Jacob Lawrence, Christmas in Harlem, 1937.
During the Advent season leading up to Christmas, Incarnation families are gathering together at home, or in another cozy spot, for a relaxed time of prayer and Advent wonder. Here’s this week’s prophecy:
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephratha, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel. Micah 5:2
Just like we did at Easter, take a look at the globe—or at Google Earth, which is amazing—to see where Jesus lived.
Find Nazareth: where Gabriel visited Mary; Mary and Joseph’s hometown; where Jesus grew up.
Find Jerusalem, the capital, where Jesus died and rose again.
Find Bethlehem. See how Bethlehem’s kind of a suburb town outside Jerusalem—not a major place! Why did God choose it?
Looking into this geography, even for the youngest family members, conveys that Jesus lived in a real place, at a real time in history.
(If kids are into it: Google Earth your own house, and our church; look through all the location tags in our Instagram stories Advent highlight —which you can do even without an Instagram account. Kids in the 6-9 age range are especially taken with the idea of global community, and it’s really cool to see Advent anticipation cover the earth.)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Where were you born? What do you consider your hometown? What do you love about South Arlington, or your current neighborhood?
Prayer Walk for all people—including children
Everyone at Incarnation is invited to prayer walk before Sunday’s service in their own neighborhood; please read Amy’s lovely post with ideas about what to look for and pray for as you walk. Like most of our Incarnation events, kids can absolutely be part of it!
You might choose a prompt, or ask kids to keep an eye out for something, depending on age, to help them participate more fully:
Christmas lights. Enjoy noticing them, and pray (or sing): “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!”
Notice any stars in Christmas decorations.
Think about Bethlehem—how does God use small things to accomplish his purposes? Notice small things.
Speaking of: let the youngest child take the lead in which direction you walk. Or,
At each corner, take turns, youngest to oldest, deciding whether to walk straight, turn left, or turn right.
You might incorporate your neighborhood walk into the Family Prayer liturgy (below), beginning or ending by lighting the Advent wreath back at home.
If all you can do is take a walk and pray on your own while the kids run ahead—Godspeed!
Upon returning home, ask kids what they noticed.
Advent Family Prayer for December 13
Opening sentence & lighting the Advent wreath:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3
Our King and Savior now draws near*:
O come, let us adore him.
Light Advent candles, and sing:
Light one candle for hope.
One bright candle for hope.
Christ brings hope to every heart;
He comes, he comes.
Light one candle for peace.
One bright candle for peace.
Christ brings peace to every heart;
He comes, he comes.
Light one candle for joy.
One bright candle for joy.
Christ brings joy to every heart;
He comes, he comes.
A reading from the prophet Micah:
“But you, O Bethlehem of Ephratha, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel.” Micah 5:2
Reflect as you’d like. (Discuss; reflect using art; color or copy the prophecy; listen to a song. Notice another name for Jesus: Ruler. Notice the small-ness of Bethlehem.)
Prayer. Pray together, including any of these options:
Song or canticle
Prayers of the people: take turns by passing a cross or similar around the family circle. If anyone prefers to pray silently, take a moment, then pass to the next person!
Open prayer time—for ourselves and others, including our neighbors, and our country and ministry of the week: Canada, NextGen Initiative.
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect of the Day
O Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.