Lately, I’ve seen a variety of lovely ideas online for helping children and families to get involved with the Advent season. Drawing on some of the ideas I’ve seen, I’ve come up with a little bag of items that will take children through some of the main Advent themes. Putting the bags together doesn’t take all that long when you have everything you need and it’s quite therapeutic to spend a little time painting.
To assemble each bag, you’ll need: a prayer sheet (text at bottom of this post), a felt or paper star, a felt or paper heart, a pipe cleaner, a Baby Jesus stone, a tea light candle, a small drawstring bag (I used purple bags to reflect the liturgical season), and a pair of scissors.
To make a Baby Jesus stone, you’ll need: a river stone (large enough to paint on, small enough to fit in your bags), small paintbrush, white paint (acrylic works well), brown paint, black paint pen or thick black Sharpie, Mod Podge or vanish (optional).
First, paint a large white oval on top of your river stone. After the paint has dried, paint a brown circle at the wider end of the oval. This will be Jesus’ face. Next, use the black paint pen or Sharpie to draw Jesus’ body. Depending on the shape of the stone, I generally draw an oval or egg shape near the edges of my original white oval, being sure to include the face. After that, add a couple of lines diagonally across the oval to indicate the layers of fabric swaddling Jesus’ body, as well as a third line angled in the opposite direction near Jesus’ face. When the brown paint is dry, draw eyes and a mouth on the circle. (Straight lines for the eyes will make Jesus look like he’s sleeping.) If you wish, once the stone is completely dry, use Mod Podge or varnish to help preserve the paint from little fingers.
Next, cut a star and a heart out of paper or felt. I used pink for the heart and white for the star, but you can use any colors you have available. Twist the pipe cleaner into a shape small enough to fit in the bag.
Copy and paste the prayer sheet information at the bottom of this post into a word processing document, then print. Cut away the excess paper.
Put a Baby Jesus stone, heart, star, pipe cleaner, tea light candle, and prayer sheet in each bag. When you’ve made as many as you need, pass them out to your Sunday school class, nieces and nephews, or other children in your life. The Baby Jesus stones can also be a fun painting activity for young school-age children.
Advent Prayer Bags
Between now and Christmas Day, help your child(ren) think about the themes of Advent by asking them the following questions and having your child interact with the items in this bag. Be sure to pray together about each theme before moving to the next one.
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
What do you hope for?
Light the tea candle and ask God to bring God’s light and hope to people who are finding life hard.
Who do you love?
Hold the heart and say thank you to God for all the people you love and who love you.
What brings you joy?
Bend the pipe cleaner into a symbol for something that makes you happy. Ask God to help those who are sad to feel God’s joy.
The wise men followed the star to search for Jesus. Hold the star and pray for all those who are searching for peace in a troubled world.
Make a special bed for your baby Jesus stone to lie in and light your candle again. Thank God for sending Jesus to be a light in the darkness and trouble of the world. Pray that you will be a light in the darkness too.
This post first appeared at Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry.