Elizabeth Christie, a member of Fritz UMC in Bethlehem and a specialist in ministries for children and families, offers some helpful ideas and recommended resources celebrating Advent in this important area of Christian education and ministry.
LECFamily provides meaningful camp and retreat experiences, tools and resources to help churches and families in their intergenerational faith journeys. It is a ministry of the Life Enrichment Center, a retreat and conference center of the UMC’s Florida Annual Conference.
“How do you #pictureAdvent?” To help you make the most of Advent, LECFamily offers a photo challenge to stimulate creative self-expression, along with Advent resources for worship, daily devotions and activities for children, youth and families. This resource for Advent (http://lecfamily.org/advent/) is created by United Methodists. “So the theology is sound,” says Christie.
UM Discipleship Ministries offers a number of Advent worship resources and family activities for use at home. They include creating an Advent wreath, or a paper prayer chain, or a “blessing jar.” https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/2017-advent-home-worship
A colorful, new children’s book, ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, just published in October, was authored Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Elena Selivanova. It would be a fabulous addition to a children’s message or family-friendly Christmas Eve service, says Christie. The author is a children’s minister in the Michigan Conference.
Here’s a description of the book on Amazon.com, where it can be purchased in hardcover for $10.42 or on a Kindle e-reader for $4.99:
For over 200 years, families have gathered on Christmas Eve to hear the much loved words of Dr. Clement C. Moore’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. This year, families can gather together to share the real Christmas story––the story of Jesus’ birth. ’Twas the Evening of Christmas echoes the familiar language and rhythm of Dr. Clements’ poetry, but instead of focusing on Santa, it focuses on the baby Jesus, who is, after all, the true hero of Christmas. All families will delight in this simple retelling of the most famous story ever told. With a cover that comes alive with foil and sculpted embossing, this book is sure to become a Christmas classic.
Finally, help your children prepare to celebrate Christmas by making “Jesus’ Birthday Cake.” Christie offers an easy recipe for this “sweet little take-home treat.” Just combine cake mix with the ingredients and directions on the attached flyer. (Put 1 c. sugar, 1.5 c. flour, 3 T. cocoa powder, and 1 t. baking soda into a small zippy bag, and staple the PDF onto the front).
Enjoy the cake while your family reads ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas. The two would go together nicely, recommends Christie.
Elizabeth Christie is consulting on ministries for children and families at West Lawn UMC in Reading through the end of the year. She wrote a 12-week Summer Sunday School session to accompany the 2017 “Hero Central” VBS curriculum. Now she is working on some 12 Days of Christmas and Epiphany resources to add to this page soon. We hope to receive and post more family and children’s ministries resources and ideas in the future. Please share these with others involved in this form of ministry.