“Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise.”
During Advent, the Church remembers Israel’s desire for liberation from bondage, prepares to receive the gift of the Christ child, and hopes for the second coming of Christ when all manner of things shall be made well. The Song of Mary, or the Magnificat, is a response to the news that she will bear the one who will be called “Emmanuel” or God with us. It is the way that Mary shares with her relative Elizabeth what God is doing in this child. Mary expresses faith that the promise of the baby Jesus is God’s work of liberation for the people. The gift of this child is a demonstration of God’s faithfulness to God’s promises. What kind of expectations does Mary have for a savior? What kind of expectations do all of the people of Israel have? Does Jesus fulfill them? What kind of Savior is Jesus?
(1.) Children will be able to describe the season of Advent as a time of waiting, preparing, and hoping.
(2.) Students will reflect on Mary’s and all of Israel’s own waiting, preparing, and hoping for a Messiah.
Gather: This week, as your students gather, you may want to tell them that the Church seasons are changing and in one week the Church will begin Advent celebrations. The large felt liturgical calendar in the commons is one way that you could show them that the transition is about to happen. Explain that Advent begins on December 1 and is the start of the Christian New Year when we begin preparing to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Preparation means getting our hearts ready and making room for the words of a story to work on us and in our lives.
Hear the Word: Read the words from Mary’s song, the Magnificat, in Luke 1: 46-55. In order to provide context for your students, you may want to tell some of the details of the surrounding story. You can also read the story “An Angel Appears to Mary” from the Children of God Storybook Bible.
Respond to the Word:
(1.) “This is taking so long!”: Conversation about Waiting: Reflect with your students on what it would have been like for the people of Israel to desire a savior? What where their lives like? How did they think a savior would help? Ask students to share an example of something they have waited for (Maybe a birthday, or a baby brother/sister). What was it like to wait? How long did you wait? Were they excited or worried that the thing they were expecting would never happen. Use this conversation to explain that the people of Israel had been praying for God to do something big in the world for a long time. Invite students to think about all of the things that are not right in our world. What do we want God to change? What do we want God to make better? Are we waiting for God to do something? Write a prayer about one thing that you want God to do to make our world better.
(2.) Responding with Art: For each student, print out a copy of Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting, Annunciation. Explain that the annunciation is when the angel came to Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Jesus. Ask students to identify visual cues in the painting. Where is Mary and what is her life like? Is she afraid, intimidated, scared, curious? What do you think Mary’s experience of the Angel’s news was? Talk about the words of Mary’s song and then respond artistically with crayons, or markers. What do you think it looked like when the angel brought the news to Mary?
Bonus: you can show your students other images of the annunciation and ask them to compare and contrast with Ossawa’s version (perhaps, Botticelli’s Annunciation).
(3.) Working with the BCP/Making an Advent Prayer Journal: Since Advent is a time of preparation, spend time making prayer journals. Your students can copy the words to the Magnificat and the Lord’s prayer from the BCP. Encourage students to pray with their prayer book every night during Advent and write one thing about Jesus that is one their mind (it can even be a question: Why did Jesus come as a baby?).
- Learning to chant the Magnificat: If you are musically inclined, chant the Magnificat for your students, you can find it on S 242 in the 1982 Hymnal. Teach them how to follow the words and chant Mary’s song themselves. Practice chanting the song together. If you would like, you can also show them where to find the Magnifcat in the BCP (Canticle 15 on page 91) or in the Bible (the Luke text above).
- O Come, O Come Emmanuel: O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a common Advent hymn. Our Sunday School will sing it during the entire Advent Season. Teach students the words and ask them to reflect on what each of the stanzas says about Christ.
(5.) Mary Dolls: Use the clothes pins in the Christian Education supply closet to make Mary dolls. Use tissue paper, fabric, or ribbons. After making the dolls, talk about what it would be like to be Mary. Use I Wonder statements to wonder together about what was so important about Mary’s task. I wonder why God used Mary. I wonder if that says something important about God.
(6.) Act it Out: Invite your students to act out the story as they heard it in groups of two. Get back together in a larger group and ask what they would say about this experience if they were Mary. What would they tell a visiting relative about the baby that is coming?
(7.) The Waiting Game (from an older post by Wren): The teacher assigns a number to each corner of the room, so there is corner number one, corner number two, etc. The children divide up and stand at a chosen corner. One child is chosen to be “it” and stands in the center of the room with their eyes closed. When “it” yells, “Go!” the other children proceed to walk about the perimeter of the room moving from corner to corner. When “it” yells, “Stop!” the children must go to the nearest corner and wait. While keeping their eyes closed the child in the center of the room will call out one corner number. The children standing in that corner are then out of the game for that round. This procedure continues until there is only one child remaining. That child will then become the next “it” and play continues with another round.
Close in Prayer