This is our second year observing Advent. Last year I was on a hunt to start some Christmas traditions that would help us to focus on Jesus, the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I'd heard of Advent but didn't really know what it was all about. After reading some books on the subject from the library, I found that you can celebrate Advent in all kinds of ways. The definition of Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event!
That person is Jesus! He is notable because he is our Savior and was born . . . to die for me! The event we are leading up to is his birth and that encompasses Christmas! We chose last year and are continuing this tradition this year to celebrate every Sunday in Dec. leading up to Christmas by lighting a candle on our Advent wreath. We read a prophesy from the Old Testament predicting the coming of Jesus and discuss it with the children. It's really fun and the kids love to light the candle and watch it flicker as Rich reads. It's a time of praise and peace as we stop running and think about the miracle of Jesus.
There are three candles lit in this picture since yesterday was the third Sunday of the month. The 4th candle will be lit next Sunday and then the white one in the middle will be lit either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This is an easy tradition to start. I simply bought a styrofoam base at Michaels Craft store and stuck the foliage in it along with 5 candles.
Another tradition we started last year was memorizing the Christmas story directly from Matthew 1: 18-25. We try to do this every night but sometimes miss because of our schedules. I separated the verse out onto 25 strips of construction paper, each strip stated a few words from the passage. Save these for next year so you don't have to go to the work of writing it out every year. We repeat them everyday, cutting another link as the days go by, adding more of the passage to complete the story. Since today is the 15th, we should have 11 more links left (we haven't done today's yet) but there are 12 in the picture because we are behind a day. Not to worry since we did this last year, the kids are picking it up again real fast so stuffing two days into one is no big deal. I really like this tradition too since it helps us to hide God's word in our hearts.
The next few pictures are of our day yesterday at church. Maybe this will be a tradition to perform in our church's Christmas musical each year? This was the first year that our family has participated in something like this. The children were so excited about it all and even loved to attend all the practices. A.J. smiled the entire hour he was up there! Our church only has about 75 people in it but there is a lot of talent in this small group! Many can play multiple instruments, sing, and yesterday we found their acting abilities are quite good also! Even little Reece had the courage to sing in a trio. He almost always chickens out at the last minute!
Here is a picture of Reece in the red being his goofy self with all his friends!
Little Micah was all dressed up for the occasion in his new dress clothes. Arthur begged to hold him for a picture. He really loves babies!
This is the oldest member of our church, Mrs. Neesie Adams. I don't say "old" to be insulting but complimentary! Our culture has made it a bad thing to get old or we speak of the elderly in hushed tones so they won't hear us calling them old. But the Bible esteems the elderly and honors them because they are wise! Mrs. Neesie comes to church every week and sits right up front so she can hear. She loves babies and seeing Micah brightens her day. She wasn't so sure she could hold Micah for this picture since one arm is paralyzed but she did it. She proceeded to tell me that she was raised with 7 brothers and 2 sisters! She is the oldest of her siblings and so has had lots of practice holding babies!
This is Landry and Micah together. Landry's whole family was in the musical so he asked if he could sit with Micah and I. He has the most adorable face and looks like an angel but he keeps up with his brothers, sword fighting, wrestling, and all the things little boys are made of! He is only 3 yrs old but he has a big "roar" when he gets mad!
Well, I hope you have some family traditions at this time of year that help keep Christ the center of Christmas. It's way too easy to leave Him behind trying to keep up with all that we think is expected of us. Shopping, Christmas cards, cookies, parties, decorating, and so much more keep us from giving Jesus the honor he deserves.
And really . . . what is most important?