On Friday 20th some of our families gathered again at St Agnes for our final Advent group. Again, we took the same theme as the adults and considered Mary.
We began by lighting the 4 Advent candles on our wreath and thought about the previous weeks:
We have arrived at the last week of Advent and the waiting is almost over. We have thought about the promises God made to bring about his Kingdom, a kingdom where there would be laughter and everyone would be safe; where the broken would be mended and where peace would reign. We have thought about how Christ is the King of the Kingdom and thought about what he is like. We are called to become like him. We have thought about what Christ’s love looks like when it is put into action so that God’s kingdom can be seen. When the fourth candle is lit, we know that the King is so close we can almost feel him. Today we are going to think about how Jesus’ mother Mary helps us enter into the kingdom.
There were three activities set up around the Church, each focussing on an aspect of Mary’s part in the Christmas story. Firstly we considered the Annunciation. There were different representations of this event from different artists for the children to look at. That morning that reading from the Saints had been a meditation by St Bernard, who thinks about that moment when the angel is speaking and the world is waiting for Mary to reply. The children heard this version:
When something really, really important happens, when we are waiting for something dramatic to happen sometimes we hold our breath. St Bernard thought about the time when the angel met Mary to tell her God wanted her to be the mother of his Son of his promised King. He thought about the pause, when Mary thought about her response. He imagined talking to her while the world held its breath. Imagine along with him. Imagine you are alongside St Bernard in Mary’s house. The Angel has just spoken to Mary. We are waiting to here her response.
Did you hear those words Mary? You! God’s mother! And the Angel; Oh my goodness! What a thing. Mary what are you going to say? Mary, the angel, he’s waiting. Now is the time. All those hundreds of years, waiting. They could all come to an end. He would be here, now, really close to God, like he always intended we would. Freedom!
Now God breaths life into us, but the world contains death. You can bring us to life again. To live as God always wanted us too.
Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden and they cry tears of sorrow. They beg you. Allow God to show us the way back home. Abraham and Isaac, Joseph and all your ancestors dreamed of this moment. They all ask you Let God bring his Kingdom on earth. Let the King arrive. All of those who live broken lives all those who are held captive by sin all of the world waits, hoping, holding their breath. The whole of creation longs for the King to be born. Will you let it happen?
Answer quickly, so that the angel can take your answer to your Father in heaven. See your son, let him come into being. Are you hesitating because you think you are too poor, too young? Now is the time for being bold and confident. God, who loves you, has chosen you. Open you heart and let his love become a real person. Let him come into the World he created.
And Mary takes a deep breath. She has made up her mind. “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!”
Now he can come, our King is coming, making his home with Mary his mother. If you would only say “Yes” our salvation would come. We would be able to be really,
The second activity had small pictures of Mary, mainly of the Visitation. The children heard Bob Hartman’s version of the Visitation, which included a child friendly version of the Magnificat. The children then used magnifying glasses to look at the small pictures. We talked about how magnifying glasses made things seen more easily. This is what Mary’s song and her example does. God is seen more easily.
The final activity focused on the Nativity and after hearing the story of Christmas night, the children drew pictures of the stable. We talked about how the stable was an unexpected place for God’s promised King to be born.
For each of these activities the teenagers were also given the quotes the adults had read.
We returned to the front and thought about what we had thought about at each activity. We then finished with these thoughts:
Jesus came to a broken world and Mary, a poor girl from an insignificant town said ‘Yes’ to allow the King to come into the world and start to mend it. In her life we see God magnified, seen clearly. In her, a poor girl from an insignificant town in an insignificant nation we see how God brings his kingdom, into being in surprising ways.
On Christmas Eve we place the baby in the crib. The King will arrive, quietly and unnoticed. He comes to mend the broken and to bring laughter where there have been tears. God comes into the World to be with the ones he loves and to bring them into his kingdom. That time is so close. Just a few days and our waiting will be over. Rejoice, our king is nearly here.