Sunday, November 27, 2011

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! (Advent plans and week 1)

We are going on almost ten years now of living the beauty of the liturgical calendar.  Like we have shared before, we celebrate Lent in preparation for Easter.  Very similarly, we celebrate Advent to help us prepare for Christmas, the birth of our Lord. I remember our first two Advent traditions were the Jesse tree and choosing to celebrate Saint Nicholas' feast day rather than having Santa Claus come and take away all the glory from Jesus on His birthday.  We are so thankful and blessed to have continued with those traditions and have kept adding on slowly year by year.  Here some pictures and more explanation on some of the Advent traditions we do with our family....

  • Advent wreath - We light a new candle each week during our mealtime.  Here is a video that shows the song we include as well.  After listening to it, I realized we messed up a word - "all the world" should be "everyone".  Oh well, we'll get it right tomorrow morning at breakfast time!  We learned this song from Elizabeth Foss' blog last year.  Also, as a forewarning, it is dark...  we keep the lights off as we light the candle(s) so that from week to week, we recognize how much brighter it becomes since we are closer and closer to celebrating the birth of the Light of the World. 

  • Jesse tree - I don't even know where I found the ornaments that we use today, because it was over ten years ago that I made them.  I found them online somewhere - all I did was print them (didn't even color them since our only child at the time was a baby and couldn't color), glued them on cardstock, laminated them, and tied a pretty ribbon on them - viola!  You can print out ornaments at many places online, but here are two of my favorite blogs that are graciously sharing their creations....A Holy Experience and Paper Dali.  Also, similar to our Jesus tree that we use in Lent, Shower of Roses has created felt ornaments for her Jesse tree.  What a blessing it is to see the lineage of Jesus and read about all those who were preparing for His birth.   

  •  Family read-aloud - This year, we are changing things up a bit for this one.  The last two years, we read Jotham's Journey as a family.  My children know the story so well, that we thought it was agood idea to try a new story.  So, we surprised them today with a different read-a-loud that has also has a chapter each day to be read until Christmas.  I can tell so far that they are going to love it!  
  • Magnetic advent candles (new this year) - We are blessed to have a giftshop at our church, so we picked up these this year.  However, I did notice that they have different names for the candles from week to week compared to what we've been doing for years.  For example, they have week 1 as "faith", but we've always called the first candle the "hope" candle.  We'll still use it but stick with our old names. 

  • Paper Advent Chain - Here's another very simple printable that includes an action to be done each day during Advent by removing a chain and doing what it says. 

  • Empty manger to fill - For every good deed done, we will put a piece of straw (crinkle paper) into a manger for Jesus.  On Christmas morning, our children will open up the baby Jesus that fits in this manger.  Hopefully by then, it will be nice and soft and filled with all our loving deeds done for Him!  

  • A purple present to open every day - I wrap Advent/Christmas books (either ones that we own or ones we've checked out from the library) for the kids to open a book a day to be read to them on Advent or Christmas.  Saint Nicholas brings books each year, so we are gradually adding to our library. I have always just gone to Jessica or Elizabeth for ideas on which books to check out or buy.  Happy reading!!  
  •  We also have three nativities around the house, where we will wait to place baby Jesus in them until Christmas.
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