I remember, as a child, staring up at the big Christmas tree in my elementary school lobby. It was decorated with paper ornaments; each of them carefully (or not so carefully) crafted by sticky-fingered, glitter-covered students. It was a Jesse tree. A reminder of the generations who waited on the arrival of a Messiah.
As kids, most of our anticipation around Christmas comes with what’s found under the tree. But the truth is, this sense of yearning and longing for Christmas morning can be transformed into something so much more than our desire for new toys and sparkling gifts.
This yearning leads us to the stable — past some scraps of swaddling cloth and an exhausted mother to a newborn babe. We’re reminded of those who waited for His birth, just as we ourselves wait with open hands and hearts for His return.
So what is Advent anyways?
Advent is the season leading up to Christmas morning. For four weeks, we remember and identify with the generations who waited on the arrival of a Messiah. We look back throughout God’s great story and hear the cries of a people longing for freedom. A people waiting on a Saviour. This is a promise that echoes throughout the scriptures. From Genesis onwards, the pages of God’s Word ripple with anticipation of the One to come. The entirety of scripture points us to Christ.
As we reflect on this throughout the Advent season, we prepare and re-center our hearts. We direct our eyes to the Saviour who was laid in a manger and focus on the King who came to die on a tree, rather than the presents found under one.
With a four-year-old in the house now, I decided it was time to be more intentional with how we approach the month of December. To purposefully direct our attention back to the true reason for celebrating. And that’s when I stumbled across this really cool advent idea for kids.
Our family loves the Jesus Storybook Bible. This children’s Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, gifts us with a beautiful glimpse into God’s great rescue plan. “Every story whispers his name.” Since this is the Bible my son uses, I knew that I wanted to incorporate it into our Advent celebration.
In the Jesus Storybook Bible, there are twenty-four different Old Testament stories leading up to the birth of Jesus. (One for each day leading up to Christmas!) Each day we will be reading a different story and creating an ornament to go along with it. (Our own version of a “Jesse Tree.)
I am very much looking forward to celebrating Advent together as a family, and this is a fun way to do so with pre-school age children. Each week I will be sharing the results of our crafts and studies! Feel free to join in with us as we reflect and remember and long.
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
December 1: The Story and the Song
Today we looked at how God not only created the world but gave us His word as a way for us to see and know Him. For our first Advent ornament, we used a collection of mirrors to remind us that “God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror.” (Jesus Storybook Bible, pg 12.)
December 2: The Beginning: A Perfect Home
Today’s Advent discussion centered around creation. We serve a creator God who is so much bigger than the trials or troubles of our world. As we wait for His return, we can wait with confidence, knowing that He has already won this fight with sin and death and pain. For Day Two, we used an old aviation map to create a “globe” ornament. I found inspiration for this craft here.
December 3: The Terrible Lie
Day three brings us the story in the garden. A story of brokenness and temptation. A story of separation from God. So today, we wrapped a pipecleaner snake around an apple ornament and reminded each other that this isn’t where the story ends. The garden was just the beginning of God’s beautiful plan for restoration.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:15 (ESV)
Check out the rest of this Advent series here: