6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. (Luke 2.6)
The first Sunday of Advent, my church has interactive prayer stations, an opportunity to engage, reflect, and meditate on this period of expectation, waiting, and preparation for the birth of Christ.
Below are ideas for interactive prayer stations focusing on centering our hearts on minds on the meaning of Christmas. The interactive prayer stations are meant to be intergenerational. There are also stations designed for ages 2-4. (For more specific instructions on layout, purpose, design, and more ideas, you can view previous posts tagged under “Interactive Prayer Stations.”) You can view pics here.
Interactive Prayer Station #1: Notice Advent Trimmings
Materials: Branches, Christmas Lights, Glass Ornaments, Basket, Strips of Paper, Markers, Advent Painting
In this season filled with significant and gaudy trimmings, presents and decorations, how might all of these things remind you of God’s decorative presence in your life? How may God want to trim your life this season?
If you’d like, in a few words, write this on the paper and place it in the ornament to trim the church tree or yours at home.
Briefly allow this to be part of you now . . . invite God to enrich your faith journey.
Interactive Prayer Station #2: Listen for Advent Sounds
Materials: Musical Scores, Table
Which of these names for Jesus are most significant to you in this season and why?
Emmanuel, Dayspring, New born king, Light, Gift, King of kings, Lamb, Messiah, Prince of Peace, Rose, Savior, the Child, Baby, Brother
You may wish to pray to invite the reality of Jesus to be present with you as you hear the many carols of the season, wherever you experience them.
reflect on the significance of this now . . . invite God to broaden your faith journey.
Interactive Prayer Station #3: Watch Advent Lights
Materials: Picture of Balloons, Tealight Candles, Matches, Table
Where will I find hope, offer hope,
There are few things more fragile than an embryo of hope
given its chance of life only by those who say ‘yes’ to its promise
like the prophets who said yes to God’s urging
Mary who said yes to an angel
and Joseph who said yes to his Mary
like the people of faith through all of time who have said yes to the promise of love
and as we sit by the side of our wall
– whatever that wall might be –
surrounded by the rubble and rubbish of broken dreams and lives
what faith does it take to imagine an embryo of hope being brought to life here?
what ‘yes’ are you able to say
for it be born in our world?
Feel free to light a candle, set it on a balloon as a sign of the hope you desire to offer another this season – picture how that light of hope will be noticed by the other.
Take time to let this settle into you now . . . invite God to enhance your faith journey.
Interactive Prayer Stations for Toddlers:
Activity one: There were many people at the birth of Jesus Christ. Look through the books and hear the story through different eyes.
Materials: A variety of Children’s Books on the birth of Christ, such as, Bright Christmas : An Angel Remembers by Andrew Clements and Kate Kiesler, The Stone: A Persian Legend of the Magi by Dianne Hofmeyr, The Greatest Shepherd of All: A Really Woolly Christmas Story by Holly Gerth and Rosemary Harris, The Shepherd’s Christmas Story by Dandi Daley Mackall and Dominic Catalano, Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wangerin, Spirit Child: A Story of the Nativity (Aztec) by J Bierhorst and B Cooney
Activity two: Nativity is about the birth of Jesus. Who was at the birth of Jesus? What happened? Use the costumes to interact with the story. Imagine yourself as an animal in the barn, a wise person, an animal, or an angel. How did they feel? What did they see?
Materials: Nativity Backdrop, a Manger, Dolls (for Jesus), Costumes (animals, angels, shepherds, wise people)
Activity three: Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time when we wait for Christmas when Jesus was born. Children all over the world count down the 24 days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. Make an Advent Calendar: 1) Take a tree bubble wrap; 2) Write 1 through 24 on each circle sticker; 3) Stick a circle sticker in order on each bubble; 4) Hang it in your house and each day pop a bubble.
Materials: Bubble wrap cut in the shape of a tree, Circle stickers, Markers