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Focus on hope this Advent

Christmas angel offering hope

This Advent “We have the opportunity to show people ritual tradition, and, most of all, hope,” says Kathy Pittenger, Coordinator of Children’s Initiatives for the Michigan Conference.

KATHY PITTENGER
Michigan Conference Children’s Initiatives

Happy November!! 2020 has been quite the year, and we, as people who follow Jesus, have an incredible opportunity to take the mess of 2020 and offer something beautiful to send it off. How could we possibly do that? You may ask? Why, Advent and Christmas, of course! We are working with exhausted grown-ups and kids with screen fatigue. We support families who still haven’t found their rhythm and routine with on-line worship and virtual Sunday School. Still, we have an opportunity to show people ritual, tradition, and, most of all, hope. 

Advent

Advent, by its very nature, is a time of preparation and a time of hope. It is a time of expectation, waiting, and patience. Things that we have been doing so much in 2020. But, whereas COVID waiting has provided more questions than answers, we know there is a magnificent gift at the end of Advent. This year, as churches continue to find ways to do hybrid ministry (want to know more about hybrid ministry? check out the Launch! project), we get to be super creative with Advent and Christmas. Maybe this year, we can lay aside traditions that we need to break from and try something new.

So often, we want to jump to the ideas – what are we going to do! While that can be the fun part of planning, let’s approach Advent and Christmas with an especially careful plan. Take time to name your why. Focus on one area – don’t try to do it all! For example, focus on mission OR faith at home OR healing & grief OR Advent values such as peace, hope, love, and joy. While aspects of one can flow into another, be intentional, and focus on one area. Then keep it simple. Many families simply do not have the capacity to do all the things this year. If you offer an Advent at Home box, create 4-5 activities with all the materials provided. 

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve this year may look very different from those of the past. Many great ideas are floating around about how you can do family Christmas Eve services in creative ways. You could invite families to record different sections of the service and then stitch it all together and offer it for families to view on Christmas Eve.

Another creative idea is to create a walk around or drive-thru outside at the church where people can experience the Christmas story at three or four stops. You could do a passing of the light and sing Silent Night. A simple yet meaningful way for families to experience the light of Christ together. 

We have an Advent and Christmas Resources page in the Children’s Ministry Toolbox. Currently, it contains ideas from the last few years, and new ideas will be added soon. If you have ideas, resources, or scripts that you would be willing to share, please send them to Kathy Pittenger at kpittenger@michiganumc.org

Advent and Christmas 2020 may look different this year, but we can make this a meaningful season that our children and families will remember forever!