Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent... Coming... Preparing for Him.

You might be seeing this word all over the place in your Facebook or Instagram feeds today. Just what is Advent and why are people talking about it? 

from Wikipedia
Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churchesas a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday.
Basically Advent is the time from Dec 1st-25th (or countdown to Christmas), when we spend time each day focusing on the biblical reason for Christmas and on the second coming of Christ. But it can be many different things to many different people. 
Growing up, we had (and my mom still has) a large Santa with little numbered pockets on it for the "countdown to christmas". Each pocket would be stuffed with some kind of small present for Misty and I. Hands down this was both of our favorite thing about Christmas growing up. The presents were always really small things but it was the exciting anticipation of knowing we had something to check each day. Loved it. 
Here at the Pate house, we have what is called a Jesse Tree (more on this below) to help us celebrate Advent. Mr.Pate and I have been doing this for three or four years now. And this year my sister got me an awesome advent calendar that I also hung up called "The perfect advent calendar". It has an activity to do each day, a scripture to read and a short focus or spiritual challenge from that scripture. Very neat and oh so cute. 
So I thought I would link up several great ideas I have seen to help you brainstorm what your family can do this year to celebrate the advent season this year. Enjoy! 
1. Jesse Tree:
Jesse trees are an old tradition that is being rediscovered all over the United States. It is based on Isaiah 11:1 - "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots" and is a way of teaching the Old Testament background for the Messiah, and showing how all of God's promises have been fulfilled. The Advent season is a wonderful time to reaffirm God's faithfulness, and the lessons of the Jesse tree help do so.
A Jesse tree can be a small tree, a banner, a tree branch, a mobile, or any other thing used to hang ornaments. A special ornament is hung each day of the Advent season, and a corresponding short reading teaches the story and meaning for each ornament. 
Mr.Pate and I used the picture suggestions of Ann Voskamp, bought a cheap set of ball ornaments one year and drew with paint pens and sharpies on them. They are rough! haha! But full of character and fond memories. We use Ann's free devo that you can find here. 
For other Jesse tree info or devo's (there are tons of them), I recommend just googling or Pinteresting "Jesse Tree". 
2. Make your own schedule:
Several of my friends have just sat down and made there own advent activity schedule for the month. So one night they may read Christmas books, one night go see Christmas lights etc. The point is to be intentional about being together and making memories. Here are two friends ideas and a Pinterest find :-)

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