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Christmas Countdown - Teaching Kids about Advent
Thursday, November 30, 2023 by Doreen Wennberg

Well, you made it through Thanksgiving, and now the busiest time of the year is upon us! However, in my neighborhood, some people had Christmas decorations displayed two weeks before Thanksgiving Day! It is hard to wait!

I love all things Christmas—from the music to the decorating of the tree, treats, Santa, and gifts. As they say, It’s the best time of the year!

But our families can run from event to event—without taking the time to pause and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas—Jesus, the reason for the season. Advent is such a time to do just that!

What is Advent

Many people have heard of Advent, but may not have observed it while growing up. Advent according to the dictionary, is the coming or arrival of the birth of Jesus Christ. While the word Advent is not mentioned in the Bible, it has been practiced around the world— in all denominations for centuries.

Many evangelical churches begin their services by reading Scripture and lighting the first candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The Scripture passages read relate to the incarnation of Christ and the prophets foretelling of His birth.

As Christian parents, we hope and pray to pass on the true meaning of Christmas to our kids and grandkids in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. We can do that with a family Advent time during December.

The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day are a time of preparation, celebration, and hopeful anticipation as we await the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This year Advent begins on Sunday, December 3rd, and ends on December 24th, and it offers many meaningful and teachable moments throughout the month-long wait to Christmas Day.

There are many different ways to countdown the days to Christmas. Retelling the story of the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world, adds to meaningful conversation and teachable moments about the Christian faith.

If it is your goal to help your kids learn and understand the truths of the first Christmas, keep it simple but repetitious. Reading parts of the story and introducing Christmas songs that tell the narrative reiterate the truths of Christ’s coming.

The Advent Wreath 

Traditionally, the Advent wreath is made out of evergreens which stay green—unlike other trees that lose their leaves and die. It is said evergreens are a sign of everlasting life, representing the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

The Shape

Since a circle has no beginning or end, the wreath represents our Eternal God Who has no beginning or end.

The Candles

There are five candles in different colors. Three are purple, one is pink (rose-colored), and one is white. The white one is the Christ candle. It’s lit on Christmas Day.

Making your wreath

Assembling an Advent wreath can be as simple as using what you already have. Whether you have an evergreen tree in your backyard, or you use a fake wreath. A green paper circle from construction paper or coloring a paper plate will do fine!

Once you decide on your wreath, check for candles.

A word on candles. Many families use real tapered with candle holders or pillar candles in their advent wreaths. I prefer pillar candles, but certainly, flameless candles can be used in place of real flame candles. In both cases, if you can not find the purple and rose color candles (they sell out fast), you can use all-white pillar candles and wrap 3 pillar candles in a strip of purple paper and one in pink. Since tapered candles may drip wax, I wouldn’t recommend it.

5-10 min Family Advent Devotion Time

Who gets to help light the candle, who gets to blow it out, and who remembers what this candle represents? Engaging even the youngest child to participate facilitates the learning process.

Candle Meaning & Lighting Order

First Sunday: The Purple Candle represents HOPE.

The prophets foretold the coming Christ and his birthplace.

Scripture Reading: (Choose a reader)

Micah 5:2But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Narrator: (Choose a reader) In the first week of Advent, we look toward the gift of HOPE we have through Christ. The prophets spoke of the one who would be born in Bethlehem. The people waited hundreds of years for the birth of Christ who would come through the line of David. We who follow Christ now wait for the HOPE of his return.

Light the Hope Candle.

Narrator: Read- As we light this candle, we remember the manger in Bethlehem when the light of the world, in the form of a baby, came into the world, who is our only HOPE.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving hope to the world through the gift of Jesus. Help us to wait with hopeful anticipation in these next four weeks as we prepare to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. ~Amen.

Second Sunday: The Purple Candle represents PEACE.

Scripture Reading:

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Narrator: (Choose a reader)

In the second week of Advent, we look toward the gift of PEACE that Jesus brings.

Light 2 Candles: Hope & PEACE.

Narrator: As we light the peace candle, we remember the Christ child who is called the Prince of Peace. He alone brings peace to our hearts and minds—even during difficult times.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the peace, Jesus brings into our lives when we call upon him. ~Amen.

Third Sunday: The Pink Candle represents JOY.

Scripture Reading:

Luke 2:10-12 “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”’

Narrator: (Choose a reader)

In the third week of Advent, we look toward the gift of JOY that came when Jesus was born on that night long ago.

Light 3 Candles: Hope, Peace, & JOY.

Narrator: As we light the JOY candle, we remember the great joy that came because the promised Savior had been born.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the joy we have because you sent your son Jesus to save all people from their sins. ~Amen.

Fourth Sunday: The Purple Candle represents LOVE.

Scripture Reading:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Narrator: (Choose a reader) 

In the fourth week of Advent, we look toward the gift of love that came from God the Father in sending Jesus.

Light 4 Candles: Hope, Peace, Joy & LOVE.

Narrator: As we light the LOVE candle, we remember that Jesus is God’s love in human form.

Prayer: Father, thank you for loving the world so much that you would send the gift of Jesus to save sinful people. ~Amen.

Christmas: The White Candle represents Christ.

This can be done on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Scripture Reading: 

John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Narrator: On this day, we celebrate the coming of Christ, the light of the world!

Light all candles: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love & CHRIST.

Narrator: As we light the CHRIST candle, we remember the light of Christ dispels the darkness of this world.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus who is the light of the world. We celebrate today that you made a way for all people to live eternally with you, by putting their faith in your son who is the way, the truth, and the life. We thank you for this indescribable gift of Love. ~In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

May the Hope, Peace, Joy & Love of Christ be especially real in your hearts this year!

Merry Christmas! 

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