Have you ever prepared for Christmas through Advent? It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The term comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." Typically, Advent begins on December 1 and counts down until December 25th. Some families build up to Christmas starting on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, but no matter when you start, I highly recommend that you involve your family in an advent tradition. In our times today, Christmas has become so secularized that the hope of the Christian celebration, Jesus, is put on the back burner.
I have two favorite ways to build up to Christmas: The 12 Days Until Christmas, A Sacred Christmas Through Song and Word and creating a Jesse Tree. The first one is on my website. I release one Scripture and one small portion of a holy song and send an email reminder to those who care to receive it. It begins on December 13th and ends on December 24th. It’s such a great reminder to be in the Word and to give praise to our Savior through the Word and song. Holy and traditional Christmas songs are an inspiration and give me focus.
The Jesse Tree is an old tradition based on Jesse, the father of David, and the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many websites and books that help create a Jesse Tree with specific ornaments for each day in Advent and the Bible story to match. It’s an excellent way to teach children the life of Jesus. I used the tradition ornaments in paper cut-out format the last two years, but this year I am going to use the format of the Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s amazing! The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and beautifully illustrated by Jago offers the perfect advent tree framework. They have put together an artful path through the Bible that shows how Jesus IS the story of the Bible. On their website, they have suggestions for using the Jesus Storybook Bible for advent and then I was hooked. Tomorrow is December 1st and my grandbabies and I are going to hang the first “ornament” (an image from the Jesus Storybook Bible printed, cut into a circle and laminated) on a metallic wall tree in my home. For 25 days, we will continue the process beginning with Creation and ending with Jesus in the manger. I highly recommend a day-by-day expectation process such a Advent and Jesse Trees to help us stay grounded in Who we worship.
I also heard a great interview with Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales and now Buck Denver Asks What is the Bible? He also highly recommends building up to Christmas and grounding our children in the spiritual intention. They are saturated with the secular, material Christmas, but Phil Vischer, in his very creative style has designed a specific episode of his Buck Denver series to discuss the sacred meaning of Christmas. It doesn’t matter what you use to prepare yourself or your children, the key word is to prepare. Spending less time shopping and more time in the Word may be just the gift of peace we all need.
May the Lord of grace and peace grant you and your family a very special and holy Christmas season.