Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
Second Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Scripture Reference: Matthew 3: 1-12
First Thoughts -- Peace is the theme for the second Sunday of Advent, which might seem a little surprising when we read the sermon from John the Baptist.  This sermon is convicting, calling us to repentance.  It’s rowdy and disturbing - not particularly peaceful, huh?  We’re going to use this difficult lesson as a starting point to help the kids learn about “shalom“, loosely translated from the Hebrew to mean “right relationship“.  Peace isn’t just the absence of obvious conflict.  As the gospel preaches it, peace is a radical new way of living.  To achieve true peace in our lives we don’t avoid conflict; we walk into that conflict with the intention of bringing Christ’s light and love into the midst of the struggle.  We don’t live in denial of our fear and anxiety; we invite Christ to enter into those tender places, to show us how to heal our own wounds and how to work toward the healing of others in our lives and in our world.  We can extend the struggle for peace to go beyond our interpersonal relationships to include our relationship with our world.  How do we live respectfully and healingly in world of unjust structures, and a world in which species are going extinct because of our own lack of good stewardship?  These are heavy questions to consider.  Spend some time with your partner or on your own, reflecting on how God might be calling you to deepen your commitment to peace, to shalom, to right living.  If you feel led to make a new move for peace, share it with your partner, or with someone else in your life to whom you can be accountable in following God’s leading.
Setting the Scene -- Your manger/crib should still be central to your meeting place.  For props this Sunday you will need some kind of bandage to wrap around Leader A’s right foot - the bigger the better!  (We’re going for dramatic.)  If it’s too difficult to bandage the foot, you can go with a hand, and adjust the script to reflect the change.  You’ll also need a circular rattle which you might give a baby.  Actually any sort of baby toy will do, as long as the shape is a circle.
Teaching as a Team
Leader A (hobbling up to the chancel steps):  (speaking miserably) Hi.
Leader B: Oh, no!  What happened to you?
Leader A: I was just playing soccer outside with some friends, and one of them accidentally tripped me.  Now I have a sprained ankle.
Leader B:  That looks like it really hurts.
Leader A:  Yep.  I think it will probably slow down my running for today’s game.
Leader B:  Today’s game?  Do you mean that you’re planning to play again today?
Leader A:  Sure, I love soccer.
Leader B: But don’t you think it would be smarter to let your ankle heal up first.  (to kids) What do you guys think?
Leader A: But I play soccer every day with my friends.  If it rains, or snows, or a tornado comes along- we always play!
Leader B: Sounds like you might need to repent.
Leader A:  What does that mean?
Leader B: Repent means to change direction.  If you go out and play with your ankle hurt, it’s just going to get worse. You might even break it!  Have any of you had any broken bones?  (If no child says yes, ask the congregation)  Is it any fun?  No.  
Leader A: But if I don’t play soccer today, what should I do?
Leader B: You should do all the things you need to do to help your ankle heal.  (to kids) You guys have any ideas?  The most important thing is that you have to have shalom in your body.
Leader A: Shalom?  Is that some kind of new medicine?  Does it taste bad?
Leader B: No, shalom means peace.  Your body needs to be well for you to really enjoy playing soccer again.  Shalom means we live in peace within ourselves, and in our world.
Leader A: But how can I bring shalom into the world?
Leader B: We start with ourselves. How many of you  have had someone hurt your feelings?  Have you ever hurt anybody else’s feelings?  If we want to bring shalom into the world we start there - with forgiving people, and asking forgiveness.  
Leader A:  That might be kinda hard.  
Leader B: Just like sitting out from the soccer game might be hard.  But it’s something you need to do if you want to get better.  And growing in peace is something we all need to do to get ready for Jesus to come - which is going to happen in two weeks! (cheer - encourage kids to cheer)  Since this Sunday is about peace, I have a peace gift for the baby.  (Holds up circle toy)
Leader A: How is that a peace gift?
Leader B: Because it’s a circle, which reminds us we are all connected to each other and to God.  If I want peace, I need to pray for your peace too.  If I want to be forgiven, I have to forgive as well.  (to kids) Who wants to add our peace gift to the manger?  (child volunteer places it inside)
Teaching on Your Own-- How many of you have ever had a sprained ankle, or maybe even a broken bone?  How did it happen?  What did you do after you got hurt - did you jump right up and start playing again?  No - you took time to rest and heal, right?  What might have happened if you’d just started playing again?  You might have been hurt worse.  It’s not always easy to rest and heal when we’ve hurt ourselves, but once we know we’re hurt we know we have to stop what we’re doing, change direction, and take care of ourselves.  I’m going to give you two Bible terms, ready?  “Repent” and “shalom“.  (Get them to repeat the words to you).  Repent means to change direction.  If you know that doing something is going to hurt you or somebody else, you make a change in direction and do something different.  And shalom means to live in peace.  When you’re hurt, does your body have shalom?  No, it’s not peaceful at all, is it?  That’s why you have to rest, to let your body heal and become peaceful again.  But shalom isn’t only about us being peaceful inside; it’s about us living in peace with the world around us.  How many of you have ever been in a fight - where you hurt someone’s feelings or they hurt yours?  That’s not a peaceful feeling, is it?  Jesus tells us that, in order to be God’s children and to spread God’s love, we need to grow in peace.  Which means first we repent - we stop the hurtful behavior.  And then we move in shalom - we forgive and ask for forgiveness.  Can you think of people you might need to forgive?  Can you think of someone you need to apologize to?  Living in peace is another way we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus- which is just two more weeks away!  (Cheer, encourage cheering)  Since today is Peace Sunday I’ve got a peace gift to put in the manger. (Hold up circle toy)  Does anyone know why this is a peace gift?  Because it’s a circle, and circles remind us that we’re connected to each other, and to God.  My peace is connected to your peace, because God loves all of us.  Who would like to place our peace gift in the manger?  (Allow a volunteer to do so)
Prayer --  On this second Sunday of Advent, God, we ask for you to increase our peace.  Help us to open our hearts to you, that we might be healed, and that we might bring healing to the world around us.  Continue to grow our hearts so that we’ll be ready for the Christ child when he comes.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Follow-Up Lesson -- You might continue the discussion with the children about who is in their “circle” of relationship.  They might create a paper-link chain for decorating their tree, writing the names of their connections on each link (Mom, Dad, best friend, church friends, school teacher, etc).  Encourage them to think beyond their own families, into their communities, the world, and their non-human connections.  Also, you might consider helping the kids feel connected to the larger world through working with Amnesty International’s Christmas Card Campaign (details available on website); or  by organizing a local litter pick-up day or some other environment-conscious activity.