I remember celebrating only five holidays in church as a child: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Then in college I attended a church that followed the Christian calendar, and I was astonished by how many holy-days I had never heard of even though I grew up in the church. I also learned that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were not actually part of the Christian calendar! As a person who has a soft spot for traditions and warm memories, I instantly found myself enthralled with the Christian year. But the more I learn about it, the more I understand that it isn’t about those traditions or memories, but rather is a complete reordering of the way we live our lives. As God’s people, we mark time by the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—the events we believe have forever changed this world.
As both a children’s minister and a parent, it’s important to me that I do what I can to share this gift with children, to help them understand the colors, seasons, and celebrations of the gathered people of God as something more than precious traditions and warm memories. I want my children to grow up marking time by the holy events that changed history and seeing their lives as a part of God’s big story. So much of what children learn is absorbed through experience, and there is no substitute for participating in rich, meaningful experiences of worship around the Christian year with your church community and at home. This series of children’s pages is designed to supplement the rich, lived experiences of children, to provide language that children, parents, and church leaders can use to talk about those experiences, and to help children begin to see and live into the deep beauty of the story of the Bible.
Each children’s page provides a visual Christian calendar to help children place the current season in the cycle of the Christian year. Each page also contains a brief explanation of the season and activities designed to help your child go deeper into what the seasons are all about. Children could use these pages during worship, at home with children and parents working through and talking about them together, or in a special class for children about the seasons of the Christian year. Perhaps children could share what they have learned with your congregation—there are many adults who could benefit from hearing these truths in the voice of a child! However you use these pages, I pray they will be a blessing to the children in your church community as they journey with Jesus.
More to Come
Look for additional pages in the next three issues of Reformed Worship that will cover the seasons and special celebrations of Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Ordinary Time.
Advent and Christmas
What is the Christian calendar?
The Christian calendar is how Christians keep track of days, weeks, months, and years. It is a way for God’s people to keep track of time and to remember the story of Jesus all year round. The Christian calendar is full of special days and seasons that point us to Jesus. Our world has been changed by Jesus’ life. The Christian calendar helps us to live as people who are a part of God’s story, to walk in the light of Jesus Christ all year long.
What is Advent?
Advent is the beginning of the Christian year. It is the time to get ready for the wonder of Christmas. The color for Advent is sometimes blue and sometimes purple. These colors tell us that we should slow down and pay attention.
During Advent, we remember and we wait. We remember how God’s people waited a long time for Jesus to come as a baby. We remember that God always keeps his promises. And we wait for Jesus to keep his promise to come again. It is hard to wait! It is very hard to wait when we are waiting for something good. Advent teaches us that God is with us in our waiting.
Color the Advent Wreath
An Advent wreath helps us wait for Jesus during Advent. Maybe you have seen an Advent wreath in the worship space of your church. Maybe you have one in your home. Each week, as we get closer to Christmas, the light gets brighter and brighter as more candles are lit. Pay attention to each candle as it is lit. Can you figure out what each one means?
Have you ever had to wait a long time for something?
Have you ever had to wait a long time for something?
- Draw a picture of yourself waiting for something very special.
- Draw a picture of what it was like when the waiting was finally over.
What is Christmas?
At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth. The color of Christmas is white or gold because it is a time for joy and parties. You have probably heard the story of Christmas many times. Christmas is a wonderful gift because it is the beginning of the best part of God’s story. When Jesus came as a little baby, the whole world changed, and it will never be the same again. This is why we celebrate with special songs and services. This is why we give gifts to one another—because in Jesus, we have been given life with God. It’s the only gift we’ll ever need!
The Twelve Days of Christmas
We celebrate on Christmas Day, but Christmas is also a season that lasts for twelve days! Each day during the season of Christmas, read a Scripture passage and color a star to remember to celebrate all season long!
- Isaiah 9:2–7
- Titus 2:11–14
- Isaiah 52:7–10
- Titus 3:4–7
- Psalm 98:4–8
- Philippians 2:5–11
- Hebrews 1:1–4
- John 1:1–5
- Galatians 4:4–7
- Psalm 148:9–13
- John 1:12
- Revelation 21:3–5
What is Epiphany?
Epiphany is a word that means Oh, I get it! It is also the name of one of the first Sundays of the new year, when we celebrate the Magi, the astronomers that followed a star to find Jesus. Some churches talk about the season of Epiphany, which goes all the way until the beginning of Lent. The color of Epiphany is white because it is a celebration. We all are invited to come and see Jesus, learn about him, and tell others too! Then we all get to say “Oh, I get it!” That is a reason to celebrate!
Many people in the Bible knew Jesus but didn’t really know he was God until he rose from the dead. I wonder if you ever have a hard time remembering who Jesus is. We all need the Holy Spirit to show us who Jesus is. We need the Holy Spirit to help us say, “Oh, I get it!”
Help the Magi find Jesus
Instructions: Can you trace the path from the wise men to Mary, Joseph, and the young Jesus?
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