A different approach to Advent

This year, my advent calendar involves no chocolate or treats or little doors to open. And there’s no daily blog like last year either.

Jesse’s branch

My mum was keen to do some Christmas craft on a recent family weekend away and my sister Heidi found this idea in this blog post. From this, we learned that some people mark Advent with a ‘Jesse’ tree, based on the words of the prophet Isaiah:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-3

P1070301So we decided to create our own Jesse’s Branch Advent calendar, each one with a different name that is used in the Bible for Jesus, ‘the shoot that will come up from the stump of Jesse’. We followed most of the names in the blog post above, writing the name on the front and the verse on the back, but also added a couple of our own – like ‘Man of Sorrows’ from Isaiah 53:3 and ‘Son of David’ from Matthew 1:1.

Advent tree

P1070307As I couldn’t find any twigs/branches that seemed appropriate, (no local bushland near my inner city home and no nice sticks in the shops), I decided that our new little Christmas tree, ‘Christoph’ would have to do for my Jesse’s branch. I quite like the novelty of adding a decoration to the tree every day! He started off a bit sparse but is now looking well-decorated. Perfect!

Precious names

And I love discovering what name I’m going to pull out of my little bowl each day to hang on the tree. Each one is a promise filled with hope and truth about the one we celebrate at Christmas. Today it was ‘King of Kings’ based on (among other verses) 1 Timothy 6:14-15. I wish I could say I looked up each passage each day and reflected on it…but that would be untrue. I did it for the first time today. Only a few more precious names to be revealed until it’s Christmas!

P1070306

Advent Blog Day 25 – Christmas Day

It’s technically Boxing Day now, but nevertheless, Merry Christmas! After three family gatherings, two church services and our fair share of driving across the city over the last two days, I’m exhausted (and there’s still another lunch tomorrow). So I thought I’d simply share some photos today.

We’ve never done brunch before – it was refreshing to share a different meal!

ready for Christmas Brunch
ready for Christmas Brunch

Opening presents with the family, and a selfie from my brother-in law.

family!
family!

We do a Kris Kringle with my family, and this year I got Dad – he asked for Bunnings vouchers for a proper composter – he looks pretty happy about effectively reusing kitchen waste!

Dad looking pleased with his gift!
Dad looking pleased with his gift!

My sister made this super cute Christmas card for me. Isn’t she creative!

Christmas card by Heidi
Christmas card by Heidi

My siblings may not be impressed, but after finding all of these, I couldn’t resist sharing one of our Santa photos – complete with matching Christmas dresses made by Mum.

memory lane – our 1991 Santa photo
memory lane – our 1991 Santa photo

It may not be his favourite time of year, but I still love sharing Christmas with him.

my love.
my love.

The tradition continues in 2012. Gingerbread house demolition pose:

Adam ready to smash our gingerbread house!
Adam ready to smash our gingerbread house!

Today I got to bring along my first Christmas dessert. The cooler weather worked in my favour and my choc-mint ice cream slice didn’t melt in between home and my Aunt and Uncle’s!

Christmas dessert
Christmas dessert

This is my final Advent Blog for Christmas 2012. What started as a crazy, seemingly impossible ‘shower’ idea, became a very challenging but rewarding journey through advent. Thanks for reading my blogs over the last 25 days.

There will be new posts and new challenging blogging opportunities in 2013. For now, I’m looking forward to doing some more reading and craft during my short break from work, and a little more sleep each night! God bless. Adios.

Advent Blog Day 23 – Why remember Advent anyway?

Today in church, our student minister asked us to reflect on what we’re hoping for this Christmas. A certain present? Quality time with friends and family?

Advent calendar

I have always loved counting down to Christmas Day on advent calendars. Last year I enjoyed having one of the cheap chocolate advent calendars from Aldi. Keeping a blog has been far healthier…except perhaps when it comes to sleep. I remember fondly some of the advent calendars we had when we were kids, and in particular, a felt one that I made myself. For each day there was a Christmas stocking with a unique decoration on it, and each one had a lolly inside and a little slip of paper with a Bible verse on it. I do remember wondering though why there were only 24 days on my calendar. Why wasn’t the most important day included? Perhaps because the wait is over come Christmas Day.

I learned today that the traditional season of advent doesn’t necessarily start on 1 December. It actually starts on the fourth Sunday before 25 December (anywhere between 27 Nov and 3 Dec).

Even if we have simplified the start-dates, there remains significant purpose in advent. According to trusty Wikipedia, for Christians:

The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

Advent is all about Jesus. It’s about sharing in and remembering his coming to earth as a man, the first Christmas – God with us, as well as looking forward with true hope, to his return.

Bible Society #25days Advent Calendar
Bible Society #25days Advent Calendar

I’ve enjoyed receiving the #25words thoughts and videos as part of remembering Advent this year. Today’s email said:

Christmas is one of the world’s great stories. But it’s only the beginning. There’s the life Jesus lived, the teaching he brought, and the benefits of his death and resurrection. Still, there’s better yet to come. Especially to those who are broken, who suffer, as you’ll see:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

As we eat our final chocolate(s) or write our final Advent Blogs, we can remember that Christmas is worth hoping for, but the best is still to come. What are you hoping for this Christmas?

 

 

Advent Blog Day 1

An advent blog.

A crazy idea I had in the shower yesterday. Who would add an extra daily task to the craziest month of the year?

Me it seems. I don’t have an advent calendar, so I thought I’d attempt to mark each day of advent with a short blog post. Plus I rarely feel like writing on here, and writing something short can be a challenge…so two birds, one stone, here goes.

Day 1 – 1 December

I just put up our first Christmas decoration:

Noel

This pretty handmade hessian bunting was a very impulsive purchase at some markets in the city last week. I saw, I liked, I bought. That doesn’t happen often! Figured it was the one time of year when I could get away with putting bunting up at home. 🙂