Monday, 30 November 2015

Advent Labyrinth - Journey to Christmas

It's been a while since my last blog, after 6 years of running Toddler Praise Mum's and Tot's group, I had to suddenly give up. This was due to my hours at work changing but the Lord leads us on to do other things, so I guess my time was over. My husband with the help of others still runs the group but sadly without the bible crafts that I produced to go with the theme.

There is another reason I haven't blogged for a while, I downloaded Microsoft 10, which wasn't compatible with Blogger. If you are reading this then I guess those issues have now been sorted, otherwise I'm writing this to no avail.

This weekend we  had a joint service for all 8 churches in our cluster of north Scarborough churches.  The guest speakers were the wonderful couple and writers, Adrian and Bridget Plass and singer/songwriter Rob Halligan (check him out he's really good). I found myself on Sunday school duty and needing to prepare something for an unknown number of children and an unknown age range.

As it was Advent Sunday I decided to focus on advent as being a Journey to Christmas, a time of preparing our heads and hearts for the birth of Jesus. A labyrinth seemed an obvious way of presenting a journey, with different simple activities on the way and Jesus being at the centre. The activities were kept simple as they are symbolic, although the suitcase craft does take a bit of time, allowing it to be a good gathering craft, while everyone is arriving.
Station 7- Pipe cleaner 'selfs' in the nativity.


With the nativity at the centre, the labyrinth is set up as a spiral around the room with stations of prayer or craft along the route.

The nativity is at the centre of the room because throughout advent we are preparing for Jesus, it is our focus. The labyrinth is a spiral because day by day in all that we do we are getting closer. The labyrinth needs a distinct path, made in any way, chairs, rope, fairy lights, chalk etc…

Station 1 - My journey

Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, preparing our hearts to let Jesus in. It can be considered as a journey, although not a physical one but a journey for our heads and hearts.

Make a person out of pipe cleaners to represent yourself on a Journey to Christmas, carry it with you as you go around the labyrinth.
Station 1 - Make a pipe cleaner 'self'

Station 2 - Preparations for a Journey

Before we go on a journey we need to prepare: where shall we go, what shall we take with us, what are we going to eat, have we got tickets, passports, filled the car with petrol, whose going to look after the pets, are the bills paid, plants watered. So many things to consider. Mary and Joseph also had to prepare for their long journey, what would they be able to carry on their long journey to Bethlehem and what would they need for the baby who was going to be born.

Draw and cut out things we need when we go on a journey and things Mary and Joseph would have needed. On one side of the suitcase (box) stick what we need and on the other, what Mary and Joseph would have needed.

We were given wooden cigar boxes, which we used as suitcases, any box could be used or draw an open suitcase onto A4 paper.
Station 2 - Pack a suitcase for a journey

Station 3 - Prayer Chain

Israel was under occupation by Romans soldiers, all citizens had be called back to their birth towns for the census. The roads were very busy with people travelling and Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem with them.

Prayer paper chain - pray for countries affected by war and natural disasters and all people displaced by them. Write on a strip of paper a situation in the world you want to pray for, then attach it to the chain.

Ready gummed paper chains.
Station 3 - A prayer paper chain

Station 4 - The Journey

It was a journey of 70 miles to Bethlehem from Nazareth, walking all the way, they possibly had a donkey but the bible doesn't mention it. Mary and Joseph would have had to face many obstacles on their journey, mountains to climb, rivers to cross, roadside robbers to avoid, wild animals, where would they sleep. All the time Mary was heavily pregnant.

We have obstacles to negotiate before we arrive at the stable too. Many things we have to do before Christmas arrives; school, work, presents to buy, cards to write, concerts and nativity plays, homework to complete, people to visit.

Continue on your journey through the Labyrinth by negotiating the obstacles.

Build an obstacle course out of whatever you have to hand, chairs, tables, slides, tunnels, anything as long as it's safe.

Station 5 - The Shepherds

The Angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem and proclaimed the good news of Jesus birth. The Shepherds left their sheep in the fields and journeyed into Bethlehem to see the new King, the Good Shepherd who had been born.

Make a little sheep and on it write the name of someone you want to thank God for, someone who has shepherd you, led you, taught you, loved you, shown you the way to go.
Station 5 - Sheep prayers

Station 6 - The Magi

The Magi were star gazers, interpreting the future in the stars. They witnessed the birth of a new star, which heralded the birth of the King of the Jews. The Magi followed the star to Bethlehem, where they found Jesus, they bowed down and worshiped him and gave him gifts worthy of a king; Gold Frankincense and Myrrh.

Decorate a star as a Christmas decoration, a reminder throughout advent and Christmas of Jesus the King of all.
Station 6 - Follow the star to Bethlehem

Station 7 - Baby Jesus

See the tiny baby at the centre of the Nativity, a helpless baby born to be king of all people. Spend a few moments thinking about this remarkable baby.

Place your pipe cleaner self in the nativity as a symbol that you want Jesus at the centre of your Christmas and your life. You can collect your pipe cleaner self after the service if you wish to keep it, maybe put it in your own nativity scene at home.

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