Supplies needed for this series:
- Construction paper
- Clip art printed and ready to be colored
- Playlist of songs to listen to while creating a “shoebox nativity”
This series is designed for either an in-person worship experience or a virtual online experience. The shoebox nativity will be built throughout the Advent season, with additions added each week as we prepare for Christmas.
Each week, a playlist song will be recommended to accompany the child and family as they create the artwork to place in the shoebox. These songs will reinforce each week’s scripture text.
If providing in-person worship, the children’s message leader can build a shoebox nativity in front of the children and encourage them to continue this at home during the weeks of Advent. The in-person leader should prepare each week’s item in advance and present it during the weekly children’s message. The leader should encourage the children to work on their own box at home during the week.
The Day and Hour Are Not Known
32 “But no one knows about that day or hour. Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows. 33 Keep watch! Stay awake! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away. He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge. Each one is given a task to do. He tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn. 36 He may come suddenly. So do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone. ‘Watch!’”
Supplies: A gift-wrapped shoebox. Inside the box, have green and brown construction paper affixed to the bottom to represent grass and hay.
Playlist song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting and getting ready for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Sometimes it is hard to wait for Christmas morning to finally get here. We have lots to do as we prepare for the arrival of Jesus.
(Have the shoebox wrapped up as a Christmas gift.) We spend time shopping, decorating, and hoping to receive the perfect gift. When you see a wrapped Christmas present, you may shake it (shake it) or try to guess what’s in it by seeing how heavy it is.
I know it is early, but I am going to open this present today and see what’s inside. (Open the gift and show the kids that it is an empty shoebox.) You might think that this empty shoebox isn’t a very good gift, but I have a plan for all of us to use the weeks of Advent to create a shoebox nativity. This will remind us each week throughout the season of Advent of the most important gift that we will receive this Christmas.
I want each of you to spend time with your family creating a shoebox nativity at home and share time with one another talking about the reason for the season. This week, we will start with an empty shoebox. If you remove the lid and turn it sideways, it begins to look like a stable. Let’s take some time to color the outside of the stable. Take some green and brown construction paper and cut it into strips and glue it to the bottom to look like grass and hay.
Advent is a time to prepare, but it is also a time when we think about watching and waiting for Jesus to come again. Jesus told the disciples to “keep a sharp lookout” for his return. Are you good at lookouts? When you keep a sharp lookout, you must watch carefully for something. Sometimes you may get distracted.
I have a test for you. I’m going to read today’s Bible text to you. While I do, I want everyone to keep a sharp lookout and have your eyes on me. Don’t take your eyes off me. (If you are doing this virtually, have someone behind you on the screen cause a distraction. If you are in person, have someone cause a distraction somewhere else in the worship space. Keep reading until you complete the reading. Don’t become distracted yourself.)
How many of you kept watching me for the entire reading? Sometimes it is hard to keep a sharp lookout, especially when there are other things that get your attention. This time of year, life is full of distractions. All the decorations can distract us. Dreaming of all the gifts under the tree that are for us can distract us. Eating all the good Christmas cookies can distract us. Just like the disciples, we have many things that keep us from watching and waiting for Jesus. During this season of Advent, let’s try to keep our eyes on the reason for the season. Keep a sharp lookout for Jesus! Creating a shoebox nativity will help us to do that.
This week, find your shoebox and color it; create some grass and hay inside. Stables were messy, so clean it up to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
Each week, work on your shoebox together as a family. I will give you a song to play while you work on the nativity and to help you keep a sharp lookout for Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, as we wait for your coming, help us to keep our attention on you. There are so many things that we can do this Advent season that can distract us while we wait for Christmas Day, but we want to keep a sharp lookout for you! In your precious and strong name. Amen.