|This photo is from my training, not our atrium, but it shows the items we used on the prayer table yesterday.|
Although this is the second week of Advent, it was our first week in the atrium during Advent. We start by gathering outside the atrium until all of our friends have arrived. Each child receives something to carry (the purple prayer cloth, the Bible, a candle-we had five today!- a picture of Mary, etc.) We line up and walk on the line silently to the prayer table. It takes a lot of effort for some of the children to remain silent and not to bump into the person in front of them. And, of course, they are not all silent nor do they all remain on the line! It is amazing how well they do process, however. Reminds me of the congregation walking up for Holy Communion.
After we set our items one by one on the prayer table (more waiting and practice in being patient) we talk about the items on the table. Today, in addition to talking about the color purple and the four weeks of waiting, we remembered what we are waiting for - the birth of Jesus which we celebrate at Christmas.
We also talked about special people who lived in the land of Israel long before Jesus was born. These people we call prophets. Prophets were special people that listened. They listened to God. One of these prophets was named Isaiah (which elicited an exclamation from one four year old about his friend at school named Isaiah!).
The children listened closely while I read from our new Bible, Isaiah 9:1. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. What were the people waiting for? A great light. We wondered what the great light could be. We talked about what it is like to be in the dark (scary!). We talked about the lights in our lives (night-lights, kitchen lights). We even remembered that Jesus said, "I am the light of the world."
We talked about how hard it is to wait. We talked about listening, like Isaiah. Just as we were finishing I encouraged the children to stop and listen by being silent (which sometimes I have to remind them means we aren't talking!). At our moment of silence we heard beautiful church bells from outside. We talked about how we would never have heard the beautiful bells if we hadn't been quiet.
We finished our time at the prayer table by learning a song with the lyrics, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."
What a beautiful beginning to Advent in the atrium. I am looking forward to the next two weeks with the children and hope that you and your family are finding ways to stop, be silent and listen as we wait for the birth of Jesus.