Each week for Advent we will be posting activities that you can do individually or as a family by John Lewis from his book, Finding the Treasure in Christmas: A Guide to celebrating Advent for Families —
Special Activities for the 1st Week of Advent:
- Make/buy your Advent wreath. The “evergreen” symbolizes eternal life, and the circle,
- His never-ending love.
- Put up the tree. As this tree came from nature, Christ came from His natural place in Heaven to be with us and bring us new life. (If you have an artificial tree, use your imagination.)
- Read a suggested story from the New Guideposts’ Christmas Treasury, found in Appendix II.
- Watch options: Charlie Brown Christmas (Theme: Jesus is like the little green tree); How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Theme: The light and life of Christmas are not found in stuff but in the heart).
- Start by lighting the first Advent candle, which is the “Prophecy Candle.”
- Read Isaiah 9:2 and Isaiah 11:1. These verses are prophecies, messages given to God’s people long before Jesus was born. Do you notice how Isaiah 9:2 says, “. . . those walking in darkness will see a great light?” As we light the first candle, we are reminded that God brings light and life to the world. These prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus, as we read in John 1:4: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of us all.”
Every year, our family’s first Advent tradition is to cut down our tree, put it up in our house, and decorate it with lights. But where did this tradition come from? Legend has it that centuries ago, on a Christmas Eve night, Martin Luther looked up at the forest trees with the moon and stars behind them. Inspired by this beautiful scene, he introduced the tradition of the Christmas tree and candles (this, of course, was before the invention of electric lights). The candles stood for Jesus, the light of the world. The green pine tree, already a recognized symbol of life in ancient Druid festivals, became a symbol for Christ’s abundant and everlasting life.
The rich greenness of a Christmas tree stands in bold contrast to the stark landscape of Jesus’ homeland in Israel. The stars over ancient Bethlehem shone brightly in the countryside darkness. Jesus came as light and life, and what a welcome gift He was and is! As the Apostle John reminds us in his Gospel’s introduction of Jesus (John 1:4), Jesus is all about light and life.
“Welcome, Christmas, bring your light:” set in the context of the true meaning of Christmas, this quote from, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” perfectly sums up our wish for Advent.
- Hang up inside/outside lights. When it becomes dark, shut off all the house lights. Sit in darkness for a moment, and then plug in your lights. What is an example of how Jesus brought light to the world when He was on Earth.
- How has He brought light and life to you and to our family this year? (e.g., provision for our needs, wisdom, understanding, direction, relationships, new things, etc.)
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” (especially verse 3, “Lightand lifeto all He brings…”)
Lord, Your light is greater than our darkness and shows us the way. Your life is greater than what our world and its ways could ever offer us. Where we are still living in shadows, shine brightly this Christmas season. Where we thirst for Your life, keep us expectant and eager. May our lights and tree remind us how You are ready to meet us with Your light and life. Amen.