Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Meditation with Children: Isaiah 9:1 (plus a craft idea and template!)

Public domain photo courtesy of
I love sharing the meditation on Isaiah 9:2 (or Isaiah 9:1 in some Bibles) with the children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium. It is the passage that says "The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light."   This passage and its meditation have enthralled me since I first heard it in my Level I CGS training nine years ago.  I decided to share it with my catechism class this last week.  I'm never sure how the class will react, since they are so used to "workbook/textbook" religion and seem to do best when we are physically moving around.  We haven't done a meditation yet and I wasn't sure how they would react.  However, their rapt attention and responses showed me that this passage speaks deeply to all children!

Thought I would share some bits and pieces about the meditation, in case you would like to try it with your children or your catechism class.  This isn't quite the same presentation as I would give in the atrium because the classroom setup isn't as conducive to that presentation.  For example, I'm not allowed to light candles in our classroom, so I need to tailor the presentation a bit because of that.

For the meditation you will need a Bible, a painting of the prophet Isaiah and a handmade prayer card (8" x 14" or larger is good) that also says the verse (see my example below).  If you are doing this at home, you will also need a candle, snuffer, matches and place to put spent matches.

With my catechism class, I began the meditation by telling the kids we were going to do some "deep thinking and pondering" today.  I don't usually do this in the atrium since the kids (except the newest, youngest ones) are used to doing meditations.

We discuss darkness--what does the word "darkness" mean?  What does it mean to be "dark"?  We might turn off the lights and ask if it is dark.  (In our room, it wasn't because there was some light streaming in from the windows.)  I ask them to cover their eyes with their hands.  Is that dark, or do they see some light peeking in?  I ask them to close their eyes and then cover their eyes.  Is that dark, or do they still see some light?

I ask them to imagine darkness with no light at all.  How does that feel?  Scary?

We then discuss "light" -- what it means and what it is.  When I think the children have a good grasp of the concept of light, we compare "darkness" and "light" and I ask them how each situation makes them feel. 

I then pick up the picture of the prophet Isaiah while telling them that today we are going to read a Bible verse about darkness and light.  I explain to them that it was written by a man named Isaiah, who was a prophet. I show them the picture of Isaiah and we talk briefly about prophets and prophesies.

At this point in the atrium, I would light the candle and pick up my Bible.  I would then slowly read the passage once:

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." 

I then sit quietly for a few moments to give it a chance to sink in.  I then tell them I also have a prayer card that has this Bible passage, and show them this prayer card:

I re-read it slowly and we discuss darkness and light again.  I follow the children's lead, asking questions based on their answers. For example, in Wednesday's catechism class they thought the "great light" might be the sun, or perhaps a bright star like the star of Bethlehem.  I sprinkle their responses with comments like "I wonder?"  Or I might say "what else could the prophet be saying?"   I never really mention Jesus but do emphasize that Isaiah's prophesies were inspired by God.

It was truly amazing to watch the Holy Spirit work in the kids.  All the sudden, one girl's face lit up with understanding and she said "THE LIGHT IS JESUS!!"  And a boy's face lit up as he said "AND THE PEOPLE ARE US!!!!"

I will usually then suggest what a wonderful gift that God gave us when he gave us this light Jesus so we never have to walk in the darkness again.

At this point, one of the kids asked if we could sing the song "Christ is Light."  Again, the Holy Spirit at work, since this is a song I just taught them a few weeks ago.  After we sang it, I taught them another song, "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light."  But any song about Christ as the light of the world would be appropriate.

To finish reinforce the lesson, we did a very simple craft.  I gave the kids an electronic pillar candle (purchased for $1 at Dollar Tree) and a picture of Isaiah along with the Bible verse.  The kids removed the label on the pillar candle, trimmed down the verse to fit their candle, then taped it to their candle. After everyone was finished, they turned on their candles and we turned off the lights.  The effect of the light shining through the picture of Isaiah and the Bible passage was beautiful, and the room was filled with excited kids saying "cool!"  "awesome!"  (Much to my delight!)  We then sang our two "Light" songs again by candlelight.

Here are some photos of our electronic pillar candles with the Bible passage and Isaiah's picture on them:


If you would like to make this craft, you can upload the candle paper for free from here. 

If you try this with your kids, please share your results in the comments section.  I would love to hear about it!

Note:  If you have any problems with this upload, please send a note to me at caswrite at yahoo dot com.  When looking at the image created by Google docs, I can't tell if the original size was retained, or if Google docs reduced the size of the candle paper.


  1. Cheryl, this is a beautiful Advent mediatation for children. Your poster is beautiful, as is your candle. thank you for the step by step guide on how to conduct this meditation. Just your heart just burst to see the Holy Spirit's action in children's hearts?

  2. Hi Cheryl, What a beautifully thought out devotional! Thank you for giving us some new ideas!

  3. Oh, I love this! Thank you so much for linking it up at Training Happy Hearts and for leading me to your blog. Now I have another place to dive into when my children actually offer me Mommy Time. Blessings!

  4. I found this so beautiful when you posted it last year and I am determined to do it with my kids this year. I think I will try it either this weekend or next. Thanksgiving is already over for us, so we can think about "getting ready" now. Thanks so much for linking up!!