If you, like me, grew up without Advent, you may not have any idea what it means. Essentially, it's a season of preparing one's heart for the coming of Christ. As Christians, we believe that God came once to the Earth around 2000 years ago and that He will return again in His perfect time. Advent reminds us of the time that He came as the baby Jesus and points our hearts to the time that He will return again.
To help us accomplish this in the Crutchfield house, we use a Jesse Tree. It's really a simple idea. Each night, starting on December 1, we gather as a family and listen to a little bit of the story of God and His people. We read Scripture, share a devotional, and hang an ornament on our Jesse Tree. (There are many different versions of the Jesse Tree. With so many stories to choose from, not everyone picks the same ones.) For this year, we are using Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift as our guide.
Because the idea of hand making 25 different ornaments is just more than I could fathom and because I know I have some amazingly creative and crafty friends, I put out a plea for them to join me in an ornament exchange. This year I had nine friends and their children take on the challenge. Together we made 24 different ornaments, each depicting a different part of the story. Here's what we came up with. (I missed getting a picture for Day 6 and we weren't able to get Day 20 this year. I'm planning to make an ornament for that day and will update when I get around to taking pictures of those.) I've included a heading and a Scripture for each ornament. I was amazed to see my friend's interpretations of each part of the story.
Day 1: The Stump
Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot. Isaiah 11
Day 2: The World
In the beginning God created... Genesis 1
Day 3: The Snake in the Tree
So (Eve) took some of the fruit and ate it. Genesis 3
Day 4: The Ark
It broke His heart...I am sorry I ever made them. Genesis 6
Day 5: Abraham is Promised a Legacy
All the families on Earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12
Day 6: Abraham and Sarah have a Baby
Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age. Genesis 21
Day 7: The Sacrificial Ram is Provided
So Abraham named that place The LORD provides. Genesis 22
Day 8: Jacob's Ladder
As [Jacob] slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. Genesis 28
Day 9: Joseph's Coat of Many Colors
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. Genesis 50
Day 10: The Ten Commandments
The LORD said, "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever." Deuteronomy 5
Day 11: Rahab's Red Rope
I know the LORD has given you this land. Joshua 2
Day 12: Grain from Boaz's Field
Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.
Day 13: King David's Crown
And the LORD said, "This is the one; anoint him." I Samuel 16
Day 14: The Light
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Isaiah 9
Day 15: Fire From Heaven
The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!"
I Kings 18
Day 16: Jonah's Big Fish
The LORD gave a message to Jonah..."Go!" Jonah 1
Day 17: Little Town of Bethlehem
You, O Bethlehem, are only a small village...Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you... Micah 5
Day 18: Xerxes' Scepter
Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this? Esther 4
Day 19: Habakkuk's Watchtower
I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. Habakkuk 2
Day 20: Zechariah and Elizabeth have a Baby
He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Luke 1
Day 21: John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near! Matthew 3
Day 22: An Angel Visits Mary
Mary responded, "I am the Lords' servant. May everything you have said about me come true." Luke 1
Day 23: An Angel Visits Joseph
She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means "God is with us." Matthew 1
Day 24: Jesus is Born in a Manger
She gave birth to her first child, a son. Luke 2
Day 25: Christmas Forever, for Everyone
The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today!
December is sometimes a crazy and always a busy month. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, we sometimes lose the real meaning in the chaos. I would encourage you to take a few moments every day to spend with your family, reflecting on the TRUE meaning of Christmas; Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. God, who left His throne in Heaven to be born as a baby in the humblest of places, among the humblest of people. Messiah, who healed the sick and ate with the sinners. The Christ, who rather than condemned, pardoned. Jesus, who loved even those who betrayed Him. The Lord, who saw you and said that you were reason enough for Him to send his Son as the ultimate sacrificial lamb.
As we approach Christmas my prayer for you is that you will know the Light of the World loves you. That you will see the gift of the baby Jesus for what it is: God's love for you.
Merriest of Christmases to you, my loves.