Friday, November 25, 2011

Advent Week 1

I think it's lovely that our country celebrates Thanksgiving right before Advent.  While I doubt this was an intentional tie-in to the liturgical calendar when the holiday was established, I think it may be God's provision for a country whose material blessings stand firmly in the way of seeing our need for God.  For this reason, we're going to start our Advent with a natural segue from Thanksgiving.

Day 1
Think:  How does Thanksgiving prepare our hearts for Christmas?
Read: The Glorious Impossible by Madeline L'Engle
Do: Make a care package for someone you are thankful for.  Include a Bible verse or other words of encouragement, something you have made (art or a baked good) and anything else you want.  This hits all five love languages: you are serving the person by making them a care package, satisfying their need for touch by sending them a physical package (and hand delivering it when possible), encouraging them with words, spending your time on them and giving them a gift.

Day 2
Think: Why does Christmas come during the winter?  What can we learn from this?
Read: In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti (we will read this aloud together).  After reading the poem, we'll listen to the Shawn Colvin version of the song.
Do: Psalm 119:76 tells us that God's unfailing love will be our comfort.  Bleak days make us long for comfort.  Make hot chocolate mix to give to others for comfort on a day when they need it.

Day 3
Think: How does God use us to give his gifts to others?
Read: The story behind the creation of Silent Night and The Legend of the Fourth King.  I read The Legend of the Fourth King for the first time yesterday and loved it.  I'm not sure how I've gone this many years without reading this lovely book, but it was touching, thought-provoking and a great story of what it might have been like to have been one of the Magi.
Do: Silent Night was a gift not just to one congregation on one night, but to many people for years to come.  The magi brought gifts to the baby Jesus.  Make homemade marshmallows to go with the hot chocolate mix you made yesterday.

Day 4
Think: December 2 is the feast day of Isaiah.
Read: Isaiah 43.  Then re-read 43:1.  Make a list of the names God has for you.  On a separate page, list the names of your family members.  List a few other names you have for each of your family members.
Do: Cut strips of construction paper or craft paper.  Put some of the names of God on the strips and make a paper chain.  Keep the extra strips and add to the chain as you go through Advent and learn about other names of God.

My daughters have a Tuesday tutorial that will meet the first two Tuesdays of Advent, so we'll start with four day weeks on our Advent plan.  I offer this as both explanation and encouragement.  If you're like me, I'm trying desperately to make Advent a spiritual, not commercial, journey for my family.  But we still have other obligations (and lots of them).  My hope is that by starting small, we can carve out just parts of our days to really focus on what matters.  Because my hope is that if we take just nuggets of time, God will call those lessons to our minds and the minds of our children.

I want to encourage you to do only the portions of this Advent plan that sound fun to you.  If it feels like a burden, it will be a burden.  If your children are young, pick pictures books to read instead of a 19th century poem and a 20th century folk tale.  Do what works for your family.  (And be sure to let me know what works because I might want to borrow your idea!)

May you have a Blessed Advent!

1 comment:

aimee said...

First of all, I always appreciate the inclusion of Madeleine L'engle into any event! I have a lovely copy of this book with frescoes by Giotto for the illustrations.
Second of all, I love that you are putting together an advent Unit Study and sharing it! We'll definitely be popping over for ideas and checking out the great books. I'm thinking about the advent journals as well...