Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Since my kids are getting older I wanted to do something with them to celebrate Advent. I've never done anything for Advent before but I had an idea of what I wanted our activities leading up to the birth of Christ to look like. I wanted to do something each day starting on December 1 all the way until December 25 that would point my children to Jesus. I began asking friends and searching on line for ideas.
I was disappointed when I realized that most Advent activities I found had no real spiritual significance to them. There was nothing wrong with these activities. But I wasn't interested in assigning days to bake cookies, make Christmas ornaments, drive around and look at lights and sing Christmas carols. We do those things anyway. I wanted to do something that would help my my children anticipate the coming of Christ, not the coming of presents on Christmas morning.
My friend, Shyla, found a reading schedule that she shared with me. Using the Jesus Storybook Bible (one of our favorites) we began reading on December 1. We started with creation. We have continued to read a story each day and on Christmas morning we will finish our Advent celebrations with the story of the birth of Christ. After we do our reading we hang an ornament on our tree that coincides with the story. For example, the day we read about the fall of mankind, we hung a fruit tree on our Christmas tree. The day we read about Daniel, we hung a lion on our tree. The kids take turns hanging the ornaments on the tree and throughout the day they will look at those ornaments and begin to retell the story.
What is the point of this? I don't just want my children to know that Jesus was born. I want them to know why. Why was He born? What did He come to do? Why did He have to come? Every story we read, yes even those stories in the Old Testament, point to Jesus. Every story "whispers His name." So when we read about the Tower of Babel we explain that though they tried, the people could never reach Heaven or God. God would have to come down to them. And He does, through Jesus. When we read about God's promise to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son in their old age we share that God would one day send another son to another woman who was a virgin. Just like Isaac brought laughter to Sarah, Jesus would bring laughter to the whole world. Just like Isaac carried wood on his back up a hill for his father Abraham to sacrifice him, one day Jesus would climb another hill carrying a wooden cross on His back. And he too would trust His Father, God, and die for the sins of the world. Every story, every single one, points to Jesus. And so as we begin with creation and read about Noah's Ark, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and the Red Sea, David and Goliath, Jonah and many others, our children see that Jesus is in fact part of every story. Every story points to Him. On Christmas morning it's not enough for my kids to know that Jesus was born. I want them to know why He was born. That's what I want Advent to be about!
Aubrey hanging a picture of the Ten Commandments on the tree