Saturday, 25 November 2017

Preparing for Advent

The year has absolutely flown by, and once more we are approaching Advent. I love Advent. I love taking the time to reflect on just how amazing Christ's incarnation was. I find having a very intentional approach to be a powerful antidote to all the distractions that different cultures may offer at this time of year. And I love watching how my childrens' understanding of what God planned since the beginning unfolded increases year on year.

This will be our fourth year of using a Jesse tree project - I've written about our experiences here, here and here. Each year, we add something. Last year, I wanted to add something that helped the boys focus on godly character, and chose the area of kindness. I have seen a few websites which list 'kindness tasks' to help a child take the focus of themselves during advent, but many of the tasks were not possible or applicable to us living in East Africa. So, I amended the list to suit our needs. I put one of these tasks into each of the Jesse tree envelopes and then gave a week of 'grace' for the task to be completed (it seemed a little contrived to insist that it was completed that same day - I wanted to encourage thoughtfulness). We had a checklist where each boy had a column and we could tick off when the task was achieved. Here is our list in case you would like to try something similar.

1.       Write a letter
2.       Offer to help with something when it is not your turn
3.       Say something encouraging to one of your siblings
4.       Read a story to one (or more) of your siblings
5.       Make a card for somebody
6.       Bake somebody a cake
7.       Help one of your brothers tidy his box
8.       Make a thank-you card for Irene (sports) or Sara (choir)
9.       Find a toy you no longer use to give to somebody
10.   Help tidy the garden
11.   Set the table without being asked
12.   Draw a picture for somebody back home
13.   Tell somebody how much you love them
14.   Write a note for one of your brothers, saying kind things
15.   Teach somebody something
16.   Help to cook dinner
17.   Invite some friends round to sing carols
18.   Skype somebody you have not spoken to for a while
19.   Ask somebody how they are
20.   Ask how you can help
21.   Tidy the bookshelves in the play corner
22.   Bake something using a recipe you have not made before
23.   Share something with somebody

24.   Let one of your brothers have first choice

This year, I also want to focus on character, and will include the kindness tasks. Other visual things we have done at times are 'fruit of the Spirit' trees - a large picture of a tree with nine branches, each representing the fruit of the Spirit. Each child is given a colour, and when they have displayed one of the fruit, they are allowed to draw their fruit on the right branch. It is a useful way of getting the children to reflect on their actions and consequences.

I am also quite challenged by the verse, 'Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds' - the children do not always consider others, and how they can be encouraging. So I may try and think of some tasks that encompass this area.

I hope to have a little time over the weekend to plan more. I wonder what your plans for Advent are, and what activities you incorporate to build family traditions and have a household that focusses fully on Christ at Christmas?

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