‘Tis the season for Advent prayer services! Most Catholic schools and parish religious education programs take the opportunity to gather students together in prayer in special ways during Advent. The following Advent prayer service ideas and tips are brought to you by various catechetical leaders from across the country. I think you’ll find their tips to be very helpful. Please add your best idea or tip in the comments below!
“Tap into the kids’ genuine excitement, hope and light. These are three words that describe Advent perfectly, so take a step back and recognize the living examples of these Advent adjectives!”
Elizabeth Stowe Fennell, Stay at Home Mother, Former Middle School Religion Teacher and Second Grade Teacher
“A great activity for Advent is to learn about and put together a Jesse Tree. The Jesse tree uses Old and New Testament symbols to depict the genealogy of Christ. The following website has good reflections with Scripture passages and ornaments that can be easily downloaded: www.eriercd.org/jessetree.htm.”
Linda Jensen, DRE, St. Pius X Catholic Church, Granger, IN
“As Advent has traditionally been understood as a Lent-in-miniature, many Lenten prayer services can easily be adapted to Advent with a simple alteration of a few words here and there to change the focus from anticipation of the Triduum to anticipation of the coming Messiah. I have found that in the midst of the excesses of the season, this perspective can help students realize the spiritual gifts available to them at this time of year.”
Peter E. Kennedy, A.C.D., M.A., Administrator of Adult Faith Formation, Archdiocese of Omaha
“Bringing light to the world. A closing/sending forth element of an Advent prayer service we used in the past was to start in darkness. Each participant has a votive candle and a strike anywhere match. Have a beginning part of a prayer that describes themes of darkness and waiting for the coming of the Lord. Light a community candle (my preference was the 3-wick round “Trinity” candle). The first person shares how they will be light for the world during this time of waiting. He or she lights the candle with a match after sharing and the next person shares. Go around the room until everyone has shared. The closing part of the prayer describes God the Father bringing light to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ and what that looked like and our need to be light for the world. (Note: a variation of this was done using a glass cube cross that stood about 4 feet tall. The cubes had shelves on the back where votives could be placed. Participants would come forward and share or in silence and place their votive. By the end of the prayer, the cross and the room would be lit up.)”
Tauno Latvala, Director of CYO Athletics, Archdiocese of Seattle
“Our students participate in Advent by helping prepare a comfortable place for Jesus to rest. A wooden manger is kept in the hallway and for each good deed they do during the season they put hay in the manger. This could be made part of an advent service by having students bring hay up to the manger one person at a time while other students take turn reading affirmations recognizing the simple beauty around us–thereby helping keep us “awake” to see the coming of Christ.”
Allison Welch, High School Theology Teacher, Visit her site at www.allisonwelch.com
What about you? What ideas and tips do you have to share with the rest of us? Post them in the comments below!