Advent is the liturgical season of waiting, expectation, and preparation for the coming of Jesus. Young children, who have a particular capacity to grasp signs and images, enjoy hearing short excerpts from the messianic prophecies. The signs in the prophecies give us clues about who Jesus is, and prepare us for reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth and early life (the infancy narratives).
Older children can consider the role of the prophets in time. In all of history, there has been a plan in the mind of God for all people and all creation to share in God’s full life in God’s Kingdom. This plan is revealed to us in the Bible. God wants his people to know about this plan and prepares them to recognize and receive the gift of the Messiah (“anointed one”) through prophets. A prophet is a person who listens with his or her whole heart to God’s message, and shares it not only with the people of Israel, but with us today.
In the Level 1 atrium, we will enjoy the messianic prophecies and what they tell us about Jesus. In Level 2, the children may synthesize the prophecies from Level 1, and hear new prophecies that speak of preparation and Parousia (the time to come when “God will be all in all”). In Level 3, we will add more prophecies about the Parousia, and consider how Christians share with Jews a common hope for the Messiah and the Kingdom of God.
Advent is a wonderful time to have family discussions about these scripture verses, since many will be heard in church as we approach Christmas (check www.lectionary.net for this week’s readings). If you have an Advent wreath, light one candle for each Sunday in Advent that has passed, then begin the reading (older children may want to read aloud). The messages of the prophets prepare us to meet Jesus for life in the Kingdom today and in the Parousia. Look for the clues!
Listed below are prophecies that we read in the atrium. In Level 1 only one or two prophecies are introduced each year, over a three year cycle. More may be covered in Level 2 or 3. Check the bulletin or with your child’s catechist to find out which prophecies your child will hear this Advent.
Level 1 Prophecies:
Isaiah 9:2 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.…”
Isaiah 9:6 “…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 7:14 “… the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
Micah 5:2 “But you O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah;…”
Numbers 17:24a “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”
Level 2 Prophecies
Same as Level 1 (the children can compare and synthesize these) plus:
Isaiah 40:3-5 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.…’”
Isaiah 11:1-3 “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse.…”
Isaiah 11:6-9 “The wolf shall live with the lamb.…”
Level 3 Prophecies (Messianic)
Same as Level 1 and 2 plus:
Isaiah 35:5-7 “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped….”
Isaiah 53:4-7 “…upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.…”
Isaiah 60:1-3 “Arise, shine; for your light has come….”
Isaiah 60: 4-6 “…they all gather together, they come to you….”
Isaiah 60:21 “Your people shall be righteous, they shall possess the land forever….”
Isaiah 60:19-20 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day….”
Ezekiel 34:11-16 “…I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out….”
Ezekiel 34: 23-25 “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David….”
Jeremiah 31:31-34 “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel….”