Welcome to the first Sunday of Advent! I hope that your family is as excited as mine to begin our journey of expectation, hope and joy at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! Your family will light the very first candle on your Advent wreath today--the Prophecy Candle. This candle represents not only the Biblical prophecies about Christ's birth, but the very feeling of anticipation which God's people experienced over hundreds of years as they awaited His coming. Advent is a time when we can, in our own way, join the generations of God's children in awaiting our Messiah. Of course, Advent encompasses both the arrival of the Christ child and His second glorious coming which is yet to occur!
This week, we will be taking a look at some of the wondrous prophecies about Christ, the Messiah! Did you know that Jesus is mentioned or alluded to in every book of the Bible? Did you know that Jesus' birth in Bethlehem was foretold in prophecy down to the exact day--and it came to pass! Perhaps this is why I love the Christmas season so much. Since I first began looking into the Advent celebration, the Old Testament prophecies about Christ have given me a "faith boost", one that I'm excited about and want to share with my family and friends. What means so much to me is that our God told the world that His Son would be coming. He left no question about even the details...He is completely worthy of our praise and trust because He did what He promised.
The following verses are a warm-up for the building expectation we feel at Christmas time, which symbolizes the wait of early believers for their Savior. Read and think about what our response to this waiting should be!
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. (KJV)
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (KJV)
Yet those who wait for the Lord
will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (NASB)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful... (NASB) *The KJV says "hold fast the profession of our faith".
What I find so encouraging about those verses is that although we must wait for Christ's return, He IS our source of strength and peace WHILE we wait. We are waiting for Him and yet He gives us what we need to remain steadfast in our expectation that He will come.
Jesse Tree Verse: Isaiah 11:1-2 Symbol: Tree stump with branch (shoot) to illustrate Jesus was from Jesse's family ("shoot of Jesse"). Example
Chrismon: Three "Fish" Chrismon to signify Christ and His place in the Trinity. (Check out the examples at some of the links below to make your own Chrismon designs/ornaments!)
Chrismons are simply Christian designs or symbols which express the character and/or name of Christ. The word Chrismon comes from a combination of "Christ" or "Christianity" and "Monogram". The first person to create Chrismon symbols to use as ornaments for a tree was a lady named Mrs. Frances Kipps Spencer in 1957 who was inspired after studying the names of Christ. The wonderful thing about using Chrismons is that you can use ANY you like or even create your own! There are Chrismons that you can cut out as if they were special paper snowflakes, or you can simply print, color and cut one of the many patterns available online. Here are some links to get your creativity warmed up!
PaperChrismons.com TONS of free Chrismon patterns! The Christian Snowflakes are great--cut out with the template and see the symbols hidden within the snowflake! Great site.
Chrismon Patterns These focus on the names of Christ.
Chrismon Cross Stitch Patterns Beautiful and simple ways to create Chrismon ornaments.
Chrismon Images This collection contains many Christian symbols from history--of both the church and the life of Christ.
Cresourcei.com's Chrismon Page Another good page on what Chrismons are and some beautiful cross stitch examples of symbols.
Day by Day Grace Remember that we only need the strength for this moment!
Dinnertime (or anytime!) Discussion
Today's devotional was called "Day by Day Grace". That must have been just what the early believers needed to receive as they waited for years and years for Christ to come and fulfill God's promises. It must have been so hard to try and live each day in expectation of what God would do...but hadn't done yet! What are some things that you have a hard time waiting for? How does God want you to spend your time waiting?
Word to Know
Prophecy: A foretelling; prediction; a declaration of something to come. As God only knows future events with certainty, no being but God or some person informed by him, can utter a real prophecy. The prophecies recorded in Scripture, when fulfilled, afford most convincing evidence of the divine original of the Scriptures, as those who uttered the prophecies could not have foreknown the events predicted without supernatural instruction. 2 Pet.1 (From Webster's 1828 Dictionary)
Jotham's Journey...Bartholomew's Passage...Tabitha's Travels
Arnold Ytreeide has written 3 wonderful books for the entire family to share at Advent. All three center around a fictional child living at the time of Christ's birth and are full of excitement and drama! Each book contains readings for each day of Advent and also has a short history of Advent and other information. If you'd like one book to read aloud each day throughout Advent, one of these would be our first pick! (Cautionary note: Some of the drama is a little scary for younger ones, so please read ahead to decide if you need to "edit" for your family. ;o)
The first works that I'd love to share with you this Advent are one of my favorite forms of art. Stained glass! For some reason, Christmas and Advent bring to mind the beautiful windows which adorn cathedrals and churches all over the world. Not only are they decorative arts, however, but they are stories in themselves, often visually guiding us through Biblical events like the life of Christ.
Stained Glass Photography Neil Ralley is dedicated to capturing some of the most beautiful examples of stained glass in America and abroad through photography. Check out his galleries and the lines of gorgeous Christmas cards suitable for framing as art!
Try to find a cathedral or church in your area which has stained glass artwork! I did a quick search and found this one in Cleveland: Trinity Cathedral The founder of the glass studio which created these wonderful windows claimed that his "first purpose was to give glory to God through a material which is the crowning accent to architecture."
Short History of Stained Glass Check out the rest of this Stained Glass Museum as well.
Art History with Michelli--Stained Glass Everything you every wanted to know about stained glass, how it was and is made and wonderful galleries of European stained glass windows.
This is a photo of a window of Trinity Church, Saugerties, NY which depicts the adoration of the magi. Neil Ralley took the photo and graciously gave me permission to reproduce it here for our Advent Calendar! Thanks, Neil!
Christmas Carol or Hymn
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is one of the oldest Christmas carols still sung today! It contains many prophetic references and that is why it is used so often at Advent.
The original author is unknown, but "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was probably written before 800 A.D. It became known as the song of the "Great O's" and contained 7 verses in Latin which were sung or chanted one at a time on the 7 days leading up to Christmas. The lyrics give a brief summary of the prophecies surrounding the birth of Christ, Emmanuel.
In the 1800's, an Anglican priest named John Mason Neale came across this tune--referred to as a Latin chant rather than a Christmas carol--and translated it into English. His first translation actually began, "Draw Nigh, Draw Nigh, Emmanuel". Several years later, 2 of the 7 verses were cut and the song we now sing became popular throughout Europe and America. (All seven verses are available at the link above so be sure to read them!)
Holiday Tradition & History
Since today is the first day of Advent, please go to our Advent History page and read about the interesting history of Advent and the Advent Calendar and Wreath. If you haven't already started one, you can find some great ideas there for making your own calendar or wreath!
'Round the World at Christmas
Christmas in Russia
"The Legend of the Snowmaiden"
In Russia, the tradition goes that Babushka (whose name means grandmother) decided not to go with the wise men to seek the baby Jesus because it was too cold! Soon after, though, she regretted staying behind and hurried to catch up, bringing lots of gifts in her basket. But she never found the wise men and began to look for Jesus on her own. Legend has it that she continues looking for Him and leaves presents behind at the homes of good children where she seeks.
This Day in History...Advent and Christmas! Visit our "This Day in History" page to read about historical events and famous birthdays from holiday seasons past.
Coloring Pages, Cooking and Crafts
Stained Glass Crafts Here are some easy crafts from KidsDomain.com We are going to trace the stained glass templates onto 2 pieces of wax paper and then melt crayons in between to make sun-catchers!
Stained Glass Candle Holders: Tear or cut small pieces of tissue paper. Cover a glass jar or other glass container with slightly watered down craft glue (glue with glitter is a pretty choice!) by painting it all over with a paint brush. Apply the pieces of tissue paper over the jar until it is covered and paint another thin layer of glue over top. Allow to dry. Place a tea light inside and enjoy! You can also apply the tissue paper pieces directly onto a pillar candle.
Stained Glass Cookies These are usually too hard to eat, but they sure look pretty on a tree! If you want to make stained glass window cookies you can actually eat, just cut out squares of dough, thin strips to make 4 window panes and fill each small square with a different flavor of jam/preserves! You can use store-bought cookie dough, too.
Make Your Own Snowman
Home Holiday Preparations
-Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors--replace batteries if needed!
-Make plans to have your family holiday photos taken if you haven't already done so.
*I know that many of these movies will be on television, but there are some families who only use their t.v. with a VCR or DVD player. And some movie buffs might appreciate this way of organizing their holiday entertainment! LOL
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) Barbara Stanwyck plays a magazine columnist who has been reporting on the "country life" that she doesn't actually lead! When her boss decides to tag along for a down-home Christmas, she must keep up the charade to keep her job. Cute, funny classic movie.
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