Preparing for Advent
In his book Waiting for the Coming, Bishop J. Neil Alexander reminds us that spiritual growth comes when we pray and wait. He writes, "the Scriptures are punctuated with the word "wait"; a sense of active, hallowed waiting can be found on nearly every page of the texts." (p. 3) Advent is the season of waiting, and appreciating waiting for the spiritual discipline that it offers. Here are some resources to accompany you, while you enjoy the wait.
The Advent Wreath at Home Candle Press
Liturgy Training Publications
Metropolitan Museum of Art
An online German Advent calendar with Christmas facts for each day.
The Jesse Tree
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. (Isaiah 11:1). Creating a Jesse Tree is another way to engage with the waiting of Advent. The Jesse Tree is Jesus' family tree. Each day in Advent a bible story is read and an ornament, each representing a symbol to match the story, is added to the tree.
In religious art, The Jesse Tree as an ancient depiction of the genealogy of Jesus can be found in stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts. Jesse Tree Kit
Build Your Own Bethlehem: A Nativity Scene and Activity Book for Christmastime
Gertrud Mueller Nelson with Peter Mazar
Here are all the characters and then some for building your own nativity scene! Each figure is yours to pop loose and set up as the days of Christmas unfold. There is the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. There is the stable with scampering mice and cooing doves that sit in the rafters. There is the ox and ass and a flock of sheep accompanied by shepherds and their faithful dog. There is an angel, of course, and a star. Epiphany's three holy kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, are here too. And there are surprises: the gospel's "senior citizens," Anna and Simeon, who wait 40 days to meet their newborn Lord.
This beautiful, full-color activity book (the pop-out figures are found inside) suggests eight occasions, from Christmas until Candlemas a full 40 daysfor using the figures to tell a portion of the nativity gospels, like a puppet theater! The art of Gertrud Mueller Nelson and the sturdy pop-out figures truly bring the Christmas stories to life.
Building your own Bethlehem is a wonderful way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive well into the new year perfect for home or classroom, perfect for every age.
Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra (an area on the southern coast of current day Turkey) in the 3rd century. He grew up a devout Christian with a ministry to the sick, suffering and needy. He became the subject of many stories and legends and is known as the patron saint of children and sailors.
In some parts of the world, children celebrate his feast day by leaving their shoes by the door where Nicholas fills them with oranges, chocolates and coins.