Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
- Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
- John 1:6-8, 19-28
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me.” (Isaiah 61:1)
God sends prophets to give us direction and hope.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
1. When Isaiah announced, “The spirit of God is upon me,” he was aware of what God wanted him to announce to the people. Like John the Baptist, Isaiah was a prophet. Prophets could only know what God was saying to them by staying
in touch with God through prayer. Th e same is true for us. Encourage the children to pray often. Teach them a variety of ways to pray: talking and listening to God; sitting, kneeling, walking; asking for help; saying “I’m sorry”; praising God.
2. Modeling prayer for children is important. Provide space and time for prayer, formal and spontaneous, group and personal. Teach the children to enter into Scripture stories with their imaginations, to turn to God with every concern in their lives, to trust God’s love for them, and to talk to God like a friend.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
1. As in Isaiah’s time and centuries later in Jesus’ time, there are still people who are poor, captive, and brokenhearted. Light the Advent wreath and read Isaiah’s words from today’s first reading. Brainstorm who the poor, captive, and brokenhearted are today. List the children’s ideas on the board. Isaiah and Jesus both felt called to bring good news to such people. (Let the group who made clay figures of prophets point out Isaiah in the Advent corner.)
2. Invite the children to imagine they are speaking Isaiah’s words today. Slowly reread Isaiah 61:1-2. How can they know when the spirit of God is upon them? Discuss ways they can bring good news to people today who need comforting. Elicit specific ideas for each person or group listed on the board. Close with a prayer for the needy people in our world today and ask to receive the spirit of the Lord.
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
1. Th e reading from Isaiah today is an example of Old Testament prophecy that finds fulfillment in the New Testament. Read this to the class and then refer students to Luke 4:14-22. Jesus was very familiar with the Jewish Scriptures. When he chose to quote Isaiah in his hometown synagogue, he was announcing his own mission.
2. In the spirit of quiet Advent reflection, direct students to spend time writing in their journals. Encourage freewriting,
putting down whatever comes: phrases, sentences, images, answers, questions, impressions. Off er these reflection starters:
■What glad tidings do you want Jesus to bring to you?
■What kind of freedom do you need?
■What kind of does Jesus want you to have?
■What would a “year of favor” be like for you?
■ Is the spirit of God upon you? How do you feel it? For what mission are you being anointed?
Use Mary’s Magnificat as a closing prayer (see Luke 1:46-55)
Sr. Karen Berry is a Joliet Franciscan, a former teacher of high school religion and director of family programs of Religious Education, and currently a teacher of adult religion classes in several parishes in Tucson, Arizona.