Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Celebrating Advent

This year I wanted to celebrate Advent with our family. This is something that we haven't done before, even though I have had good intentions in years past. Thanks to the hard work and inspiration of my friend Lia, we have been spending time each night anticipating the coming of Emanuel, God with us. I had put a post on Facebook asking for advent ideas and Lia gladly passed on the following information that she put together for her own family. I was hoping she would post it on her blog, but she is the busy mom of 3 kids, including a new baby, so I asked her if I could post her great ideas on my blog. Thankfully she said yes.

We started our celebration on Sunday. EVEN IF you've missed a few days, it's not too late to join in!

A few notes from me:
You will notice after each of the dates, it says "Open Box 1 (2, 3,...)". Look for information on the boxes in the next post on my blog. We do not have an advent calendar and I have decided to skip this part for this year.

I have been keeping stuff pretty simple based on how old my kids are. You could do more or less depending on your family situation. We have been lighting the Advent candle after dinner. The first night I talked quite a bit about the candle, and now I see how much the kids remember about the candle. Then we read the day's verses (I printed them off, cut them in strips and the kids take turns each night pulling the strip out of my homemade holder) and talk about them briefly. We made a prayer chain (an idea you will read about) and one of the kids breaks off a name and we take turns praying for that person.

Lia is planning on sending me next weeks information as well and I will post it as soon as I get it. I am so glad she is willing to share these great ideas with all of us!

Here it is:

Week 1 – Isaiah 11:1-2, Jeremiah 23:5-6
Isaiah 11:1-2
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (NASB)

Jeremiah 23:5-6
"Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD,
"When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.

"In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness

Sunday November 29
Explain Advent – take out Advent Calendar – Start Wreath & Advent Candles
CANDLE ONE - Begin by lighting the first purple candle on the wreath. You will light this candle by itself for the entire first week of advent. The first purple candle is known as the prophecy/Hope candle. The color purple is a sign of penance and also represents the longing we have waiting for the birth of baby Jesus. Say aloud as you light the first candle, "Jesus is the light of the world."
The first candle (purple) “CANDLE OF HOPE" means His promise and hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises He made to us. Our hope comes from God. (Romans 15:12-13)

Monday – December 1 – Open Box #1
Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel
Create a prayer chain out of construction paper.
Using red and green paper, cut strips 8 inches long for each day of advent. Using a dark marker, write names on each of the strips for people that you would like to pray for during advent. You can also pray for groups of people or missions. Staple the first strip end to end. Looping the next strip through the first ring, staple its ends together. Repeat until all strips are linked and your prayer chain is complete. Some families like to make the last strip a prayer of thankfulness to God) (I was thinking that after we tear off a strip and pray for that person, we could mail it to the person we prayed for and explain what we are doing and what we prayed for)
Thank God for giving us this wonderful season surrounding the birth of Jesus. Thank Him for your family and all the blessings in your life. Ask him to help you keep your focus on HIM for the next 25 days

Tuesday – December 2
– Open box #2
Luke 2: 1-5 1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Cinnamon Ornaments: http://www.make-stuff.com/projects/cinnamon_ornaments.html
Break a paper off the prayer chain - Take turns with the closing prayer, remember to discuss the events of the day with each family member. How is the month of December going for everyone? It's a good time to discuss that Christmas is the season of "giving" and not receiving. Think of ways your family can help others in your neighborhood and community this season. Ask God to lead and direct you as you seek to serve Him by ministering to those in need this holiday season.
Light the first purple candle on the wreath. Be sure and light the same candle as you did last evening.

Wednesday – December 3
– Open Box #3
Luke 2:6,7 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
As we read these promises, we long for their fulfillment. But we must wait patiently for God’s timing. He is in control of history and weaves together all our lives into his plan.
Phone call - Call someone you have been meaning to speak to, but for some reason you have not done so. (Stella in DC – it’s her birthday)
Start of the Puzzle pieces (I bought a kid small puzzle of the nativity scene – I put it together and then took the pieces apart in order and divided them up into the advent boxes. So by the end they have put the whole puzzle together)
Prayer :
Break off the next paper off the prayer chain - Talk as a family about promise of the coming Messiah. Isn't it amazing to know that God was planning our redemption from the very beginning of mankind. It is also comforting to know that while we may only see a tiny picture of the big puzzle, God sees the entire work at hand. We can trust Him with our everyday needs because He cares for us and has been planning for us since the beginning of time. Come to Him tonight in prayer and praise Him for His majesty and thank Him for His unconditional love.

Thursday – December 4
– Open Box #4
Luke 2:8-9 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified
Revelation 22:16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
Star snowflake (make paper star snowflakes) http://www.highhopes.com/6pointstar.html and http://papersnowflakes.com/
– Angel Tree gifts – We have 2 gifts from the Angel Tree at Church/GEMS – Explain why they may be on the angel tree and how it is good to help others in times of need – It’s not always about what are we going to receive for Christmas, but on what we can GIVE to others!!
Prayer chain - Lord, may I be generous with others from the richness You have shared with me through Your goodness.
Count the many times in your life when God has been there for you in a time of need. Thank Him!

Friday – December 5 – Open Box #5
Luke 2:10-12
10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Family Night - It's Friday evening! Friday night is a good night to designate as "Family Night." Keep this tradition all year and not just during Christmas. Pop some popcorn, rent a movie or play board games. The important thing is to spend time together as a family.
Close your family night with prayer making sure you take another prayer chain

Saturday – December 6
– Open Box #6
Luke 2:13-14 - 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Christmas Cards for the nursing home, those who may be lonely or Grandmas and Grandpas, Send a card to a friend or loved one who lost a family member during this year. Let them know you are praying from them and thinking of them this Christmas. Do you know some people who might be lonely this season? Why not share your creations with them and brighten their holidays. You could get together with a group of friends and visit nursing homes or hospitals. It's the little gestures of kindness that make a difference! Light your world this Christmas season!
Prayer Chain - Lord, I give over all my cares to you so that I may be at rest in You

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