Season of Sundays: December 24, 2017 – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.

Readings for December 24, 2017: Fourth Sunday of Advent 

  • Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a-16
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

“May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Mary trusted God.

Teaching for Primary Grades:

  1. Tell the children to imagine Mary on Christmas Eve as she thinks back to what brought her to this moment. Help the children recall when an angel appeared to Mary to ask her to be the mother of Jesus. Use cards with individually printed words to draw out discussion of what she might have been feeling: surprise, doubts, fear, excitement, awe. When Mary said yes to God, even with her mixed feelings, she showed great trust.
  2. Provide materials for card-making and direct the children to write and decorate a message to Mary. They can congratulate her on the new baby, thank her for the courage to say yes to God, or ask her to help them know her Son better. Display finished cards around the classroom or in a specially prepared Advent/Christmas corner.

Teaching for Intermediate Grades:

  1. Gather the children in their Advent corner one last time. Light all four candles on the wreath and explain that this is an unusually short Advent season this year because the fourth Sunday is also Christmas Eve. Invite the group who created the scene with Mary, Joseph, and the angel to read this Sunday’s Gospel and talk about their clay images (see the lesson for the first Sunday of Advent).
  2. Discuss the challenges Mary faced when she decided to say yes to God. Ask the students if they have ever been in a situation where they had to make a hard choice. How did they decide on the best thing to do? Did they feel that God was with them when they made their choice? Sing Carey Landry’s “Hail Mary: Gentle Woman.”

Teaching for Secondary Grades:

  1. Have a student read Sunday’s Gospel. Then invite the class to reflect on Mary’s experience up to the moment of giving birth. Tell them to write in their journals three descriptive words or phrases to describe Mary’s character. Tell the story of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth after her encounter with the angel Gabriel. Her Magnificat during that visit gives insight into what she felt after saying yes to God. Invite the students to silently reflect while you play John Michael Talbot’s “Holy Is His Name.” Then ask students to write several more descriptive words or phrases for Mary.
  2. Taking another few moments for quiet reflection, encourage students to think about their own willingness to trust God no matter what they might feel God is calling them to do. Instruct them to choose one or two of their descriptive words for Mary which they think could also describe themselves and write a paragraph about how those characteristics might help them to do God’s will.

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.