Our second Advent session focused on this Antiphon:

O key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison, free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

To start with, we focused on the idea of setting free those who are in a dark and frightening place. One of the children had written a summary of the chapter in the “Dawn Treader,” where the crew of the ship find themselves lost in a dark island where nightmares come to life.

Dark island looks so far away, not real, an island of only mist, a darkness, a long dark and twisted tunnel, that you cannot see the other end of. Suddenly we vanish into a smooth dense blackness, bright greenish blue water behind, beyond the water looks pale and grey, we are on the edge of a moonless starless night, behind sea and sun, ahead darkness.
We seek honor and adventure. Do we lose that focus? Do we turn back, or not? We are the light in darkness, engulfed by darkness, a small light world of our own floating in darkness and coldness.
Fear is making us lose humanity. Then there is a voice in the darkness. We save him as he describes nightmares coming true and monsters ruling our minds.
Row out of the dark to the light. But it seems we can never get out, if you love us, help us.
A bird calls out sweet words understood by none but one, the call is followed by us, we follow the sound out of the dark, realizing there never had been and never would be anything to fear. You have saved us.
We look back, the dark mist vanishing for ever, leaving clear hope and joy in its place.”

After hearing this and an extract from the story, we focused on the gospel for Advent 2, about John calling in the wilderness. We played a game based on “We’re going on a bear hunt” which had the refrain “We’re building a road, a road through the Wilderness; a road for the King.” We met lots of obstacles: rocks, thorns, stunted trees, a dry valley and even bandits. The children bravely moved all obstacles so that the road could be built.

While the children drew maps of the road through the wilderness, the adults took time to think about what are the things that ‘keep them captive’ and what are the obstacles that stop them allowing the King to come close. A few of the adults wrote some comments:

“Let your Advent come and come again. I need to continually be set free from captivity, from darkness and fear. Whenever I think I am free and forget you I find myself bound again. Come Lord Jesus come.”

“Turn our hearts and minds to feelings for others by being set free.”

“So often I am held back by regret over things I couldn’t change and finding it hard to understand the reason and purpose of such things. I know my God loves me just as I am and hope to be more worthy of this in Advent.”

“It feels different this week to be waiting in a frightening place, a desolate place, longing for someone to come and rescue me. Last week’s antiphon made me feel as if I was wrapped around with love and God’s presence. This week there is desperation about the waiting. Longing that was expectant and excited is now more serious and vital.”

We finished by thinking back to last week when we thought about the question “What does it feel like to wait for the one who breathes life into us and sustains us?” This week the question might be “What is it like waiting for the one whosets us free from a dark and frightening place?” or “What does it feel like to be lost and be waiting for the one who will rescue us?”