Celebrate the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace of Advent
Our Advent journey ends at the manger of the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace. In this last week before the blessed event we search our hearts and pray for peace. Our journey asks us to think of all of the places in our lives, our families, our congregations, our communities and in our world where we truly need the Prince of Peace.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Read the book Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki
This is the story of the forest animals who find Santa Claus just a short time before Christmas out in the forest asleep under a tree. They raise a concern that there will not be any Christmas this year. Santa Claus assures them that there will always be a Christmas because Christmas has nothing to do with him. The confused animals listen as Santa Claus tells them his favorite story. The story that Santa Claus tells is the story of the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem. He tells the animals that love is the gift that God gave us on that first Christmas and that God's love is still far better than any presents that Santa Claus could ever bring even today. The animals return to help Santa Claus get ready for Christmas. Santa Claus decides at the end of the book that he had the best time of all because he remembered that the best present ever was Christmas itself.
Spend time with the children talking about Santa Claus's favorite story. Talk about how Santa Claus shared his favorite story with the animals. You can also bring into the discussion the fact that Santa Claus would be delivering gifts to the children because it is good to give and share with others. Talk also about how the animals gave by helping Santa Claus get ready for the giving of Christmas.
Read the book The Tale of Three Trees, a Traditional Folktale retold by Angela Elwell Hunt
This is the story of three trees growing together on a hill. Each of the three trees has its own idea about what they want to be when they are grown and ready to be cut and used. Each tree in its turn is used to create a manger, a small boat, and a cross. In the end all three of the trees find peace in the knowledge that they have accomplished what they felt they wanted to be. After all they became a part of the life of the baby, the teacher, and the Savior.
As each tree grew it aspired to be something special. In the end how did what each tree aspired to become relate to what they were eventually used to create? How do you feel about this story and the tale of the three trees? Can you relate to the way the trees felt as you yourself wait for the birth of the Savior?
The Peaceful World
Objective: To give the children the ability to use art to recreate pictures of their own relating to the peace that comes to use at Christmas.
Materials: a copy of the print The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks, large sheets of white paper, old magazines, newspapers, and anything else with words or pictures, glue, and scissors.
- Discuss the print The Peaceable Kingdom with your class pointing out the various ideas of peace pictured in the print. Talk with the children about why they think that The Peaceable Kingdom is a good title for this print.
- Explain that Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. Read Isaiah 9:6 to the class.
- Have the children write Prince of Peace in the center of their paper.
- Create a collage of symbols of peace from their world and time by using pictures from the magazines and papers. They may also choose to use words that tell about peace.
- Display the collages where everyone can see these expressions of peace in the lives of your children.
Objective: to create a hanging expression of peace for your class to share with those who visit or share your building with you.
Materials: one plastic or metal clothes hanger per child, yarn, crayons or markers, scissors, glue, and paper punch.
- Cut out 2 doves for each child or fold origami doves with older children.
- Color 2 stained glass windows of the Christ Child and glue them together.
- Tie a string to each dove and tie them to the ends of the clothes hanger.
- Tie a string to the stained glass window and tie it between the doves.
- Hang your mobiles where everyone who shares your building can enjoy your children's expressions of peace.
Chapel Offering Project
Look for a project where your December Chapel Offering might go that will help children in the world whose lives are not lived in peace but fear each day. Some places where children need peace in their young lives might include the children in the Lutheran Schools in Palestine, children's hospitals that care for terminally ill patients, or the children suffering from the AIDs crisis in Africa. The Division for Global Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a good source for this type of outreach by your school. You'll find them at www.elca.org/globalmission.
Make some phone calls and find and agency that cares for abused women and children. Ask your children to collect and decorate a Tree of Peace with mittens, hats and scarves to share with women and children living in poverty or living with abuse. These gifts will bring hope and peace to the lives of these folks.
Prince of Peace
Objective: that each child will create their own reminder of the Prince of Peace.
Materials: 1 white sock per child, fiberfill stuffing, ribbon, markers (permanent works best), 1 12" X 12" square of fabric per child, 1 large safety pin, and brown yarn.
- Have the children stuff the sock from toe to heel and tie a piece of ribbon around the sock just below the heel. Cut off the excess sock.
- Tie a piece of ribbon around the sock about one third of the way down from the toe. This makes the head.
- Cut yarn into short pieces and glue them on for the baby's hair.
- Draw on eyes, nose and mouth.
- Lay the baby on the square of cloth. Pull up the bottom corner and then wrap the two sides around to the front and pin.
- Have the children use their babies to retell the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Create a Peace wall in your classroom. Collect various sized boxes and cover them with plain colored paper. Have the children cut out pictures of people from around the world and glue them to the boxes. Use them as building blocks of peace in your classroom by creating a wall of people who the Prince of Peace came to earth to save. Save three boxes to use on the top of your wall. Print the 1 word from PRINCE OF PEACE on each of the three boxes and place them on the top of your wall.
Christmas Peace Poles
Talk to your children about how they will be God's peacemakers in the future. Talk about how it will one day be their responsibility to bring and keep peace in God's world. Create with your class peace poles to help them remember what God wants them to do. Use paper covered carpet roles. Christmas tree stands work great to keep them upright. Let the children decorate the poles with symbols and words of peace. Remember to encourage them to use Christmas peace words. This should be a cooperative activity. The group should also experience the peaceful process of working and making decisions with one another. Use the poles and their symbols as group discussion starters.
Create with your class a peace quilt. Use muslin squares sized according to the number of children in your class. You can use puffy paints, fabric crayons or permanent markers. Encourage the children to express their feelings about peace in their peace square. Create a center piece that puts emphasis on the Christ Child. Find a parent to sew the quilt together. You can also use construction paper and tie it together with ribbon or yarn. Display your quilt of peace where all can see it and share its message. If it is a cloth quilt, it could be donated to a local hospital or children's home. It could also be a gift to a child who may be ill from your school or congregation.