Celebrating Advent with a young family

Can you help me? I’m a low-church Baptist turned non-demoninational evangelical who grew in a fundamentalist environment. So I never learned about the Christian year or how to follow the it. One of my 2012 resolutions is to orient time around the Christian year. That year as you might know begins in just a few weeks with Advent.

Here’s where I could use your help. I’d like to find a good Advent devotional for my young family. Does anyone have a recommendation for such a devotional? My kids are four years old so it needs to have pictures! Thanks.

Also, perhaps you could chime in about your knowledge and experience following the Christian Year. I’m going to use Webber’s Ancient-Future Time as my guide.

  • http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2009/11/19/DevotionalReadingsForTheAdventSeason.aspx Rick Brannan

    Hi Joel.

    In 2009 I wanted to do something to help my family with Advent, and also provide a resource for my local church to do the same. I wrote a short devotional for Advent based on passages from the lectionary. It is based on “Year C” readings (which was 2009); this year (2011) is “Year B”. So it won’t follow year B readings, but it might be helpful.

    The devotional is question-and-answer based. There is a passage, and short questions are asked (and answered), with the hope of providing a basis for family discussion.

    http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2009/11/19/DevotionalReadingsForTheAdventSeason.aspx That page has a link to a PDF file that contains the advent devotional.

    Hope it helps.

  • http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2009/11/19/DevotionalReadingsForTheAdventSeason.aspx Rick Brannan

    Hi Joel.

    In 2009 I wanted to do something to help my family with Advent, and also provide a resource for my local church to do the same. I wrote a short devotional for Advent based on passages from the lectionary. It is based on “Year C” readings (which was 2009); this year (2011) is “Year B”. So it won’t follow year B readings, but it might be helpful.

    The devotional is question-and-answer based. There is a passage, and short questions are asked (and answered), with the hope of providing a basis for family discussion.

    http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2009/11/19/DevotionalReadingsForTheAdventSeason.aspx That page has a link to a PDF file that contains the advent devotional.

    Hope it helps.

  • MF

    We use a “Jesse Tree” (as in, “from the stump of…”) where we read through select stories in redemptive history from creation to Christ and each night hang a representative ornament (printed out and colored) on the tree. We read an easy to read Bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible, which has lots of pictures and a big-picture (biblical theology) emphasis.

  • MF

    We use a “Jesse Tree” (as in, “from the stump of…”) where we read through select stories in redemptive history from creation to Christ and each night hang a representative ornament (printed out and colored) on the tree. We read an easy to read Bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible, which has lots of pictures and a big-picture (biblical theology) emphasis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=525372245 Todd Littleton

    Joel,
    Walter Wangerin has a little book, Preparing for Jesus. We used it with our girls.

    To the second matter. I too was/am a Baptist who shares/shared your experience. I found Webber very helpful. We have led our church to follow the Christian Year. Atypical for a Baptist to be sure.

    There is a church in Canada that puts together a calendar for the Christian Year utilizing original artwork – http://www.thechristiancalendar.com/.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=525372245 Todd Littleton

    Joel,
    Walter Wangerin has a little book, Preparing for Jesus. We used it with our girls.

    To the second matter. I too was/am a Baptist who shares/shared your experience. I found Webber very helpful. We have led our church to follow the Christian Year. Atypical for a Baptist to be sure.

    There is a church in Canada that puts together a calendar for the Christian Year utilizing original artwork – http://www.thechristiancalendar.com/.

  • Cindy C.

    Hey Joel!  
    Our Catholic family is about as ecumenically opposite as yours but I love that we’re united in wanting to celebrate the seasons of the church together!  Of course, the purpose of Advent is to see what it felt like to be waiting for the Light of the World to come, all the while seeing glimmers of it on the horizon, so we try to recreate that in our home.  Though Ainslie is too young to benefit from a devotional just yet (so I can’t help you there) we celebrate Advent in a few ways: we start decorating the house, but not entirely–we  put up the tree but only with lights, greenery without any further decoration, you get the idea. Generally, anything with lights goes up, but there isn’t any more decoration.  On Christmas Eve after church we put up the rest in a big celebration together and keep it up until Epiphany. The lighting of our family Advent wreath every Sunday gets attention, and we also pull in the liturgical colors as much as possible, especially around the family table. We have a set of tiles that my friend Kasey made for us, one for each season, with a symbol and the liturgical color for each (Advent is purple with an advent wreath, Christmas is white with a manger scene, etc) that we display near a set of large 3-D letters that serve a similar purpose: in Ordinary time, green letters say ‘Grow’, in Advent and Lent purple letters say ‘Prepare’, during Christmas and Easter glittery letters say ‘Rejoice’. I know a family who took the 12 days of Christmas and did something special together on each of them–watching a movie, driving around the neighborhood to look at all the lights while eating microwave popcorn in the car, a special sledding trip.  It’s a lot of different, small and often unspoken ways to work the thread of the liturgical year into the fabric of our everyday family life.  Hope this helps! 

  • Cindy C.

    Hey Joel!  
    Our Catholic family is about as ecumenically opposite as yours but I love that we’re united in wanting to celebrate the seasons of the church together!  Of course, the purpose of Advent is to see what it felt like to be waiting for the Light of the World to come, all the while seeing glimmers of it on the horizon, so we try to recreate that in our home.  Though Ainslie is too young to benefit from a devotional just yet (so I can’t help you there) we celebrate Advent in a few ways: we start decorating the house, but not entirely–we  put up the tree but only with lights, greenery without any further decoration, you get the idea. Generally, anything with lights goes up, but there isn’t any more decoration.  On Christmas Eve after church we put up the rest in a big celebration together and keep it up until Epiphany. The lighting of our family Advent wreath every Sunday gets attention, and we also pull in the liturgical colors as much as possible, especially around the family table. We have a set of tiles that my friend Kasey made for us, one for each season, with a symbol and the liturgical color for each (Advent is purple with an advent wreath, Christmas is white with a manger scene, etc) that we display near a set of large 3-D letters that serve a similar purpose: in Ordinary time, green letters say ‘Grow’, in Advent and Lent purple letters say ‘Prepare’, during Christmas and Easter glittery letters say ‘Rejoice’. I know a family who took the 12 days of Christmas and did something special together on each of them–watching a movie, driving around the neighborhood to look at all the lights while eating microwave popcorn in the car, a special sledding trip.  It’s a lot of different, small and often unspoken ways to work the thread of the liturgical year into the fabric of our everyday family life.  Hope this helps! 

  • http://thinkingworship.com Stacey Gleddiesmith

    I don’t know of any good Advent readers for children – but I know that Regent College (http://www.regent-college.edu/) has put together four Advent readers, all of which are quite good. I’ve worked on a few of them as an editor, so I can tell you there are some really talented writers involved. One of the most recent readers is called “Welcoming the Stranger” and is available on Amazon, as well as at the Regent College bookstore. They hope to work on a Lenten reader for 2013.

    For kids, I would suggest working with the element of waiting. One idea is to give them some kind of toy that can be broken into 24 pieces – give them a piece each day (with a picture of the completed toy on the first day)… and then put it together on Christmas Eve/Day. An Advent wreath (candles) is also a good visual for kids (three purple candles, one pink, and a white one in the middle – purple first three weeks, pink on the fourth, and white on Christmas). If your family is musical, you might consider singing a song like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” each night as you light the Advent candle. Add a verse each week, but don’t sing the chorus until Christmas.

    Interesting that you are planning to orient time around the Christian year in 2012. I’ve decided to do this as well, and blog about the experience. As my area of study is Theology of Worship, I will also be introducing aspects of the Christian year to our “non-liturgical” church (I don’t like that phrase but, for better or worse, it does communicate something). I hope to include explanitary posts (eg. what is epiphany, and why should we celebrate it); practical posts (what we did and how it did or did not work); liturgical posts (congregational readings, possible song selections, and other ideas for celebrating the liturgical year in a “non-liturgical” church); etc.

    What types of posts would you find most helpful as you journey through the Christian year? Have you done any preliminary reading on Christian calendar?

    • Anonymous

      Stacey:
      This sounds helpful indeed. I don’t have any particular recommendations for your blog. I’ve decided to read Webber’s book, but I’ve not started it yet. What’s your blog web address?

      • http://thinkingworship.com Stacey Gleddiesmith

        thinkingworship.com I’m hoping to start the series this week. I’d be interested to know what you think of Webber’s book!

  • http://thinkingworship.com Stacey Gleddiesmith

    I don’t know of any good Advent readers for children – but I know that Regent College (http://www.regent-college.edu/) has put together four Advent readers, all of which are quite good. I’ve worked on a few of them as an editor, so I can tell you there are some really talented writers involved. One of the most recent readers is called “Welcoming the Stranger” and is available on Amazon, as well as at the Regent College bookstore. They hope to work on a Lenten reader for 2013.

    For kids, I would suggest working with the element of waiting. One idea is to give them some kind of toy that can be broken into 24 pieces – give them a piece each day (with a picture of the completed toy on the first day)… and then put it together on Christmas Eve/Day. An Advent wreath (candles) is also a good visual for kids (three purple candles, one pink, and a white one in the middle – purple first three weeks, pink on the fourth, and white on Christmas). If your family is musical, you might consider singing a song like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” each night as you light the Advent candle. Add a verse each week, but don’t sing the chorus until Christmas.

    Interesting that you are planning to orient time around the Christian year in 2012. I’ve decided to do this as well, and blog about the experience. As my area of study is Theology of Worship, I will also be introducing aspects of the Christian year to our “non-liturgical” church (I don’t like that phrase but, for better or worse, it does communicate something). I hope to include explanitary posts (eg. what is epiphany, and why should we celebrate it); practical posts (what we did and how it did or did not work); liturgical posts (congregational readings, possible song selections, and other ideas for celebrating the liturgical year in a “non-liturgical” church); etc.

    What types of posts would you find most helpful as you journey through the Christian year? Have you done any preliminary reading on Christian calendar?

    • Anonymous

      Stacey:
      This sounds helpful indeed. I don’t have any particular recommendations for your blog. I’ve decided to read Webber’s book, but I’ve not started it yet. What’s your blog web address?

      • http://thinkingworship.com Stacey Gleddiesmith

        thinkingworship.com I’m hoping to start the series this week. I’d be interested to know what you think of Webber’s book!

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  • Paul W

    Our family has used “Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas” and couldn’t be happier with it.

    The focus is more on the nature of God and relating to Him. Each day ends with a life lesson connected to that day’s story.
    1. God is with you night and day to show you the way.
    2. If we trust in God, he will always catch us before we fall.
    3. If you’re ever lost in the dark, remember the shining light to help find your way home.
    4. Even the small and weak can help those bigger and stronger to find their way. kindness
    5. Faith can move mountains.
    6. Sharing with others.
    7. God’s love can warm and brighten the coldest and darkest night.
    8. Helping the needy can lighten our spirits.
    9. God always hears our calls for help.
    10. Be grateful for God’s bounty.
    11. God gives us friends and loved ones to help us on our journey.
    12. Gentleness, kindness, and patience are strenghths
    13. A good deed can bring unexpected rewards.
    14. If we are truly sorry, God always forgives us.
    15. Faith and courage can banish despair.
    16. God welcomes everyone.
    17. God lives everywhere.
    18. Prayers for others please God.
    19. God’s love can turn enemies into friends.
    20. Our faith is music to God’s ears.
    21. Christ has many names, but what’s most important is to worship him.
    22. Miracles can happen anytime.
    23. God inspires wonder in us all.
    24. Meeting the Christ Child… Merry Christmas.

  • Paul W

    Our family has used “Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas” and couldn’t be happier with it.

    The focus is more on the nature of God and relating to Him. Each day ends with a life lesson connected to that day’s story.
    1. God is with you night and day to show you the way.
    2. If we trust in God, he will always catch us before we fall.
    3. If you’re ever lost in the dark, remember the shining light to help find your way home.
    4. Even the small and weak can help those bigger and stronger to find their way. kindness
    5. Faith can move mountains.
    6. Sharing with others.
    7. God’s love can warm and brighten the coldest and darkest night.
    8. Helping the needy can lighten our spirits.
    9. God always hears our calls for help.
    10. Be grateful for God’s bounty.
    11. God gives us friends and loved ones to help us on our journey.
    12. Gentleness, kindness, and patience are strenghths
    13. A good deed can bring unexpected rewards.
    14. If we are truly sorry, God always forgives us.
    15. Faith and courage can banish despair.
    16. God welcomes everyone.
    17. God lives everywhere.
    18. Prayers for others please God.
    19. God’s love can turn enemies into friends.
    20. Our faith is music to God’s ears.
    21. Christ has many names, but what’s most important is to worship him.
    22. Miracles can happen anytime.
    23. God inspires wonder in us all.
    24. Meeting the Christ Child… Merry Christmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Arnold/1138810315 Scott Arnold

    A friend of mine actually wrote such a book. It can be found on Amazon here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Celebrate-Jesus-Christmas-Through-Epiphany/dp/0570071275/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320444762&sr=1-1
    I’m afraid I don’t have a copy any more, but I recall it contained activities for the kids, as well as devotions.

    Scott

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Arnold/1138810315 Scott Arnold

    A friend of mine actually wrote such a book. It can be found on Amazon here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Celebrate-Jesus-Christmas-Through-Epiphany/dp/0570071275/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320444762&sr=1-1
    I’m afraid I don’t have a copy any more, but I recall it contained activities for the kids, as well as devotions.

    Scott

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Arnold/1138810315 Scott Arnold

    Update: Thanks to my wife just getting home, I found our copy! I’ll bring it to church this weekend and let you have it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Arnold/1138810315 Scott Arnold

    Update: Thanks to my wife just getting home, I found our copy! I’ll bring it to church this weekend and let you have it.

  • Matthew Musteric

    We have used the shorter order of the Book of Common Prayer order for Vespers and light a simple Advent wreathe each night. My children were able to memorize the Phos Hilaron about age 3.

    I got it from here and have been using it for years:
    http://www.kingofpeace.org/resources/advent.pdf

  • Matthew Musteric

    We have used the shorter order of the Book of Common Prayer order for Vespers and light a simple Advent wreathe each night. My children were able to memorize the Phos Hilaron about age 3.

    I got it from here and have been using it for years:
    http://www.kingofpeace.org/resources/advent.pdf

  • Anonymous

    Thanks everyone for your helpful and interesting comments. I feel have something with which to work.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks everyone for your helpful and interesting comments. I feel have something with which to work.


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