by Karen Hilfman Millson




~ Article in Mandate Magazine Article November 2010 ~



Theme for Advent – Creating a World of Peacefor use in a Kid’s Church Session, a Youth Group,

or an Intergenerational Advent Preparation Workshop.

This outline is based on the Small Group Model. BACKGROUND OF HOW THE THEME DEVELOPED IN ONE COMMUNITY

In the summer of 2008 we did a Summer Day Camp at St. Paul’s in Orillia around the theme,“Creating A World of Peace.” It was based on Carolyn Pogue’s book A New Day which includes fiveof her delightful fables on peace and justice that challenge the way we see the world. We also used some of Carolyn’s resources in the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum where we found stories filled with hope and inspiration about activities of peace and justice by children and youth.  Theyincluded the work of: Craig Kielburger through Free the Children and a program called Ryan’s Wells that began with seven-year-old Ryan Hreljac who raised money for a well in Africa. (See websites below.)



We planted a Peace Pole, one of over 200,000 in the world, that says “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four languages and faces the four directions We still place river stones at its base to indicate ourongoing recommitment to build a world of peace. The stones are always available, though specificinvitations are extended to place a stone committing to the way of peace after services that focus on peace and after celebration of life services.



On Thanksgiving weekend in 2008, we created our “Imagine Wall” – imagining the way the world will be when the power that reigns is love. People of all ages were invited to create peacebanners, brainstorm images and words that reflect the world at peace, write poetry, createcollages, add quotes, and bring in good news stories from the newspaper of ways that peace is being created in the world. People cut out shapes of their hands and wrote messages of peace on


them to go around the words of one of our kid’s choir songs that says that we are all a small partof the world and if we walk hand in hand we can make a powerful difference. The collage of hands united is still up as part of our Imagine Wall.



Kid’s Church Workshop Rotation also focussed on the theme with the following foci: Building a World of Peace means . . . 1) No One Goes Hungry. . . 2) We Celebrate Diversity . . . 3) Saying “No” to Bullies. . . 4) I Discover Peace Inside Me . . . 5) Caring for the Earth. . . 6) We Celebrate Each Day.



Below are some resources that we have used. Each section can last for as long as time allows with different options to fit the leader and the group.  These suggestions have been used with kids as young as age 6 up through teens to adults by choosing options or modifications appropriate to thegroup.



TO BEGIN: Commitment to Healthy Life-Giving Community

I invite you to offer your name into the circle if you are willing to be in community with each otherin such a way that we are:

1)respectful of our self and each other,

2)willing to listen with our hearts, expecting to hear the goodness within each other, and

3)be present to this time together so that the love and creativity that is in each of us can beshared.



If you are willing to be in community in such a way, I invite you to offer your name into the circle.

Leader models by saying their name….




I invite you to close your eyes, or look down at a place in front of you, and reflect for a fewmoments about a time when someone was kind to you. After they have had a few moments to remember ask: How did it make you feel? Let them think about that for a moment, and then: Iinvite you to remember a time when you were kind to someone. (pause) How did that made you feel?


Share your reflections with the whole group or in pairs on how kindness feels.




I invite you to name aloud or in the silence of your hearts:

o some things you are grateful for…..(pause)

o situations or people you are concerned about & want to surround with compassion and light…..(pause)

o words to describe the experience of the power of love that is God (energy, joy, hope . . .)


We light this candle to remind us of the light that is within us that we are called to share, so thatthe power of love in the world will grow.




John the Baptist calls us to prepare the way—to make room—for the presence of God’s love in this world.  He bases that call on the Isaiah Vision (see Luke 3. 3-6).



Images of the Isaiah Vision (see Isaiah 2, 11, 35, 40 ….) are of caring for the earth, of all peopleliving in peace, and of how it will be with children leading us:



They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,and their spears into pruning-hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,neither shall they learn war any more.



The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,and a little child shall lead them.



Waters shall break forth in the wilderness,and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,and the thirsty ground springs of water;

A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way.



In the gospel we hear Jesus say that the Kin-dom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with flour until all of it had risen.



At summer day camp (where kids ranged from 3 to 13) we acted this out by miming: placing thetiniest seed into our hands, stirring it, then raising our hands into the air, like the dough. Weobserved together that it is by our tiny acts of compassion being mixed into everyday life that werise together into wholeness and peace.



OPTIONS TO ENGAGE WITH THE THEME (use as many as time allows):

1)Begin by Brainstorming:



o What is the world like when we live love or when we live the Isaiah Vision?

o What is the world like when we don’t live love or when we don’t live the Isaiah Vision?

2)Drama Option:



This provides the kids with the opportunity to try out different options in response to lifesituations. I had one youth group who wanted to do this every week. The leader gives a scenario and the kids act out two different responses to the situation—one skit of when the way of love and compassion is followed, and one of what it is like when it is not followed.



Possible life situations or scenarios: a) there is a new kid at school, b) someone is being bullied, c) you have a choice between a new gadget or giving your money to the church for social services, d) someone gives you back too much change at a store ….



Divide into groups if possible so there is an audience to see the skits, or the leader alone can bethe audience. After seeing the skits, talk about: a) what each response felt like, and b) what theconsequences might be if they make a choice that lets caring in.



3)Art Option: This could be the beginning of an Imagine Wall.



Ahead of time cut blue or green bristol board, enough for each person, into a large circle and collect material for collages: magazines, calendars, markers, sparkles, wool, computer & Internetaccess for words and images.



Everyone creates a collage or mandala of the way the world will be when we live in peace – which is not bland but filled with creativity & beauty & connection.



Or you can do posters where ½ is the way world is without love and ½ is the way the world is with love which brings peace (which includes creation).



4)Video Options for Discussion: (available through internet)



Foundation for Global Community The Wombat, a one-minute video that captures the message of the symposium “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” that we are all one with only oneplanet and we need to get along and share.



Planet Atlantic We’ll Find a Way Music Video on YouTube, a song and music video about how we’ll find a way through the environmental devastation one heart at a time.

Awakening the Dreamer Changing the Dream symposium trailer



5)Cooperative Games & Circle Dances Google for suggestions



Working together helps to create a world of peace—a great way for little ones to engage.



CLOSING: gather around peace candle

I invite you to take a moment to think about how you can help to create a world of peace onemoment at a time ……



I now invite you to offer a word or an intention into the circle that we want to claim as a blessingfor our journey for ourselves and for one another. (examples might be hope, to see where there is goodness, to listen to our inner wisdom)



Sing refrain of Voices United #649 Walk With Me



Or sing We Shall Live in Peace & We Shall Learn to Love to tune of We Shall Overcome.



Or say the text of Voices United #87 I Am the Light of the World or #586 We Shall Go Out With Hope of Resurrection, which both talk about our ministry as Christians.



I invite everyone to take a river stone (in the basket you have arranged) and place it by the peacecandle as a sign of your commitment to live in such a way that you are part of creating a world of peace.



We blow out the candle and watch the smoke rise. It rises like our prayers that go out before us for a world of wholeness, blessing us with the courage we need.





The Rev. Karen Hilfman Millson of St. Paul’s in Orillia is a facilitator of “Awakening the Dreamer,Changing the Dream” Symposium whose goal is to “create a human presence on earth that is ecologically sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just.”