O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
And ransom captive Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
This is one of my favourite Christmas songs.
In a season strewn with jingly tunes about reindeer and jolly, bearded men these five words, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” cut straight to the heart. They remind us of all that we long for and hope for in this Christmas season: the coming of a Saviour. Tiny and new, nestled amongst scraps of cloth and bits of hay, a King is born.
This Christmas, we are celebrating Advent as a family by reading our way through the Old Testament stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible. In this children’s Bible, there are twenty-four OT stories leading up to the birth of Christ. (One for each day leading up to Christmas!) Each night, we will be reading a different story and creating an ornament to go along with it. (I originally stumbled across this idea here.)
As we hang these ornaments on the tree, we are reminded how each of these stories ultimately points us to Christ. We reflect on and rejoice in the fact that the entirety of Scripture leads us to this moment: the birth of the promised one. The Messiah who came to sacrifice and to save.
December 4: A New Beginning
It’s easy to read the story of Noah and the ark and focus on the cotton-tailed bunnies and gentle lions marching side by side, two by two into the boat. It’s harder to see a world so broken and ravaged by sin that it had to be completely destroyed. God gave the rainbow as a promise that He would never flood the earth again. But more than that, it was a promise that He would one day come to fix this sin-shattered world once and for all.
For today’s craft, we made a rainbow with a white yarn “cloud,” using a small wooden ring and colourful embroidery thread. This craft ended up being a little more complicated than originally planned for a four-year-old but we loved the completed version.
December 5: A Giant Staircase to Heaven
It’s easy to think that we have everything under control. That we can do it ALL by our own sheer willpower and determination. But the tower of Babel is such an excellent reminder that we can’t get to Heaven on our own. There is nothing we can build, nothing we can physically do to scale those heights. As the Jesus Storybook Bible so beautifully puts, “Heaven would instead have to come down to us.” To remind us of this, our ornament for the day was a miniature ladder made of popsicle sticks.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
December 6: Son of Laughter
God’s promises are sure, even when they seem impossible. Sarah laughed when God told them that a son would be born to them in their own age — that their descendants would number the stars in the sky. But God was faithful. Just as He was faithful throughout the following generations. Just as He was faithful to send another miracle baby to a virgin; a baby who would one day save the world. Today’s craft was a star ornament (inspired here) to remind us of the promise God made so long ago.
December 7: The Present
For today’s craft we found some sticks and wound them together into a bundle. As we read the story of Abraham and Isaac, we talked about trust. The kind of trust in God that reassures you through the deepest, scariest situations. And we talked about the ultimate sacrifice — of a son who obeyed his Father, even to death, and who carried a wooden cross upon his shoulders.
December 8: The Girl No One Wanted
This is probably one of my favourite stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible. The story of Jacob and Rachel has always seemed like such a romantic love story: boy works for seven years to marry girl, father tricks boy into marrying girl’s older sister, boy works another seven years to finally marry girl. Sigh. Everyone dreams of being loved like that. And yet, I never stopped to think of Leah. The girl that no one wanted. The girl that was married off to a man who was in love with her sister. Except she wasn’t unloved, or unseen. She was chosen for something very special — and through her son Judah, would come a Kingly line, and one day, the Saviour of the world.
December 9: The Forgiving Prince
I love the Old and New Testament connections that the Jesus Storybook Bible points to in the story of Joseph. “One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince who’s heart would break. Like Joseph he would leave his home and his Father… He would be sold for pieces f silver. He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong.” (Jesus Storybook Bible, page 82.) This is a story of incredible forgiveness. The kind of forgiveness that only comes with a heart that knows and loves the God who forgives all.
Today’s craft was Joseph’s multi-coloured coat. (This was not so big of a hit with a four-year-old who disdainfully looked at the finished product and said, “It looks like a dress, mommy, not a coat.”)
December 10: God To The Rescue
Today we read about a hard-hearted Pharoah and a people who cried out to God to rescue them from slavery. We read about the plagues of frogs and gnats and flies and boils, and finally the worst one of all, the death of the firstborn. And yet, God provided a way out for His people. By the smearing of blood atop their doors, death passed them over. They were free… but “an even greater rescue was coming.” Many generations later, blood would be spilled yet again and death would finally and forever be defeated.
Today’s craft summed up in the words of a four-year-old: “Yay! It’s blood day!”