Another Advent tradition I started last year with the children is the Jesse Tree Advent guide by Ann Voskamp.
There is a scripture reading, devotion, and ornament for each day. I forgot that it started a little early, so we did a bit of catching up on Sunday. I also learned last year that the devotions are a bit much still for my children--they are still a little young--so we read the scripture and I try to hit her main point to explain why this passage was included. Then they take turns putting the ornament on the tree. We don't make a separate tree for it, because I don't wanna, and really, the point of Christmas is what we are reading. It should be on our Christmas tree.
Grace would also like to recommend this book to any of you with smaller children. It has felt figures to act out the story on each page.
Every year our church publishes an Advent Devotional booklet. My entry is featured today, so I thought I would conclude with it:
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts it mouth.
I sat in my car outside a nearby church, waiting and thinking. A woman had stopped by our church that morning after her car ran out of gas downtown. She was trying to get to an appointment for utility assistance at another church and had stopped at our church thinking she had made it. She was pushing her two year old daughter in a stroller and the cold front was blowing in. I knew I had to help. I started to take her to get her car started but quickly realized she HAD to make her appointment. I took her there and sat waiting, thinking about her situation. A single mom trying to care for a toddler, yet disabled by a bulging disc in her spine and unable to work. She willingly had taken in the two children of her ex-husband, children headed for foster care. Desperate to make this appointment yet her car died on the way. I could not imagine her day-to-day burdens, and the seeming hopelessness of it all.
She came out of that church a changed woman. Her anxiety and tears were replaced by joy and relief. The bill was paid, and as an added bonus, she had a warm, pink coat for her daughter and a couple of small bags of food. These acts of compassion by others had given her new hope. It was a quick fix, yes, but these actions were not worthless. They renewed her hope that God was listening, that God cares about her and her family. Her situation does not have a quick fix, but this hope will help her take the next steps for a better life. She knows that she can depend on God.
Every day we have opportunities to share God’s love with others, whether through our words, our actions, or both. This is how God works—through us and in us to reveal His love and glory to others. He sent Jesus to earth for this purpose and works through us in the same way. It is how hope can be restored. Today pray that God will guide you to someone who needs a bit of hope, and listen for his answer.