I thought last week’s post was late… this week’s was so late that we’ve inadvertently skipped a week! Welcome to the fourth and final week of Advent!
Maybe it’s appropriate for this week to be delayed a bit because of life being full. I was hoping this week to share some resources connected to the Advent Conspiracy – a church movement all about taking the focus away from consumption during Advent and instead focusing on worship, reducing spending, giving and spending time with people. There is a neat video about it: click though!
Our Advent album recommendation this week is also an Advent Conspiracy one. Mike Crawford and his Secret Siblings, from Jacob’s Well church in Kansas City, have put together a fantastic album of original advent music in honour of the Advent Conspiracy. Proceeds from the album go to supporting water access programs.
Our kids resource this week comes from Ali Beeston, who uses a couple of advent calendars to mark time during Advent with her toddler. She has some really helpful thoughts on explaining Advent and Christmas to a small child.
Other resources this week? We have a poem by Glen Scrivener – a video version as well – where you can see him delivering it performance poetry style! Also, with just a week to go until Christmas, this is the week for using the Antiphons to count down until Christmas day. You might like to use them in your personal devotions. Click through to find all the antiphons, and one of our favourite versions of O Come O Come Emmanuel – which is a musical version of all the antiphonal prayers.
This post is late – two weeks into Advent, and life is already full to the brim with all the things that Christmas demands. Ugh. Matthew found this helpful blog post about ‘Advent Killers‘, written by Pete Scezzero. It was exactly the right thing to read as my to-do list of Christmas jobs and ministry tasks grows and grows. You might like it too!
Our kids resource this week has been put together by Amber from St Alban’s Five Dock, who has established an amazing Advent tradition with her primary school aged boys – they build their own nativity out of Lego! Click through for more.
Our other resources this week are tied together around the theme of waiting for Jesus’ coming. Actually… what am I talking about? That’s pretty much all the resources we have! This week we have some especially pointed ‘waiting’ resources. First up, an album by Rain for Roots titled ‘Waiting Songs‘. It’s country, so I can only listen to it in small doses, but it’s a very beautiful album none the less.
This year we are celebrating the season with once-or-twice weekly posts sharing some of our favourite Advent resources. We’ll be revisiting poems, songs, art, sermons and stories from previous years, but we also have some new resources this year.
One area we are developing at the moment is a collection of resources to use with children. There are no children in the Moffitt household, but some generous friends with children have volunteered to write up stories of how they celebrate Advent with their kids, and we can’t wait to share these with you as Advent unfolds. Our first reflection on celebrating Advent with kids comes courtesy of the Meoli family, who use The Truth in the Tinsel to celebrate Advent with their toddlers. Check it out.
This year we’re also going to share some of our favourite Advent music. Not just Christmas carols mind you – we’ve collected some true to form Advent music created especially to help Christians remember the coming of Christ. There are some traditional carols mixed in, but much of it is original contemporary music, written to help God’s people hold fast to the promise of his return and to faithfully wait for him. To kick us off this week we’ve included a link here to Advent by New York outfit Young Oceans. We love this album so much. Please have a listen if you are looking for something new for your Advent playlist this year.
How do we teach children how to wait for God’s king?
The Jesse Tree is tried and true Advent tradition, used across Catholic and Protestant communities to tell the story of how God’s people waiting for their king to arrive.
In a classic Christian move, the Jesse Tree kind of reclaims one of those random Christmas traditions – in this case the Christmas tree – and turns it into a beautiful symbol for a gospel truth. Picking up on Isaiah 11, the tree becomes a reminder of God’s promise to restore Israel with a descendant from Jesse’s family.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
Households and churches that use Jesse Trees fill the tree day by day with different ornaments that represent significant moments in God’s plan to save the world through Jesus – starting with Genesis and ending with the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.
There are so many resources out there to help you set up your own Jesse Tree. Here are some of our favourites. If you aren’t sure where to begin with telling these Old Testament stories, we strongly recommend using the Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s the perfect way to cover the whole Old Testament and Christmas in 24 days.
Another advent is just around the corner. How will you mark time this season? Will you use a daily calendar? Or a weekly candle in your Advent wreath? Will you work your way through a bible reading plan or a series of devotionals? Will you set up a Jesse Tree?
There are so many great resources out there to create your own Advent calendar. Check out our two collections below – a round up of 12 DIY advent calendars to make at home, and a list of different devotional materials or printables that you can use in your own calendar.
There’s also a link to our Advent Bible reading plan!
Have you found any other great Advent calendar ideas? Please let us know about other great resources that you love to use in the comments!
Another year, another advent. This year the first Sunday of Advent found us in the throes of moving house. We haven’t had much head space for serious reflection, but thankfully our advent habits have kicked in anyway. Surrounded by boxes and cleaning gear, trying to work out how life looks in a new place, we’ve amazingly still been able to carve out time to read through our bible reading plan. And finally, five days into December, we’ve even managed to put up our advent calendar.
Beginning the advent project a few years ago helped us to develop advent routines, our little household liturgies that help us see Jesus clearly. But as time passes things keep changing, we keep growing, and the church keeps producing incredibly helpful resources and tools for fixing our eyes on Jesus. So we’ve made a few changes to the Advent Project. From now on, every time we find something new to help you celebrate advent, we’ll add it into the resources section. Every now and then we’ll post here to let you know about new resources or remind you about some old favourites.
May your 2015 Advent be a rich season of remembering how God kept his promise to send Jesus into the world to save us, and of trusting God’s promise that Jesus will return to the world again to make all things new.
Advent is not a frantic countdown to the stuffed stomachs and broken toys of Christmas. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter; it is a time of both patient waiting and discontented longing that fuels our hope in the coming Kingdom of God. Amidst this season where our time feels so scarce, dashing from party to party and present shopping, Advent teaches us to watch, to wait, and to hope for the appearance of the one who makes all things new.
The Advent season is comprised of three aspects that you will find represented throughout the Advent Project. Firstly, Israel’s longing for an end to her exile. In Advent we join with Israel awaiting the deliverance from their sins, release from their exile, and the return of their King. We join with Israel’s prophets that proclaim this good news, and in doing so, we come to see that the story of Israel’s exile from God is part of the story of the world’s alienation from God.
“During Advent each year, the Christian year teaches us to once again become Israel, recognizing our sin and need, that waiting, longing, hoping, calling, praying for the coming of the Messiah, the advent of justice, and the in-breaking of shalom. We go through the ritual of desiring the kingdom – a kind of holy impatience – by re-enacting Israel’s longing for the coming of the King. We are called to be a people of expectancy – looking for the coming (again) of the Messiah.” – James K.A. Smith