Advent - Christmas
Celebrating Advent
With Children
by Francoise Darcy-Berube
& Jean-Paul Berube
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Praying for the World During Advent
Prepare an Advent wreath with pine branches or fir. Find a large ball or small balloon that can fit in the middle. Paint it blue. When it is dry, use bright colours to paint a simple map of the world on it.
You might hang it over the table from a lamp or the ceiling. Or you might put it in the middle of the wreath on a small plate so it does not roll. If you prefer, make a poster or place a globe close to the table.
Fix the four candles around the wreath. Set the wreath in the middle of the table. Whenever your family gathers for dinner, light the candle. (Light one candle the first week of Advent, two candles the second week, and so on.)
Then pray:
Dear God, you sent us your Son, Jesus,
to tell us about your love.
You invite us to work with him
for justice, reconciliation and peace
on our beautiful planet Earth.
We pray today especially forů
(Mention here one country or part of the world you want to pray for and say why.)
Please bless this food we are about to share
and help us do our part
to make a better world for all.
The first week, you might read with your family the Gospel of Saint Luke, chapter 1, verses 26 to 56. Then place Mary and Joseph in the crib and together make up a prayer to them.
The second week, put the three kings on their way to the crib (but not in it yet), and fix the star over the crib. Share your thoughts about how God sends us people in our life to guide us to Jesus, like he sent the star to the kings.
The third week, bring the kings closer to the crib and sing together O Come, O Come, Emmanuel or another Advent hymn. Now put the shepherds on their way to the crib.
Then plan with your family a special way of completing the crib on Christmas Eve. For instance, you might gather around the crib. Read together the Nativity story in Luke's Gospel, chapter 1, verses 1 to 21. Share the roles: One person is the narrator, others are the shepherds and the angels. You could sing Gloria in Excelsis Deo or Glory to God in the Highest during the reading.
At the right time, the youngest child brings the baby Jesus while another one brings a large, lit Christmas candle. Others place the shepherds and three kings around the crib. At the end of the reading, the candle-holder lifts the candle and says, "Lord Jesus, we believe you are the Light of the world!" All repeat the acclamation.
After a moment of silent prayer, you might end the ritual with a favorite Christmas carol and then wish one another a Merry Christmas.
Francoise Darcy-Berube is an internationally recognized catechist who has taught catechesis to children and formed catechists in Canada, the United States, France and Belgium. She is a graduate of the Sorbonne, Institut Catholique de Paris, Lumen Vitae (Brussels), Université de Montreal and the University of Ottawa. With her husband, Jean-Paul Berube, she began publishing sacramental preparation programs for children and their families in 1974. They have continued to write and work in this area ever since, in both French and English.
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