Advent is the season of waiting. Watching, listening and imagining what it must have been like to anticipate the birth of Jesus. The world was harsh, his parents were fleeing from violence and Jesus was born a refugee, not in a hospital, but in a barn used by animals. Yet he came as the light of the world, the son of God and changed the course of history.

All of which is mind-blowing. But if you’re six years old and counting down the sleeps to Christmas day, you are so over the whole waiting thing! So how can we as Christians help our little ones to make sense of Christmas, to enrich that time of waiting and let them know that Christmas is even more exciting than the stocking at the end of the bed or the presents round the tree.

What if Christmas isn’t like the Christmases in the films and story books?

And what about the children for whom Christmas isn’t anything like the Christmases in all the films and story books? Sadly, especially today, at home and across the world, Christmas represents despair, a reminder of all the things that have changed or that aren’t possible.

At All Saints in Falmouth, they understand the wait as well as the weight of the Christmas season, what it can mean and not mean for our children. So they spent a week in December enchanting the town’s primary school children with the most magical gift of all, hope.

Hope through the eyes of a child

Hope in the excitement of dressing up as three wise men (or women), shepherds, Mary or Joseph and searching through the church to find the star, gold, frankincense, myrrh and then, finally a baby.

The hopefulness in making Christmas cards for loved ones with no one saying you couldn’t use that many stickers on one card!

The hope in making a Christmas decoration with more stickers, lots of glue and classmates to laugh with.

And hope in Godly Play. In a quiet corner of the church, where the wonderous story is gently unfolded and the children are drawn in. Putting themselves in the story and wondering what it must have smelt like with all the animals, how it felt to be a young mother, travelling far away from all you’ve known, waiting for the baby to be born. Imagining the sight of kings and shepherds bowing down to your newly born son, and how it was when the waiting was over.

Working their Christmas socks off

Transforming Mission team worked their Christmas socks off! With Prayer Co-ordinator Simon Chatten dressing up in a blonde wig (that sort of suited him!) first as an angel then a shepherd, enthusing his charges with excitement of the Christmas treasure trail. Families and Schools Leader Jane Wheeler patiently re-telling the Christmas story with beautiful wooden crafted figures and tactile sand. Pastoral Coordinator Revd Ben Morgan-Lundie, wrist deep in glue, sparkly stickers and scissors cutting out holly shapes and a whole team of volunteers from New Street Church pitching in to bring the Christmas story alive.

Fun for an hour or so but the team rolled out their Advent Adventure over four days, morning and afternoon, for five schools. Last year just King Charles School ventured to the church, but this year they looked after five schools including St Francis, Marlborough, Falmouth Academy and Mabe School.

Blessing the teachers too

And it wasn’t just the children who were blessed. Teachers have had a tough couple of years, having to work in ways they never expected as the pandemic and lockdowns rolled on. So, it was lovely when one teacher said, “This has been the best afternoon of my year because it was all done for me, the children were learning, and I could relax”.

It was indeed a special time. A lovely reminder than in all the frenzy of Christmas, the present buying, the worries over spending too much and stress of trying to make sure everyone has a good time, there is a wonderful truth at his heart. That through the eyes of children we can discover again that God became man and Jesus came into our world to shine a light that even in the toughest of days can never be dimmed.