Thursday, December 8, 2011

7 Days Closer

We have an advent calendar.  Last year we stuffed it with activities. And we did them.  Some were well received and some I would call flops. But we did them. As a family.  We brought food to our local food pantry, we drove around and looked at lights, we watched Christmas movies and drank hot chocolate.  None of these things are bad. Yet none were intentionally pointing little hearts toward Jesus, not in and of themselves. And all of them took careful planning and scheduling and orchestrating and frazzled this mama beyond recognition. 

As we approach the day that Love came down, I want the message to be clear and do my part to ensure the Truth isn’t lost in a bad case of the wants (mine and my kids) and expectations aren’t contained in boxes with pretty bows.  This year, I decided to be very intentional, to teach my children about expecting their Savior, their Hero. This year, I want to help my kids prepare for His coming.

I found this Advent e-book that is perfect! Age appropriate (preschool to early elementary) and engaging with daily crafts and Bible readings. So, this year our advent calendar is stuffed with a word, a clue to be found in Scripture.  It's like a scavenger hunt to engage little  ears as the Christmas story is played out over 24 days. After the reading and finding the clue word in the Word, shouting "The Christ child is coming!" 24 different ways, they use their hands so their heart can grip the Truth and take hold of the promise. 

We are 7 days closer to to laying the Babe in the manger!  Each of these 7 days has held anticipation and excitement. My kids can't wait to open the next door, find the next clue, see how much closer we are getting to the stable.  On Day 1, our stable was empty.  But with each passing day, we get closer to filling it.  Day 5 gave us Mary.  And as we placed Mary in our own empty barn here at home, I noticed how much more real it became to them... connections are being made.  I'll never really know the extent.  All I can do is trust the God who is leading me to teach them, intentionally. The same God who promises His word does not return void.

My kids hearts aren't the only ones gripping Truth and taking hold. The Scripture and clue words have caused me to ponder this miracle with the Giver...again. Here is a snapshot of where our hearts have traveled these last 7 days...

Day 1: Isaiah 9:2-7, CANDLE
The promise, part one. The Light of the world is coming. In it there is no darkness. There is only joy, unending joy.

Day 2: Isaiah 9:2-7, KINGDOM
The promise, part two. A perfect king will grow from the barn of humility to reign justly with righteousness, eternally.

Day 3: Luke 1:1-25, ZECHARIAH
The man who was silenced by God for his disbelief. Will I believe what God says with minimal questions?  Or will God have to hold my tongue so I can see He is trustworthy?

Day 4: Luke 1:26-38, GABRIEL
The time is near – prepare the way.  A baby to tell of the Way.  Then...
The wait is over – anticipate His coming. A Babe from the virgin’s womb.

Day 5: Luke 1:26-38, MARY
The girl who said yes to God.  Mary’s place in the stable is secured with a simple response. “I am the Lord’s servant.”

Day 6: Luke 1:39-45, MARY AND ELIZABETH
Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. ‘Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Then. Not before John responded in the womb. Faith like a child – that spills joy and the Holy Spirit. Jesus would call us all to have faith like this that produces joy, uncontainable joy.

Day 7: Luke 1:46-56, SONG
Mary’s joy could not be contained and now the Holy Spirit revealed the Truth to Elizabeth. Mary could be free in her joy and so she sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord. He has done great things!” Imperfect circumstances for a perfect Lamb.  "He has done great things!"  Sing, clap your hands and shout for joy in all circumstances.  The Christ child is growing... we are 7 days closer!

The Truth has long been revealed to us.  Joy to the world. May my life be a beautiful song of praise and adoration, O Lord.  And may it spill over to those around me...

Anticipating the next 7 days...