations,
the only time to watch is now.
And so we light the (first/second) candle
and in its glow we enter a prayer
which readies us for the amazing mystery
of a birth cry.
In the midst of preparations
the only time to watch is now.
Reflection: Waiting is something many of us do not do well. And waiting patiently is pretty much out of the question. We automatically choose the shortest line in the grocery store and become frustrated when the line does not move as quickly as another we have chosen.
The wait for Christmas may be one of the most difficult we face each year. Advent challenges us, however, to wait patiently – to wait together as a family – to play together and prayer together and listen for God’s voice who speaks only when we are quiet enough to hear.
During these busy days of holiday preparation, now is the time to wait. For we wait with the hopeful understanding that our God, for whom we wait, has come.
Song: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Vs 3 & 4)
Overview of the night’s events
Leader: So let us go now, together with our sisters and brothers,
moms and dads,
and venture forth into active waiting.
All: We wait in joyful for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Divide families equally and send some to each station. Rotate after 10-15 minutes at each station.
Craft Station: Make an Advent Chain
In a classroom or larger gathering space, encourage families to sit at tables and make an Advent Chain.
Cut one strip of purple construction paper for each day of Advent. Use a pink strip for the third Sunday of Advent and a white strip for Christmas. Some families like to write something special on each strip such as “Call Grandma today.” “Do something nice for someone.” “Say a Hail Mary for someone who is sick.” “Read a book about a saint.” Let your kids brainstorm other things to write. Then use paste to loop the strips into a chain. Each morning detach one link and read the message as your wait for Christmas.
Read an appropriate story from a children’s book or watch a short Veggie Tales movie related to Christmas and Advent. Some book ideas: The Christmas Eve Storyteller by Edward Hays or The Wonder of Christmas by Jeanne Conte.
Advent Wreath Station
Gather families around the large Advent wreath in the main Church for this station. Your or a volunteer can share some information about the origins of the Advent wreath. Give each child a piece of evergreen to take home.
The origins of the Advent wreath are found in the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light.
Christians kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th century Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany the use of the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian world.
Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose, but four white candles or four violet candles can also be used. Each day at home, the candles are lighted, perhaps before the evening meal-- one candle the first week, and then another each succeeding week until December 25th. A short prayer may accompany the lighting.
Other stations can be added to fit your parish size and timeframe of this event. Be sure to give families a copy of Take Out, the mini-magazine from Our Sunday Visitor before they leave!
One idea for an easy Advent snack is to buy several packages of plain, star-shaped sugar cookies. Set them out on a long serving table with blue, silver and violet sprinkles and white frosting. Kids can decorate their own cookies before eating them. Offer some coffee for adults (they will be grateful) and juice for the kids and the snack station is complete!
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