One of my biggest joys is the advent season, as we remember and celebrate the birth of Christ our Saviour, the fulfilment of so many prophecies throughout history. One of my biggest frustrations is how Christmas often becomes a celebration of materialism, excess, selfish indulgences and loses almost all of that true meaning. Whilst one would expect that of the world around us, who often simply do not know what Jesus came for, I find it especially hard in church when childrens' (and even adults'!) messages focus more on presents, fun, family, food and sometimes even have adults dressing as Santa in attempt to make the message 'contemporary'.
As a home educating family, how should we keep the focus on what really matters?
If your children are older than mine, you may have come across the Jesse Tree before. (A search engine will provide many helpful links to a range of resources based on this concept). I am surprised I hadn't come across it before, because it is just what I had been looking for.
The concept arises from Isaiah 11, where it is prophesied that a root from Jesse will ultimately be the Messiah. It then goes back through the pivotal events in the Old Testament that point towards the coming Christ, from creation, the fall, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and their descendents) and other key individuals in the genealogy of Christ (Rahab, Ruth, Esther etc). Each day there is a short Bible reading and an 'emblem' which can be drawn, coloured or made to hang on a 'tree'. There is so much potential for how this can develop - often our 'school' activities consist of some reading, writing including copywork, drawing and colouring, narration of a story, acting out a story, reading around the area using either the Bible or reference books, and sometimes watching short youtube clips such as biographies or childrens' Bible stories (the Beginners' Bible is particularly good as it is Bible based and does not have too many distracting features in it).
I am looking forward to starting this project tomorrow, and am much in prayer that the boys grow in their understanding of advent and what Christmas really means.
For each day, I have made envelopes with the Bible reference on the outside and the emblems on the inside. This year, I've printed them out and mounted them onto coloured card, and we have a simple branch that is spray painted silver that we will tie them onto. I will use that as the base, and then, depending on interest, energy levels and the schedule for the day, have other related activities up my sleeve. I don't want to push them to do too much, so am needing to temper my enthusiasm slightly with some realism too!
I wonder whether you do anything special for advent, and if you'd like to share some encouragements?
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.