Christmas is rapidly approaching. Advent is the time leading up to Christmas when we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We need to make plans now because advent is just days away! Advent is one of the best ways to make sure the true meaning of Christmas doesn’t escape our children. They only open presents for a few minutes. They probably only play with them for a few hours. But spending a focussed time each day on the advent, really prepares their hearts for Christmas.
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:2-3 NIV
While the idea of advent is far from new, there are many ways and new twists on how to prepare for Christ this Christmas. You may pick your favorite and repeat it to really make sure your children are understanding. Christmas traditions are special and dear to the heart. Or may want to try something different each year, depending on how old your children are and what you think they may need.
We plan on making our advent part of our homeschool day, as it can easily incorporate reading, art, and even writing. You may also choose to do it in the evenings for family worship.
Here is a summary of my favorite choices for advent:
Truth in the Tinsel
If you have little ones in preschool, early elementary, or even younger, this is a fantastic Advent activity. Truth in the Tinsel walks you through the Christmas story with sweet scriptures and simple ornaments. You can get fancy with lots of great ideas found online. Or you can print the simple version to color. Then hang the ornaments and you are all set!
The Names of Jesus
I cannot say that I have read Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu personally, but I love the idea of focussing on the names of Jesus for advent. What better way to prepare our heart for Jesus, than to really know and understand who he is? Asheritah is also offering beautiful, free, printable ornaments that coordinate with the book.
The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree is a look at Jesus’ family tree. In it’s simplest simplest version, you can read the scriptures that describe the lineage of Jesus. Most people make a coordinating Christmas ornament to hang on a special Christmas tree. (Though we just add ours to our big tree because of space.) This can be as simplistic, or as complicated, as you choose to make it. You can find all kinds of sample ornaments online for each scripture passage. Some people even host Jesse Tree ornament exchanges. You can check out my Jesse Tree Pinterest Board for a collection of ideas to get you started.
If you do choose to do the Jesse Tree, Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas is a wonderful treasury to help your family contemplate the meaning behind the Jesse Tree. She has a way of making you think about things in a whole new light. We first read this last year. It was such a blessing that we plan to read it every year.
Another great way to share the Jesse Tree verses is to read about them in The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. If you don’t have this Bible storybook, you need it. Most adults love it just as much, if not more than the children. This storybook explains how each story points to Jesus. Reading it gives you those aha! moments. You end up saying, “Oh! That’s why that Bible story is in there!”
I’m extra excited this year because I just discovered The Jesus Storybook Bible Collector’s Edition. I’m going to get if for my daughter who is learning to read so that she can read along with it on her own. (She loves to lay in bed at night and look at the pictures in her Bibles.) There are also DVDs that the whole family can enjoy. (We watch them on YouTube occasionally. Check out The Servant King. My kids call it “Stinky Feat”. It’s their favorite. I bet you can guess why!) Having the entire collection will be priceless!
However you decide to celebrate advent this year, may God bless your home and your family with the true spirit of Christmas, and hearts filled with Christ.
What does your family do for advent?
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