One Sunday I asked the young disciples in the congregation I serve to describe peace. Some said peace was the opposite of war or disagreement. Others saw peace as an internal calm. When I encouraged them to expand their thinking, they struggled, and I realized peace is a difficult concept to understand, much less explain. There are many levels to peace-making, yet all of them reside in and rest on the love and being of Christ.
On this second Sunday in Advent, children will explore what peace looks like to God and how they might help bring about peace in the world.
You will need
- A Bible
- A computer with internet access connected to a data projector or television, origami paper, YouTube video or printed instructions for making origami cranes (optional)
- Index cards, crayons and markers, chart paper or whiteboard (optional)
Greet the children as they arrive.
Ask the children to sit in a circle on the floor. Guide them through this relaxation exercise. Have them take several deep, slow breaths. Then ask them to relax their bodies, feeling the ground underneath them. Have them close their eyes and think about the most peaceful place or thing they can imagine.
After about 30 seconds, ask them to open their eyes and share what they imagined. Note the differences and similarities in the ways we find peace. Share that they will be exploring the idea of peace in today’s lesson.
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer.
Provide context for the lectionary reading (Isaiah 11:1-10): (Note: Below is the introduction to Isaiah from last week’s lesson. If you introduced this book of the Bible the previous week, you can either offer a summary of the information or ask the children to share what they remember.)
- Today’s reading comes from the book of Isaiah, which is part of the Old Testament. It is a story that was told many, many years before Jesus was born.
- The words in this book were likely written by two different people, but they are all collected under the name Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet. God chose Isaiah to share important messages with the people of God.
- At the time when Isaiah was alive, the people of God were going through a very hard time. They were facing attacks by other nations on the land God promised would be their homeland forever. They were feeling as if God abandoned them. They needed a message of hope from God. Isaiah offers that message.
Read aloud Isaiah 11:1-10.
After reading, ask:
- In the last half of this message from God, we hear about how animals will live together in the future. How would you expect wolves and lambs to live together? How about calves and lions? Cows and bears?
- Isaiah talks about some people and animals being together. He says that babies will be able to be with dangerous snakes (asps). What would you expect to happen if a baby played with a snake? What happens in the world Isaiah describes?
- The world that God promises through this message is one of peace. How are the ways that the animals and people live together peacefully?
- At the beginning of the story, Isaiah says that a person will bring this peace. This person is described as “a shoot” that will “come out of the stump of Jesse.” The person isn’t a plant. Who do you think this person might be?
- During Jesus’ life on earth, he often told stories about peace or helped bring about peace. What stories do you remember reading or hearing that show Jesus talking about or bringing peace to people?
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children explore the peace of Christ in their own lives through one or more of these activities.
- Paper cranes: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with internet access connected to a television or data projector and origami paper. Tell the children that origami paper cranes are often used as a symbol for peace. They are a reminder that peace can exist and by sharing them, we can offer peace to one another. Show this video demonstrating how to make a paper crane. Alternatively, you can download and print out these instructions. Make several paper cranes with the children. Encourage them to share the cranes with people in their lives or collect them and string them together to display in the church.
- Prayer for peace: Share with the children that there are areas of the world where there is no peace. Right now, the people in Ukraine are experiencing war. Show the children where Ukraine is on a world map. Note that even though we live far from this country, we are joined together with people across the world through the love of Christ. We can pray for peace to come to the people of Ukraine. Write a prayer for peace in Ukraine with the children. Offer the prayer together. Share the prayer with the congregation at a worship service or through your church newsletter. Encourage others to say this prayer or offer one of their own.
- Passing the peace: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: chart paper or a whiteboard, crayons or markers, and index cards. Practice passing the peace in your classroom using the movements and words used in your congregation’s worship services. Tell the children that “passing the peace” doesn’t have to be restricted to worship. We can share the peace of Christ anywhere with anyone. Write the word peace on a sheet of chart paper or the whiteboard. Hand out several index cards to the children along with crayons or markers. Ask them to write the word and draw pictures on each index card. At the end of your time together, encourage the children to take the cards with them and to share them with people outside of the church building as a reminder of the peace of Christ.
As you conclude your time together, offer a prayer for the coming week.
Encourage the children to take moments throughout this week to notice places and spaces where peace exists as well as those where peace is needed.