Monday, December 3, 2018

Happy New Year!

A Story for the First Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 9: 2-7
A party blower

Begin by blowing loud and long on the party blower, then shout, " HAPPY NEW YEAR!!"  The children will inevitably look confused and ask what you're talking about.  Play with this a little while, then go on with the story.

So, today isn't New Year's?  When do we usually celebrate the new year?  January 1, that's right.  But did you know there are people in different parts of the world who celebrate the new year at various times?  Chinese New Year begins on February 5, 2019, and the party goes on until February 19th!  Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah, and was celebrated last September 9-11.

The Christian Church divides the year up into seasons.  The Christian year begins with the season of Advent, which starts with the 4th Sunday before Christmas.  Advent is a season of preparation as we get ready for Jesus' coming into the world.  In fact, Advent means "coming" or "arrival."  Today is the First Sunday in Advent, so this is the first day of the Christian year.  So again, I say (toot party blower), "Happy New Year!"

Each season of the church year is assigned its own special color.  The color for Advent is purple (or blue--say whichever your church uses), a color associated with kings and royalty.  We light special candles during Advent to help us mark the time leading up to Jesus' birth at Christmas.  We also think about our lives and what we might do to become more faithful followers of Christ.  So, even as we get ready for Christmas by decorating our homes, baking special treats and buying gifts, the most important thing we need to do is to ready our hearts for the amazing gift of God's love at Christmas.  Let's start that preparation by praying together now.

You may wish to offer this as an echo prayer, inviting the children to repeat after you.
Loving God,
We thank you for sending Jesus into our world
to show us just how much you love us.
May we start this new Christian year
by seeking to share the love and kindness of Jesus
each and every day.

Before you go, I have something for each of you.  (Pass out a party blower to each child.)  Now on the count of 3, blow your horn and shout "Happy New Year!" together, ok?  The congregation is welcome to join in the shouting.  One, two, three...(toot horn)...Happy New Year!

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