These are the 8.5x11 versions of our popular 2016 Advent Coloring Posters. When you purchase this digital download, you'll receive two versions of the coloring designs. One is the same design that you will find on our large Coloring Posters. As 8.5x11 coloring pages, they tend to be quite detailed, and they may be too detailed for our youngest coloring friends.
That is why we are also including a simplified design as 8.5x11 printouts that you can use to still create the larger illustration by putting them all together.
When you purchase these files, you'll receive a .ZIP file that includes both versions of the coloring pages. The first four files can be printed out on 8.5x11 paper, and, if possible, the final fifth poster should be printed out on an 11x17 piece of paper. If that's not possible, there is an alternate version that splits up the designs onto two different 8.5x11 sheets of paper. There are instructions that come along with the digital downloads, so everything should be clear.
Theology Behind the Coloring Pages
We believe that these coloring pages will not only create a beautiful piece of artwork for your congregation or home, but they will also spark important conversations throughout Advent.
First, a few important notes:
Inclusive Language: We strive to create all of our resources here at Illustratey Ministry using inclusive language. We don't do this just to be politically correct, but because we believe it's important theologically to not continue to use only masculine and patriarchal language for a God who surpasses all of those categories.
Inclusive Language in Isaiah 9:6 specifically: We love Handel's Messiah and because many of us grew up listening to that, or because we heard the King James Version of the text growing up in churches, we might be more familiar (and maybe more comfortable) with using the names of Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. However, because of our commitment to inclusive language, we wanted to find a different translation for those names, which we did in the Inclusive Hebrew Scriptures. The names that we use in these pages are as follows: Wonderful Counselor, Strength of God, Eternal Protector and Champion of Peace.
Each coloring page corresponds to a different set of characters from the birth story and includes a different name from Isaiah 9:6 (with all of the names being wrapped around the candle in the fifth page). I'll share a bit more about each page below, but first, we think a brief theological note from Walter Brueggemann's book Names for the Messiah might be helpful:
"Christian have claimed from their beginnings that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures...Jesus did not replace or deny the expectations of a messiah previously told. He fulfilled them...Isaiah 9:2-7 is a well-known oracle, a divine utterance...that uses four royal titles...As we ponder the use of those titles with reference to Christmas and the birth of Jesus, two things become clear. First, in the witness to Jesus by the early Christians in the New Testament, they relied heavily on Old Testament 'anticipations' of the coming Messiah. But second, Jesus did not fit those 'anticipations' very well, such that a good deal of interpretive imagination was required in order to negotiate the connection between the anticipation and the actual bodily, historical reality of Jesus.
The oracle of Isaiah 9:2-7 is well known among us because of Handel's Messiah. The oracle did not anticipate or predict Jesus. There is no doubt that it pertained to the eighth century BCE, the time of Isaiah the prophet. While the oracle might have been utilized to announce and celebrate the birth of a new royal prince in Jerusalem, namely Hezekiah, it is more probable that it pertained to the coronation of the new king." (Brueggemann, Walter. Names for the Messiah: an Advent Study.)
Okay, so that was more than a brief note, but we think it's helpful in framing how we are approaching these pages theologically. Now to a few details about each page:
Wonderful Counselor: The Magi (three wise men) are paired with the name Wonderful Counselor. The Magi were wise people and sought to learn from the stars. The verse that accompanies the image is "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom." Being able to be a wonderful counselor is more than just attaining knowledge, or knowing the science of stars...but rather it is about something deeper: wisdom.
Strength of God: The shepherds are paired with the name Strength of God. While you certainly would have to be strong and capable to be a shepherd, the image of a shepherd isn't what you would traditionally assume with names like Strength of God or Mighty God. But rather, because Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" - we should expect Jesus to turn things upside-down at times, and so we see the image of a shepherd being used to describe God.
Eternal Protector: Mary and Joseph are paired with the name Eternal Protector. As they seek to parent and protect their newborn child, one of the ways we think about God is that of an eternal mother/father/parent. And yet, while God seeks to protect and watch over us, Jesus also wants to have a more intimate relationship with us than just standing above us and protecting us. Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto me."
Champion of Peace: Finally, the angels are paired with the name Champion of Peace. The angels came to announce Jesus' birth to the shepherds, and to bring a word of peace. And yet, Christ, who is the champion of peace, brings peace to us in ways that often surprise and confound us. Jesus says, "My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives."
Finally, the fifth coloring page depicts the celebration and announcement of the birth of the Christ child: "Joy to the world! For unto us, a child is born!" And then highlights the four names, along with Messiah, that wrap around the candle.