A New City Partner recently contacted me and asked if I knew of an Advent devotional that supplied a daily reading and was appropriate for the whole family. I did some searching around and discovered the “Family Advent Art and Reading Guide”.
I like this resource for several reasons. First, I love the way it builds up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. My experience with a ‘weekly’ devotional has always been less than adequate. Usually, after a week’s time I had forgotten where we were at in the story and spent some to reminding my kids what we had read a week earlier. The daily reading solves that perfectly. Second, I love the fact that it utilizes the Jesus Storybook Bible (JSB). The JSB is by far one of my most favorite resources when it comes to teaching children Biblical, Christ-centered truths. The third thing I love about this resource is the artwork. Melissa Ellen Fink does an incredible job capturing an image that helps tell the story.
So, take a look and see if this is a tool your family could use to celebrate the coming of our King.
I love celebrating Christmas, and I love almost every Christmas tradition I’ve ever met. But once I had children of my own, I realized the idea of Santa Claus was eclipsing the joyous miracle of Jesus’ arrival among us. This made me feel decidedly Scrooge-like.
Now, strange as it may seem, scowling and fuming about “too much Santa Claus” did little to restore the joy of Christmas to our home. So after some thoughtful discussion with my wife, I figured out what was giving Santa the edge in our children’s minds: anticipation.
I wanted us to think about Jesus and the nativity, but I had not provided a sense of his pending arrival. Meanwhile, everywhere we went, my kids were told Santa was on his way. Fortunately, I had a couple thousand years of church tradition to back me up, if only I knew how to draw on it. It was time to learn about Advent.
This involved a lot of bumbling around, especially in my efforts to make our anticipatory traditions kid-friendly. But now I’m excited to share with you my two favorite ideas!
First, I’m a fan of daily readings that gradually tell the story of God’s plan from Creation to Christ. And I’m a huge fan of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible, which both tells the grand story, and explains how each chapter fits within God’s larger plan. With just a little nudge, the Storybook Bible makes the best Advent reader ever! I’ve drawn up a reading guide to make it easy, and written a few supplementary readings to fill out the Advent calendar.
Second, (and this may be your kids’ favorite part): Advent Christmas tree ornaments! My talented friend, Melissa Ellen Fink (www.MelissaEllensLoft.com) has painted twenty-five beautiful, original scenes to accompany the readings— one each day. She has also made an easy tutorial to walk you through printing them, cutting them out, and assembling them to hang on your tree.
May you have a blessed Advent. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!