Last evening, we did an Advent procession (to a recording of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel) in our classroom, carrying all of the objects and symbols needed to set up our prayer table/Advent wreath. With the lights dimmed and the first candle lit, I asked them what is happening this time of the year in terms of light and darkness. Of course they noted that darkness is increasing and the light decreasing each day. I mentioned that December 21 will be the day with the least sunlight and the most darkness. I told them that, at the same time, in our homes and churches, the light of our Advent wreaths will be increasing each week right up until we celebrate the birth of the Light of the World on Christmas.
I explained that we often use the image of darkness to refer to times of sadness in our lives and I shared how I found out just before class that a friend of mine with whom I had lost contact had lost her husband to cancer a few months ago. I said she was experiencing darkness and that I plan to call her as a way of trying to bring some light into her darkness. I asked if they could think of examples from their lives where people are experiencing or have experienced darkness. Without hesitation, they began to share stories of people in their lives who have died or who are terminally ill. It was very touching but I was impressed with how they were able to talk about these things so maturely. I explained that I didn’t bring this up to depress them 🙂 but to show how much we need the light of Christ in our lives. I said that the darkness is very real but the light of Christ is also very real and more powerful! I then reminded them that this is why we sang the closing song at our Advent prayer service in church just a half hour earlier: This Little Light of Mine! I said that we really do need to let the light of Christ shine through us to help dispel the darkness.
How have you introduced (or plan to introduce) the concept of Advent to your classes?