Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Infancy Narratives

Advent is the perfect time to introduce (or re-introduce) children to the person of Jesus.  In addition to geography works and prophecies, we spend a lot of time in Advent exploring the infancy narratives - the scripture that tells of the events surrounding Jesus' birth.  We aren't just telling cute baby stories or even just recalling historical events with the children. Instead we want to encourage the children to wonder at the mystery of incarnation - God loves humanity so much that God chose to become human and live as one of us. The infancy narratives teach us a lot about who Jesus is, and about how God works in the world.

Over the first three years in the Good Shepherd Atrium the children become familiar with the Angel Gabriel's visit to Mary to tell her she will be mother to Jesus, Mary's visit to Elizabeth, the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Shepherds, Jesus' presentation at the Temple when he meets Simeon and Anna, and the visit of the Wise Men. We have many beautiful materials to help even the youngest children extend their meditation on these rich narratives - each includes 3-D figures and a simple environment to explore.  Often an adult (or another child) will read the scripture while the child moves the figures.

This week in the True Vine Atrium we celebrated the coming of Christmas by looking at the infancy narratives as a whole.  It was a beautiful experience, as the children brought together all that they have learned over their years in the atrium, and meditated once again on these beloved stories. We focused on the theme of the light of Christ and noticed how it spread - first to Mary, then to Elizabeth and John, to the shepherds, and to even to the wise men who traveled from so far away. I was amazed at the children's ability to sit in quiet joy and contemplate scripture, particularly at this exciting time of year!

As we grow close to Christmas, I wish you joy in quiet moments with your family.  Be alert for the light of Christ as the news of Jesus' birth spreads to you and yours this holiday season!


  1. The children love to hear the stories and work with the infancy narratives. They like to listen for the words and phrases that are also used in the Christmas pageant since most of them participate, especially the phrase "Do not be afraid".

  2. I've so thoroughly enjoyed your lovely photos and posts about your Advent activities. I loved presenting the infancy narratives and experiencing the stillness and wonder of Christmas in the atrium. I added a link to your Advent articles in the Living Montessori Now Blog Frog discussion about Montessori-based religious education at http://theblogfrog.com/1378313/forum/45386/montessori-based-religious-education.html

  3. I love reading your blog. As a fellow Catechist, I find your work inspiring!
    Can you tell me where you got the Florentine paper for the back of the triptychs?
    Do you have any advice about making the triptychs?
    Where did you get the images for the front?
    Are they taken from fine art or are they hand painted?
    Did you seal them with ModPodge?
    Any advise you can offer would be much appreciated!
    Advent Peace!

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading and for your comment! Lets see...we bought the triptychs premade from a woodworker and had different people hand paint them (catechists and parishioners). This was years ago, but my memory is that we had photos from our training but also asked the painters to contemplate the scripture, look at classical art and be creative. I don't think the painted scenes are sealed but the back is decoupaged. I don't remember where we got this paper but I know you can buy it at: http://www.eyeitalia.com/ and we have actually found some at discount stores like TJ Maxx. I hope this is helpful! Where are you located and what levels are you working with? It is so fun hearing from you! Let me know if I can help in any other way!

    2. Thanks SO much for your helpful explanation, Leslie. I am serving as the Level II Catechist at Holy Trinity-Chatham in Chapel Hill, NC. Our little parish has both Level I and Level II. We are blessed to have some cheerful and generous woodworkers in our church. I really love reading your blog and studying your photos. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Okay, a woodworker at our church made the triptychs and I have the Italian paper for the backs. Now comes the daunting task of painting the inside scenes. Do you or anyone have any close-up photos of each one taken from the front that you could email to me that I might use as a guide?

    1. Hi again! I can email you photos to consider as you do your material making,although there are a million ways to make them and none are "right!" Do you have a subscription to the online material manuals from the national association? I have been finding the photos they include of materials from Rome to be particularly inspiring and meaningful! Shoot me an email at education@cometochristchurch.org with which narratives you're working on and I'll send along some photos. Wishing you many blessings with your work!


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