Advent Candle:
We have reached the last Sunday of Advent! This week's candle is called the Angel Candle and it represents the love which God shared with the world when He sent His Son, Jesus! Another theme for this week is sharing--the angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds and they shared it with others. The magi also left the baby Jesus and probably shared the wonderful news of the Savior with everyone they met! So this week, as we read through the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 1 and 2 and light all four Advent candles, remember that the light of Christ can only shine brighter as it does on your Advent wreath if we SHARE the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world!

Bible Verses

**This week we will be reading through Luke 1, part of Luke 2 and part of Matthew 2 for the story of Jesus' birth. During this week, there will be fewer Advent "extras" as we get closer to Christmas day. Have a wonderful, blessed Christmas! Please visit TeachingMOM's Advent Calendar next year for more exciting material!**

Luke 1:5-25
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,
according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
"You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
"For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.
"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
"It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."
The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
"And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.
When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying,
"This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men." (NASB)

The Arrival
Kids4Truth Here is the homepage of the company which made "The Arrival". Be sure to check out their other GREAT multimedia presentations! They even have coloring pages of some of the images. Have a look around!

The First Christmas Carol A Christmas sermon from Charles Spurgeon. We've been discussing the history of some favorite Christmas songs this season of Advent, but did you ever stop to think that the announcement of Jesus' birth by the angels to the shepherds was the world's first Christmas song?

Book Suggestion
The Very First Christmas by Paul Maier. This is one of my favorite Christmas books. When a young boy tells his mother than he's tired of listening to fairy tales at bedtime and wants a REAL story, his mother shares about Jesus' birth. Maier is a Christian historian--which you know if you've listened to the audio broadcasts I linked above!--and his telling of the Christmas story really helps younger children (say, 6 and up) to understand some of the parts of the Biblical account that can be difficult to explain. He answers many of the "Mom, why...?"s! The illustrations are gorgeous, too. A definite Christmas keeper!

Advent Extras

The painting at the right is "Madonna della Sedia" (1512-1514). I've saved the best for last! This is my favorite of all Renaissance Madonnas.

Raphael, or Raffaello Santi, was born in Urbino, Italy in 1483. He grew up assisting his father, who was a court painter, in his studio and learning about the fundamentals of fine art painting. By his teens, Raphael had surpassed his father and began to receive commissions on his own merit.

Not much is known about who taught Raphael his techniques after his father died, but his early works closely resemble an artist named Pietro Perugino and are vibrant but simple and without much detail.

At age 21, in 1504, Raphael moved to Florence where he spent the next four years studying the techniques of the two great masters of the Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. His style soon changed after that and he drew heavily from their influences.

But Raphael soon became as sought-after as da Vinci and Michelangelo and the two greats of the Renaissance became the great three! Raphael is known for his sweet and warm depictions of the Madonna, beautiful balances of classical and natural. His four years in Florence brought him fame throughout Europe and he was soon commissioned by Pope Julius II to begin work on frescoes for his papal apartment at the Vatican. This is where Raphael painted one of his greatest pieces, "The School of Athens".

Under the next pope, Leo X, Raphael was named chief painter, architect AND archaeologist. He initiated the first comprehensive survey of Roman antiquities. While he was busy with all of these tasks, he found time to paint his well-known Madonnas, including the "Madonna della Sedia" (Madonna of the Chair).

In 1519, Raphael was commissioned by the Cardinal Giulio de' Medici to paint "The Transfiguration". As he neared its completion, Raphael suddenly died of a fever. He was only 37 years old.

Works of Raphael (parents preview...many of his Madonna and Child paintings include a nude baby or toddler Jesus. ;o)
Raphael's Madonnas The popularity of Raphael's Madonnas is evident from this website which highlights most of the Raphael postage stamps (usually found at Christmas, of course) from history! Very interesting.
Madonna and Child Coloring Book Here is a set of 7 coloring pages from Eclectic Homeschool Online which are nice line drawings of famous fine art Madonnas, including "Madonna della Sedia" by Raphael.

Christmas Carol or Hymn
Handel's Messiah: An Appreciation and Explanation
"Messiah" Sampler Listen to parts of Handel's "Messiah", courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio.
Scores for Handel's Messiah All of the choruses are available except for "O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion".

There is a wonderful book called The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader by Donna Payne and Fran Lenzo which contains 28 stories, each prefaced by a portion of the words to "Messiah". It also includes a CD with the music! The stories share some of the history behind Christmas traditions.

Holiday Tradition & History

'Round the World at Christmas
Creches from Around the World This is an amazing collection of Nativity scenes by the University of Dayton (Ohio).
I wasn't sure where to put this, soooo...be sure to check out Animal Planet's "Animals of the Nativity" section! Read about how Francis of Assisi, a lover of all animals, was the founder of the creche or nativity. View a gallery of nativities in art and take a nativity animals quiz! Very interesting site!

Coloring Pages, Cooking and Crafts
Manger Scene Coloring Page
Christmas Puzzles and MORE! This is a GREAT set of 41 Christmas worksheets! Crossword puzzles, word jumbles, word searches and more. Might take a minute to download (PDF) but it's worth it!
Mary Engelbreit's Workshop Crafts, recipes and coloring pages from one of the most popular illustrators.
Preschool/Kindergarten Nativity Craft
Christmas-Cookies.com What makes this site so wonderful is that it has several ways of searching for recipes. My favorite: by country of origin!

A simple nativity scene can be made with only cinnamon sticks, potpourri (or yarn or hay), a small star of some kind and an old Christmas card with a nativity scene. Simply glue the cinnamon sticks onto a stiff piece of paper to form a house shape. Glue a small amount of potpourri (or yarn or hay) for the manger. Cut out the figures from your Christmas card and glue them into the scene. Attach the star at the top! You can hang up the whole picture or cut out along the outside of the cinnamon stick stable and attach a looped ribbon to make it an ornament!

Christmas Fun!
Rooney Design Holiday Games
Alphabet Soup Scavenger Hunt and Contest! Find 10 secretly placed pictures of a Christmas tree (see the site) on the Alphabet-Soup.net site and be entered in a drawing for a $15 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble bookstore!
Santa Trivia Contest Another contest from Alphabet-Soup...win a $15 Toys R Us gift certificate!
Matching Parts This is a cute little game! Help the elf match Christmas toy parts.
Chateau Meddybemps This is a very cool site! I love it. Take your time and explore...very unique!
ASCII Advent Calendar A neat Advent calendar with a new ASCII creation for every day of December.
Holiday Arcade Here are some more online games! Check out the Snowman4000 to make your own snow person AND see the gallery of other people's creations! Fun.

CrecheMania! Speaking of the nativity, here is an awesome site where you can download some beautiful creches--these are gorgeous! What a find!
Printable Finger Puppet Nativity For younger ones, this nativity puppet theatre can be printed out in pieces and assembled with a shoe box for lots of finger puppet fun!

Home Holiday Preparations
Holiday Countdown Checklist I'm out of ideas, so check here to see if you've left anything out! LOL I like this list.

Movie Time
It's a Wonderful Life Don't leave Christmas without it!

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