Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Focusing on Christ through Advent season

The Dear Wife suggests that I ask all y'all what you do to focus on Christ through the weeks leading up to (and after?) Christmas. Why so early? To allow time to order, arrange, plan... after all, Christmas may be a ways off, but the start of the Advent season isn't.

For our part, over the decades, we have done many things:
  1. We have read Christ in Christmas (very good book of essays by folks like Sproul, Boice, and Swindoll on different aspects of Christ's person).
  2. We have read Jotham's Journey and Tabitha's Travels (interesting, suspenseful, clever; keeps the kids' interest).
  3. I have led the family through a series of readings I select, which systematically go through the OT, narrowing down from "the Seed of the woman" (Genesis 3:15) to the tribe of Shem (Genesis 9) to Abram (Genesis 12), etc., until we end up pinpointing the Lord Jesus.
  4. We have read Ruth Bell Graham's One Wintry Night (good book, exquisite illustrations).
How about you?


Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh fun!

We've been doing Advent devotions for the last couple years, using Ann Hibbard's "Family Celebrations at Christmas". Light a candle (or candles), read the Scripture, sing a carol.

I've always had a Nativity scene that is "kid safe". And sometimes they build me Lego nativities ;D

We love the special church activities - the children's program and the Christmas Eve service in particular.

And Messiah. Bliss.

We try to have lots of friends over. Lots of hospitality. And cookies. Cookies are always good.

Thanks for the other book suggestions!

How about another guest post by Valerie?


John said...

So...I've ordered the books we don't have.

And now contemplating changing sermon schedule beginning Nov. 28.

My how you can complicate one's life - totally unintentionally mind you.

DJP said...

It's what I do.

Al said...

I think I sent you a copy of the devotional that some friends of mine put together for Advent/Christmas/Epiphany...

It is very good and we use that each year.

We also do a lessons and carols service on Christmas Eve night...

Dan said...

We do Advent Jesse (http://www.amazon.com/Advent-Jesse-Tree-Devotions-Christmas/dp/0687009081) with our family. Our homeschool group does it together each year. Each family involved picks one of the days and makes an ornament depicting the lesson. We make enough ornaments for all the families participating. We then all get together, swap ornaments so that we all have one ornament for each day, then we hang an ornament on the tree and do the lesson each day leading up to Christ's birthday.

JackW said...

I've started practicing my Christmas guitar licks. Music wise, last year I bought the Annie Moses Christmas DVD which is outstanding. The Getty's have written some Irish Christmas stuff, but it won't be out until next year. Really looking forward to that.

Mark said...

I so need to SUBSCRIBE to this feedback. Please? Pretty please?

DJP said...

It's OK con me. Is there something I need to do for you?

Herding Grasshoppers said...

PS This year the boys and I are memorizing Luke 2.

Margaret said...

We also read through our "Jesse Tree" readings, which my kids love. I usually have my older two kids read the passages aloud. The "tree" itself and ornaments are something my daughter and I made together at a church pre-Advent event.
My kids love the Jesse tree and are always sad to see it go back in the closet. I've often thought it would be good to create some similar, but different, prop for following a series of readings in other seasons, too. Not continuously, but I dunno, maybe for Lent. I'll have to try and think something up for that.

Maddison said...

Is there any chance of getting the list of readings you used for number three?

Rita Martinez said...

awww :/ In 5 years I have yet to develop a plan to do that...cause I'm usually doing a Bible-in-One-Year reading of my Bible and by this time I'm catchig up on all the reading i've left behind. (Med school leaves little time for doing all the things that I would want to do)
Actually now that I think of it last year what I did was read the story of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ from Luke :)
but that was about it.
Although I think this year i'll try to plan out something with Penn :)

DJP said...

Thanks, all. We need more! I figure it's because I posted this a tad later in the day.

So I'll leave it up today, probably no new posts, so folks can add their stories, comments, suggestions.

fragranceoftruth said...

We used to do Advent activities like a nativity Advent calendar, Advent Wreath with colored candles for each week, and reading Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels, Bartholomew’s Passage. However, a couple of years ago, we began to re-assess our family’s traditions in an attempt to more closely conform to Scripture and dropped all Advent activities because of the Roman Catholic influence of that particular tradition. We even cut way back on decorations like the Christmas tree and sending cards with family photos because they tend to take away the focus from the birth of Christ Jesus.
Instead we spend our family devotion times reading/studying the story of the birth of Christ out of the Gospel of Luke and incorporating activities that speak of the coming Messiah in an effort to remember the true reason for celebrating this event.

Dan, I would appreciate having a copy of your reading series that you took your family through (#3). That sounds like a fabulous study! Are you willing to share that with your readers?


Merrilee Stevenson said...

Crackers! I just left a comment and it dissolved into thin air.

In a nutshell, my comment is less spiritual than all the others. I enjoy reading "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.

I know it's supposed to be funny and light-hearted, but every time I get to the end, I cry. It's such a poignant depiction of the true reason that Christ came to the earth, and a reminder of the reality of the cruel world that He came into. And it's a humbling study in churchy self-righteousness and all it's glory.

DJP said...

For Maddison and Fragrance: I'll look and see whether I've written it down. Could be from out of my haid.

Living with Intention said...

We are one of those crazy home school families, and we take the month of December off from academic activities and spend our time serving others in Jesus' name. We have baked cookies for the police officers and firemen, sang for elderly neighbors, raked leaves, baked specialty items for folks with dietary restrictions, cleaned houses, etc.
We limit our gifts to $25/person (including the kids) so the emphasis stays away from "stuff". It is such a great month of celebration!

Robert said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I grew up Catholic and the mention of Advent brings up bad memories, btu this is definitely good. I read Luke 1 to my boys last night and they really enjoyed it. It helped that I stopped from time to time to explain how gloriouos this all was/is and try to help them understand how Zacharias/Mary/Elizabeth must have felt. They are very anxious for the next chapter tonight! What is really funny is that I had planned to only read through verse 25, but they wanted to hear more. Praise God for putting such a hunger for God's Word into the hearts of my children!

Sir Aaron said...

my children are still very young. This is the first year my eldest daughter actually realizes Christmas is coming and it's important. I spend a lot of time decorating the yard and have a Biblical theme. We read various Christmas books and Christmas Eve we read various passages from the Bible related to Christ's birth.

Honestly, at this point teaching is mostly about repitition of the basics. Everything has to be short, simple, and to the point.

As to presents, we have no limits. I don't worry about "commercialization." I tell my daughters that God gave us two very important commands. Love God and love each other. On Christmas we get to do both. As long as we (my family) remember those two things, then I don't get overly legalistic.

Sir Aaron said...

I should say we do have one ritual. We watch Charlie Brown's Christmas (the one where he talks about the true meaning of Christmas).

James Joyce said...

Never really had an Advent plan for my family before.
I purchased Jotham's Journey from a local bookstore last night.
I'm looking forward to November 28th.
Thanks Dan

Robert said...

@Aaron - Legalism? At Christmas? That's never a problem, is it? We also don't shy away from giving gifts and having the tree and playing Christmas music. It is reassuring whenever I hear my children telling my wife and I that we're celebrating Jesus at Christmas.

Marla said...

In the past we've used a kid-friendly nativity that we add a piece every week (and also an advent calendar/tree).
This year I am going to get an advent wreath (kids are finally old enough to leave the candles alone)and do scripture readings with it each Sunday.
I'm really looking forward to it. One thing I started last year (that was really a great activity) is have each of the kids make a Birthday card for Jesus,and we hang them on the wall. (I have 2 handicapped children, and they LOVED this activity). Merry Christmas Dan.

CotnerMD said...

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.



REM said...

Last year, read Jotham's journey and it was a real treat. This year we will read the other. We watch Charlie Brown Christmas (nice one night breakaway from norm). My wife is working through Noel Piper's Treasuring God in our Traditions and good stuff is coming from that.