Advent 1: 30th November
The Patriarchs and Matriarchs – Abraham and Sarah’s story
Today’s Old Testament reading invites us to look backwards. Abraham and Sarah heard God’s call and followed it, becoming the father and mother of our faith. God blessed them with descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and through the generations God’s blessing has been passed on. Advent is a good time for us to look back at the blessings we have received, and to work out ways of passing those blessings on to others.
Activity suggestions for children’s groups
Preparation beforehand: Prepare lots of lengths (c.12-18 inches) of ribbon (or wool). One of them should be tied into a loop at one end, while all the others will need a loop at both ends.
Reading: Read the Bible passage through from the LLLA booklet, emphasising God’s promise of blessing, and how Abraham and Sarah’s response enabled that blessing to be passed on to ‘all the families of the earth’.
- Hold up your first ribbon (with the loop at just one end).
This represents God’s promise of blessing.
- Take another length of ribbon. This is Abraham and Sarah. God called them, and made a promise, that they would be the mother and father of his people, and that they would have the biggest family on earth. They listened to his call, and did all that he asked.
Thread the second length of wool or ribbon through the loop in the first, so that you now have two ends. God kept his promise.
- Through the generations, God kept on making wonderful promises, and giving people his blessing, and every time someone heard God’s promise and did what God asked, the blessing got passed on. Keep adding a ribbon to each new empty loop – you can point out that you are creating a sort of family tree, each new ‘generation’ doubles the number of loops you have available for the next ‘generation’, as the blessings of God’s promises are shared. If they are enjoying it, you can carry on, making a network of blessing that will spread to touch the whole room and require everyone to join in.
- Who has blessed you? If you traced back the blessings in your life, who would you want to name in your own ‘family tree’ of blessing? Some of them might be members of your own family, some might be teachers, friends, people who shared their faith with you. Then think about who you have blessed – the people you care for, teach, support, and share your faith with. We receive God’s blessing and we are also a blessing to others.
- Ask, how many times do you think this can happen? How many times can we receive God’s blessing and pass it on? If each person who heard God’s call passed on God’s blessing to just two other people, who then passed on that blessing to two people each, think how much blessing there would be in the world!
- What would happen if we did that during Advent – starting today, with just one person, if they passed on a blessing to two more tomorrow, reaching four people the day after etc, how many new blessings would there be by Boxing Day? If you did this, there would be 67,108,864 new blessings on Boxing day, enough for the entire UK population.
- If you’re using Love Life Live Advent, then you can link to the daily actions: Today’s story reminds us to look back at the past year to see how we have been blessed (see daily actions for 3rd and 5th December), and to look forward to how we can respond to God’s call to be a blessing to others (see daily action for 2nd December – you might like to warn people that if they put 1p in their jar the first day, and then 2p the next, 4p the day after etc, it will soon mount up during Advent!).
- You may wish to give everyone a ribbon with loops tied in it to take home – as a reminder of God’s blessings, God’s promises, and the ways that we can use Advent as a time to bless others.
If you do this activity with an all age congregation
- you can potentially end up with a really big network of ribbons – make sure you have plenty!
- it would work as a way of enabling those who won’t want to speak up or get up from their seats to become involved in what’s happening
- if you have any mathematicians in the congregation they may know or be able to work out the maths question!
- It would be good to be able to celebrate the family trees in your congregation, if you have any (eg children, parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents) – older members of the congregation may be more aware of the grand scale of the passage of time through the generations, but equally, some of the children may have learned about family trees at school – it is the sort of activity that can enable different age groups in church to share something to talk about.
For children: This song includes the option of adding actions between repetitions – it may be known to some through school. Sheet music and guitar chords are widely available online, including http://childrensbiblesongs.us
Father Abraham had many sons,
many sons had father Abraham,
I am one of them, and so are you,
so let’s all praise the Lord.
For an all age congregation: this song reflects the dual Advent themes of ‘being ready’ and the progression of patriarchs and matriarchs, and prophets etc. The tune is ‘Sing Hosanna’. The words are free to use.
There’s a story to tell of creation,
And the patriarchs’ faith of old,
There are stories of prophets and sages,
We’ll repeat them ‘til the world’s been told:
Sing together! sing together!
Sing to welcome in the King of Kings.
Sing together! Sing together!
Sing to welcome in the King.
There are stories of sin and forgiveness,
Of a Kingdom of truth and love.
Of a girl who gave birth to a baby,
To fulfil God’s promise from above:
As God’s people prepare for his coming,
And remember those days long gone,
Our own stories are yet to be written,
As we live to make God’s kingdom come:
We must each of us wait for the morning,
Through the night we will watch and pray,
As we look for the light that is dawning,
We’ll be ready at the break of day: