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Nativity Lent for Children

Thomas

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We held a Nativity Lent workshop for children in our parish and I was sadly distressed that out of our entire parish, only my three grandchildren attended. :-[

At the workshop, the children were given the opportunity to do a variety of activities:
1) an 40 Advent Calendar covering the entire Orthodox Nativity Lent.
2)Stories of St Nicholas were told and they planted  a wheat candle garden in memory of St Nicholas and his philanthropy to the poor---the wheat garden if started around the 11-14 to 11-15 will show Green spouts by the feast of St Nicholas.  They then place on Nativity Eve a White votive in the "garden" symbolizing Christ the Light being born on Nativity.
3) They each made a bank to place their alms to give to Jesus as a birthday present. They were taught in very simple terms the principal of alms giving that so many times we , as adults, have never grasped fully.
4) They were given their first construction paper link of the "prayer chains" they can make over the next 40 days by writing dowen a person or an intention for others that they are praying for.  They can earn extra links by performing "acts of Mercy" and kindness to others. By the end of Nativity Lent, they will have a 40+ colorful prayer chain they can decorate their home with for the Nativity Feast.

Despite the lack of kids at the workshop---parents said they were too busy to come for this special learning and activity session--It was well worth it---my 10 year grandson has made a strong commitment to live a holy Nativity Lent and the younger grandsons age 4 and 5 already have asked to do extra chores to get money so they can give alms to Jesus. I think they have gotten off to a good start for Nativity Lent.

It is sad that we as parents and grandparents can seem to make time for baseball, football, soccer, and dance classes but have trouble fitting in church activities that are much more important to our children and grandchildren's lives. This Nativity Lent---think about it---have you  scheduled in time to go to the  Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos, St Nicholas, the Conception of the Theotokos, or even the Nativity Eve and Nativity Services or Are there things more important to you.  Think about what this teaches your children about priorities.

In Christ,
Thomas
 

Asteriktos

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Thomas,

A very good and sobering post.

my 10 year grandson has made a strong commitment to live a holy Nativity Lent and the younger grandsons age 4 and 5 already have asked to do extra chores to get money so they can give alms to Jesus
That is absolutely fantastic! If only we adults could apply the same type of zeal in bettering ourselves and helping (giving to) others.
 

chris

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Please don't be discouraged by having 3 participants in the workshop this year; be encouraged that you have 3 ambassadors to the rest of the parish to provide their witness of what they will be doing for this Lent.

Then, next year, you may get some more participants, and more the year after that, etc. Once the rest of the parish gets to hear and see the things your grandchildren are doing, others will want to do the same. Then, a few years from now, you can talk about the allegedly 'modest' turnout one year, and how everything has grown since then!
 

Meekle

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Thomas said:
This Nativity Lent---think about it---have you scheduled in time to go to the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos, St Nicholas, the Conception of the Theotokos, or even the Nativity Eve and Nativity Services or Are there things more important to you. Think about what this teaches your children about priorities.
Scheduling means nothing when your parents want you to grow up as a mindless anti-Orthodox automoton, but if they would let me go, I would :p Oh, and don't get discouraged that not mnay people came, it is a good program with good potential.
 

aurelia

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I realy like some of those ideas...I'm going to stash them and see if anyone is interested in something like that at our parish next season.  It would be great for JOY.
 

ytterbiumanalyst

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These are pretty good ideas (filing away for when our daughter's older...done).

Since this is our first Nativity Lent with children, I'm looking for some things we can do with Caitlin to celebrate the Christmas season (she'll be born about a week or so before it begins...maybe). Does anyone know of good baby books with the Orthodox story of St. Nicholas or some such thing?
 

Fr. George

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I'm glad ytterbiumanalyst resurrected this thread; now that I'm a youth director in a parish, I'd love to talk to whomever put on this activity at your parish, Thomas.  Hopefully they still have their notes 2 years later!
 
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I only wish that we had people to do this in our tiny parish, or even the ones over an hour away! My kids are not culturally Orthodox, we converted. I have yet to experience an opportunity like this for my children, and would love to focus truly on what the season is about. It is sad that only this many showed up, but take heart that there are many families that would have loved to participate in something like this.  Keep doing it, and open it to those in other jurisdictions. I have found I have to participate in book club and other things with the start up Antiochian parish here in town.  Our lovely Greek parish is elderly, and therefore they all think they are "done" carrying on the Faith.  They are lovely people, not at all used to the noise my brood makes.
 

Thomas

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I would be more than happy to e-mail you the large handout we give to families wanting ideas to do on Nativity Lent with their children.  It is a rather large file. PM me if you want it.

Thomas
 

Tabitha

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Thomas, does your church do any sort of St. Nicholas day celebration?  Our church tends to do this as an activity in the church as well as an outreach to our community.  Being so close to Western Christmas, many families are interested in any sort of activity that doesn't involve money and brings the family together...  We usually do a play with characters from St. Nicholas's life in various stages, from his mother to the girls he kept from slavery, to a fellow bishop at the Nicean Council.  It has become an event I personally look forward to (even without children!)  Also, we have a tree that people bring decorations for and everyone takes their shoes off to go into the church to hear the story and when the story is done, everyone comes out to find tangerines and chocolate coins in their shoes. :laugh: It really is quite fun, I can almost taste those little tangerines now...
 

Tabitha

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Thomas, please don't take offense, by the way, I think that it is admirable that your church did decide to take such endeavors with the children and it certainly appears to be a great foundation laid, even if it is only for three.... one can only imagine what it will be like for them when they get older.
 

Thomas

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Our parish which is about 12 years old has an annual St Nicholas Play on the Sunday after  December 6.  Some years it is a play about St Nicholas, other years it may be a medieval Christ mas play or Noah play, and some like this year is a traditional Yolka or nativity Play. This year we did not hold the children's workshop as they were busy getting the nativity Play ready---it even had special effects this year, a smoke machine created clouds for the Angels to make their visits and announcements to the joy of all who saw the play.  These plays are good hearted with a special message and often written by the kids themselves.

Thomas
 

Tabitha

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Thomas said:
it even had special effects this year, a smoke machine created clouds for the Angels to make their visits and announcements to the joy of all who saw the play.  These plays are good hearted with a special message and often written by the kids themselves.

Thomas
That sounds like quite a play!  I never cease to be amazed with the incredible ideas that children can come up with, although, I hope they weren't running the smoke machine. ;)  If you have any pictures of the play it would be great to see them.
 

Ian Lazarus

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A friend of mine and recent convert actually tried a variety of fasting recepies and served them as side dishes durring the feasting season, and then began removing the non fasting dishes one by one two weeks before the fast.  His daughter hardly noticed, and it was as seemless transition. 
 

Quinault

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I would love to hear how you constructed the Advent Calender, and the other activities you did. It sounds great.
 
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