This Friday was our final Family Advent group. The structure, like the adults’ group, only had one main activity and allowed more time for the children to investigate our theme of Love.

After lighting candles, singing “Wait for the Lord” we thought about all we had done in the previous 3 weeks:

Over the last few of weeks we have thought about the work God is doing in us during Advent. Remember that when Mary was told she would be Jesus’ mother, he didn’t appear straight away. Slowly over the months, in secret Jesus grew. Mary had to wait. When the time was right Jesus was born. In Advent we are getting ready to welcome Jesus into the World and into our lives. We thought about faith: about knowing and trusting God and hope: longing for God and for him to take us home. We thought about Joy and Justice: of knowing we are all created and loved by God. Knowing that happiness of all people comes from knowing God. Now the thing that God has been growing in us this Advent is almost ready. I wonder what it is. I wonder what shape it is taking? Three candles on our Advent wreath are lit. We are very close now. We wait but for a short time for our waiting, our joyful anticipation to be over. Today we think about love, for it was love that brought God’s promised King into this world to be with his people and bring them home.

Our main activity started by watching part of the film “Whisper of the Heart”. Many of the children had already seen the whole film at home. We noticed that Seiji and Shizuku pour themselves into what they love; violin making and writing. They also act as an inspiration to each other and want to share special things together.

After this started we split into two groups. The older children worked with Fr Neil. They had two quotes to look at:

To have a heart full of love means to be so pleased with something that one emerges from oneself and devotes oneself to it. A musician can devote himself to a masterpiece. A kindergarten (nursery) teacher can be there wholeheartedly for her charges. In every friendship there is love. ..All human love is an image of divine love, in which all love is at home. Love is the inmost being of the Triune God. In God there is continual exchange and perpetual self-giving. Through the overflowing of divine love we participate in the eternal love of God. The more a person loves, the more he resembles God. (From YOUCAT)

“Love is essentially a giving of oneself to others. Far from being an instinctive inclination, love is a conscious decision of the will to go out to others. To be able to love properly, one must detach oneself from many things and above all from self; one must give freely, one must love to the end. This stripping away of self- along job- is laborious and exciting. It is the source of equilibrium. It is the secret of happiness” (by Blessed John Paul II in an address to Families, Foggia, May 24, 1987)

They discussed what they meant and then worked to present them to the younger children.

Those 10 and below started thinking about Love by drawing a picture of a person they love and writing down some of the things they do with and for that person to show they love them. Using these things as a group they tried to answer the question “What is love?”

We shared what we had discovered when we made one big group towards the end.

Here is the answer to the question “What is love?”:
It is: affection;care; being together; in your heart; powerful, it overcomes all obstacles and Love involves: sacrifice; putting others first and kindness. It is unconditional.

The older children taught us that love:
• Is the centre of the Trinity.
• Is the centre of us.
• Is freely given
• Is hard work, but is the secret of happiness.
• Is true life
• Is not just a reaction but a decision
• Devotes itself to something- the object of it’s love.
• Gives itself to another

And that God is the source of true love. The more we love the more we are like God. If we think about others and love them, the happier we are.

To finish, we thought about Mary, a model of true love, and looking at “The Annunciation” by Henry Tanner, we listened to the Gospel. And this poem by Chris Goan
A time to love

So now is the time
For fun
Said Mum
Reaching deep into
Her bulging bag of loves
And carefully selecting
One that squeaked

And in the circle of her arms
His wide world wobbled
In the safety of the moment
Glorious out of control

But if he falls
He will land softly
In the clover
Of his mother’s lap

For now is the time
To love

Our final prayer was based on the Collect for Sunday:

O Lord we ask that you may pour your love into our hearts that we, who have heard the announcement of Jesus’ coming, by an angel and by Elizabeth be with Christ, in the Stable, as he is with those he loves, as he dies and in the garden when he rises again.