December 1st, 2013 (see other dates)
First Sunday of Advent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1During Advent, what can you do to prepare for the coming of Jesus into your life today, and at the end of time? How can you be a creative peacemaker at home, at school, and in the world?
Reading 1 Isaiah 2:1-5
Reading 1 ReflectionAs we enter into Advent, Isaiah greets us with a promise of universal peace. He foresees a time when all nations will learn God's ways. They will no longer make weapons or train for war. They will "walk in the light of the Lord." When Isaiah wrote his message of hope, Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, were under the threat of attack by its enemies. Yet the prophet clung to his faith that God would come to save God's people.
We know that God has already come to save us through Jesus Christ. We know that he is with us now. And we believe that Jesus Christ will come again at the end of the world. This is what gives us hope.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2There is an old Gospel song that goes, "One day at a time, Lord Jesus, that's all I'm asking of you." And one day at a time is the gift we are given when we rise from sleep each day! How are you planning to spend this time of Advent?in a "spiritual sleep" (just waiting until Christmas . . . ) or "awake" and ready to share your gifts (the spiritual gifts of faith, hope, and love) with others? Think of one thing to do each day that will keep you "awake" to God and neighbor. Ask Jesus to help you do it. Then pray together:
"Lord, do not allow us to sleep our way through Advent. Wake us up to the good you want us to do each day. Amen."
Reading 2 Romans 13:11-14
Reading 2 ReflectionWhat else can we do to prepare for Christ's final coming in glory? "Awake from sleep," Paul says, and "put on the armor of light." He means that we should practice love for our neighbors and avoid deeds of darkness (sin). He warns us that we may not have as much time as we think, because the day (the day when Jesus will return) draws near!
Discussion Questions for GospelSometimes it is hard for us to believe that what we do today matters for tomorrow and, really, for all eternity. Can you think of some examples of the way your actions today will matter for tomorrow and forever? How does what you do today help prepare you and the world for the coming of Christ?
Using our gift of time well is an Advent virtue, an Advent strength. In report cards from the 1950's, a list of strengths that each child was to develop was listed. If there was a problem with a particular one, it was checked by the teacher to bring it to the parent's attention. Some of the strengths were: "Keeps desk and papers neat; shows courteous attention to teacher and students; is reverent during prayers." One we can note today is: "Keeps profitably busy." (Today we might say, "Works independently.") However, anyone can "keep busy." We Advent Christians must "keep PROFITABLY busy." Our busy-ness must count for something, must do good. How will you keep profitably busy during this Advent season?
Gospel Matthew 24: 37-44
Gospel ReflectionIn today's gospel, we are asked to live in the present with an eye toward the future. We are not to be totally absorbed by the usual activities of life. We are to remain open to the coming of the Lord, and be prepared. Here Jesus compares himself to a thief who breaks in when no one is looking! Jesus wants us to be prepared so that we can welcome him, not as a thief, but as our long-awaited Savior!
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Color an Advent WreathGather the children together, and explain that today we begin the season of Advent. Point out that this is the time of year when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. There are less hours of daylight. But it is at this darkest time of the year that we need the light the most! The Advent wreath helps us to remember that Jesus is our Light. Jesus is always with us!
Using the reproducible master, explain that each candle on the Advent wreath stands for one of the weeks of Advent. Ask the children to color the first candle in the Advent wreath purple. Then have them color in the flame for the first candle only. Tell them to color the other candles (the second candle should be purple, the third pink, and the last should be purple), but not the flames. The flames should be filled in on the corresponding Sunday of Advent. Invite the children to take their Advent wreaths home. Encourage them to keep the wreath in a special place and color the flames for the following Sundays at home.
Stay Awake!Explain that in today's gospel Jesus says, "Stay awake!" (You might want to write this quote on the board.) Staying awake means more than just keeping our eyes open. It means, "Be ready." Explain that we can get ready by praying and helping others. Invite the children to think of things we can do while we are "staying awake" and waiting for Jesus during Advent. (Write responses on the board. Responses might be "Getting up when mom or dad calls," "Taking turns in the bathroom," "Playing fairly with my friends," etc.) Invite the children to look at the list, and choose one or two things they will remember to do this week.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Here Comes the Sun!In today's reading from Romans, we are called upon to expect "the day of the Lord."
What makes the day bright is the sun. For that reason, Jesus was often referred to as "the Sun of Justice" by the early Christians. For the pagans, the sun in the sky was a god. For the early Christians, it was a powerful reminder of the presence of Jesus, filling our world with warmth and light.
On a separate piece of paper, draw four suns?each one a circle with rays around it. Number each sun for a week of Advent: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4. In each sun, write one thing you will do that week to help you prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus, or one thing you will do that week to bring Jesus to someone else through an act of kindness and love. After you have carried out your idea, color the sun yellow.
You may want to cut out the four suns and hang them from a clothes hanger to make a mobile to hang at home. Make a square sign (or another sun) to hang also. Write on it, "Come, Sun of Justice!"
Bright Ideas for PeaceIsaiah has a vision of people turning their swords into plowshares and their spears into hooks for cutting off dead branches from trees. He imagines ways of turning weapons into useful tools. What bright ideas do you have for turning the following "weapons" into tools for peace?
The Weapon of Prejudice I would turn it into _____________ by:
*Suggestion: turn prejudice into hospitality by inviting students of various racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds to an "international potluck supper."
The Weapon of Revenge I would turn it into _______________ by:
*Suggestion: turn revenge into forgiveness by praying and persuading those who bear grudges to throw away their grudges and make peace.
Take time to consider Isaiah's theme of swords into plowshares. Then write your own Advent peace prayer.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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