Sunday, November 30, 2014

Celebrating Advent

When I was younger, all I knew of advent was chocolate calendars (we're from a very low church background!) Now that I have kids of my own, I've been on the hunt for some more meaningful ways to celebrate advent.

Here are some ideas I've found:

1. Ann Voskamp has a delightful little book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, which guides your family through daily biblical stories and images leading up to Christmas day. Alongside this book, you can also create a Jesse Tree - hanging various ornaments representing different biblical figures and events in the redemption story. There's a whole website devoted to making your own Jesse Tree, with free printable ornaments, gift tags, coloring pages, etc. Worth checking out!

2. Another idea I've heard of is to set up your nativity scene progressively, one set of figurines at a time, and saving baby Jesus for last. His arrival made all the more special on Christmas day!

3. Similarly, another twist on the nativity scene is to have the wisemen/magi start on one end of the house and journey closer and closer to baby Jesus as Christmas day draws closer.

4. From Rachel Held Evans, the "Pay attention" advent tree:

"Our focus will be on paying attention to the witness of the prophets, connecting them to the Christmas story and to our present longing for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. For my own Advent calendar, I'll be picking out key words from the biblical prophecies assigned to each week (Isaiah 64:1-9; Isaiah 40:1-11; Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; and 2 Samuel 7:1-16) and adding them to my "Pay Attention" Advent tree.  (I've gone ahead and filled out the first one for Sunday, Nov. 30.) Check InstagramFacebookand Twitter for the key words each day, as well as reflections on Advent, prophecy, and God-with-us." 
5. And if you have artistically inclined children, consider printing out some blank templates of this advent tree and providing crayons and markers to decorate one shape at a time until Christmas day. Proudly display the progress on the refrigerator!

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