Season of Sundays: December 3, 2017 – First Sunday of Advent

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

Readings for December 3, 2017 – First Sunday of Advent:

  • Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • Mark 13:33-37

“…we are the clay and you are the potter…” (Isaiah 64:7)

We are God’s work, which is both comforting and challenging.

Teaching for Primary Grades:

  1. Bring modeling clay to class and give a handful to each child. Tell the students to roll and pack the clay while you tell them about potters. Describe how potters work to shape clay into special forms. Ask students if they have ever watched a potter work. Show them samples of finished pottery. Now tell them to shape something out of their clay. As they work, explain that when the clay doesn’t shape up the way the potter wants it to, the potter mashes it down and starts again. The children can do that with their clay, too. Display the finished works of art.
  2. The prophets of Israel teach us that God is the potter and we are the clay. God works to shape us into the best we can be. Use the last sentence of today’s first reading as a prayer. Teach the song “Abba, Father” by Carey Landry.
    Let children take their artwork home as a reminder that God is always shaping them.

Teaching for Intermediate Grades:

1. Today is the beginning of Advent, and Isaiah, known for his messianic prophecies, teaches that we are like clay in the hands of God, the potter. Bring clay to class so your students can mold images of people who prepared the way for Jesus to come. Dividing the children into groups of three or four, let them work together to prepare “Messiah scenes” such as:
a. Names and descriptions of several prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others
b. John the Baptist, the Jordan River, desert images
c. Angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, cousin Elizabeth
d. Descriptions of Israel’s patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph
e. Religious symbols of the waiting Jews: Ark of the Covenant, rainbow, crown, Ten Commandments, star of David,
2. When children finish creating their clay scenes, display them in an “Advent corner.” Light an Advent wreath and sing an Advent hymn.

Teaching for Secondary Grades:

1. The Church provides beautiful Scripture readings during the Advent season. Reading from the Book of Isaiah, especially chapters 9, 11, 40–45, 60, 61, and 65:17-25, can be very comforting. Provide a list of messianic readings that students can reflect on for the next few weeks.
2. To review reading Scripture reference notations, list citations on the board and give every student a Bible. Today’s first reading provides a good example: Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7. A chapter number follows the book title. A colon separates chapter and verses. The “b” means the second part of the designated verse. A comma means the reader is meant to skip to the next designated verse. The semicolon indicates the end of a set of verses; the number following it is a chapter. The dash means all the verses between the given numbers. Put other examples on the board, using a variety of notations. Also familiarize the students with book abbreviations. Most Bibles list these in the front. End this exercise by reading today’s Isaiah passage and sing “Abba, Father” (by Carey Landry).

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.