It’s Advent Season!!!

Are you and your family observing Advent from now until Christmas?  I grew up in a home where God and Jesus were very much a part of our lives, but Advent wasn’t something we participated in.  Not because it was wrong… but because we weren’t aware of it.  Some church denominations focus greatly on Advent and others don’t. Mine didn’t back then.  However, as my daily life has been blessed by friendships from various denominational backgrounds, so has my walk with Jesus.  One thing I’ve picked up from these friends is the observance of Advent.

The word “Advent” simply means “coming” or “arrival.” As we prepare for Christmas – in the house cleaning, decorating, cooking, shopping and gift wrapping, Advent observances help us prepare for the coming of CHRISTmas.  Although Advent is observed in various ways, and on various days, the main point of Advent is the intentional daily setting of our hearts and minds on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to earth the first time as a baby born in a manger. We joyfully celebrate His birth each Christmas season. But Jesus didn’t stay a baby. He grew up to become a Man – a Man who gave His life for ours and paid the death penalty for the sins you and I commit. Death could not hold Him, and He became the Victor over sin and death: the Giver of new life He provided for us. At Christmas time, we celebrate the advent of Jesus’ coming to earth as a Man.
But that’s not all we should celebrate. These celebrations of Jesus’ gifts to us while on earth ought to cause us to anticipate His next advent as well, because soon, He will come again. Except this next time, He won’t come as a baby in a manger. He’ll come as a Judge and The Triumphant KING of all kings and LORD of all lords (Rev. 19:11 & 16)!
In many churches, Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In our household, the celebration of Advent often begins the Monday after Thanksgiving or on December 1st.  From that point on, as our household’s “tone-setter,” I seek to offer something extra for the family to help them keep their focus on Jesus during the upcoming fun and festive days.
There are practically a gazillion Advent ideas out there in cyber space and in book stores. Many of them have nothing to do specifically with Jesus – only with counting down the days until Christmas.  You probably have something similar in your home.  For a true Jesus-Advent celebration, we can take those cute Advent wreaths, boxes, or banners, and fill them with things that point to the coming of Jesus – not just the coming of Santa. 

Jesus-Advent ideas are plentiful. Especially since we have the internet where we can share and link ideas world wide.  Advent planning calendars and daily devotions are easy to find, both in the stores and on your computer.  All you have to do is look.  In fact, if you follow my Pinterest boards, I have a whole board dedicated to Advent ideas. 

If Advent is new to you, or if you’re looking for a few fresh ideas, I wanted to share just a few of our family’s ideas with you.

The Jesse Tree

A Jesse Tree is either a banner, poster, or a regular tree decorated with symbols that retell the story of mankind and the redemptive hope we have in Jesus Christ. Its name comes from Isaiah 11:1: “Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (HCSB)

By reading the specific scriptures and adding a specific ornament to the tree each day of Advent, the Jesse Tree is a way to connect the Advent season with the faithfulness of God to His people – thousands of years ago, as well as today.

The ornaments don’t need to be elaborate. They can be drawn or copied onto a sheet of paper, colored, cut out, and placed on the tree. If you have children in your home, this would be a great activity for them. The Jesse Tree is primarily a teaching tool, so don’t worry about being so formal with it. Most people draw a tree on a poster board, hang it on a door or the refrigerator, and attach the paper ornaments with glue or tape. This Christmas, I plan on using a tiny table-sized Christmas tree that fits on a plant stand as our Jesse Tree.

Ann Voskamp, of the blog “A Holy Experience” and the book One Thousand Gifts offers a wonderful and beautiful – both in word and art – Jesse Tree devotional e-book.  It’s called “A Jesus Advent Celebration,” and is free for any who sign up for her “A Holy Experience” blog e-mails. You can get to the e-book information here.   It contains beautifully drawn ornaments that are ready to cut and use.  We will be using this beautiful tool during our family’s Advent celebration.  We shrunk the ornaments to fit on our tiny tree, glittered them up a bit, and will begin to use them tomorrow.

If you’re interested in a Jesse tree of your own, check out Ann’s free gift.  Or google “Jesse Tree.”  You won’t be disappointed with the ideas that pop up.

I have more to share, but time is just running out on me this morning!  I’m always getting ready in a hurry because I’m usually running late.  My favorite morning prayer as I’m rushing through the morning routine is:

“Fix my hair, and get me there.  
This, O Lord, is my earnest prayer!”

Ha.Ha.  And, btw, God does it every time and I give Him all the glory for it!!! 😉

We have a Women’s Ministry Christmas Crafts and Celebration night tonight, and we’ll be making something else for Advent.  I’ll take some pictures and share that idea with you soon.  {And of course, more ideas can be found in the e-book, Keeping Christ AS Christmas.)

Blessings of the Lord upon each of you, my friends, as we begin to look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ – celebrating Him as a baby, and awaiting His return as KING!

Jennifer

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at SmellingCoffee.com