Preparing for Christmas with older children
Displaying a nativity set is an Advent tradition that anticipates the coming of Christ, and while pre-teens can be hard to enthuse, they may make more gains from spending time with a nativity set each day than young children do.
Older children's understanding of Christmas can be strengthened by pondering before a Nativity scene. Simply adding a piece each day provides a moment for reflection on Jesus' entrance into the world. How is it that a little known couple should have a Baby in a little known place be remembered 2,000 years later? How is it that the King of the universe was born so unassumingly?
St. Francis of Assisi was the first to reflect upon Jesus' birth by showcasing a depiction of what that scene must have been like. "I want to do something that will recall the memory of that child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by," he said.
The scene reads as if from a children's storybook, and yet, it is a reality that tells us so much about our God.
Prayer suggestions to accompany your Nativity meditation:
The Angelus - The Angelus is traditionally a midday prayer in which we stop and remember the annunciation Angel Gabriel made to Mary that she should be the mother of God. In this prayer we recall the miracle of our God becoming man.
Scripture meditation: The Gospel of Luke chapters 1 - 2 (these depict the infancy of Jesus and can be meditated on little by little through the weeks of Advent)