Like the person who no longer eats hot dogs after seeing how they are made, once I learned about how the Christmas trees and greenery stemmed originally from a Greek celebration to the god Saturnalia, I have not been able to decorate that way. Nope. No tree, no wreaths, no green and red.
It's a personal thing. I've tried to get over it, but really, I can't.
A few years ago, my husband and son built a beautiful wooden manger. We bring that in for Christmas, and it holds our gifts, symbolizing the gift the manger once held for us.
I'm a stickler for accuracy. Mindless inaccuracies in the different accounts of Christ's birth--they bug me. I mean, people say that He wasn't even born in December. And the wise men didn't come to the STABLE, right? The Bible says they came to a house. So when did they get there? And my Bible doesn't mention a stable anywhere. It just says "manger." So people assume it's a stable? But weren't animals often kept in an outer room of a house? So is that the house the wise men came to? Not to mention, the historical account called "The Gospel of the Birth of Mary" says it was a cave.
Truth is important to me. Celebrating Christ's birth, to me, is worship, and worship must be done in Spirit and in TRUTH.
Advent is another area I have had a problem with. It is commercialized. Non-Christians all over the world play "Advent." They purchase Advent calendars of every kind to help their children count down to the day they get to open presents. Even our non-Christian relatives will buy my children an Advent calendar or game--but not to worship Christ. To count down to the goodies.
Grr. So, I've never given a thought to Advent--dismissed it like so many other mindless things I see people doing, without meaning, without worship, and without truth.
But, our Christmas worship and celebration has always been lacking. I pray every year for God to show us how to celebrate in a way that is pleasing to Him, and a testimony to others.
And this year, His shepherding and leading continues, faithfully, as always.
I have been reading a lot about church history lately, and I have been learning new and good things about the history of the birth of Christ, and gaining some new insights on the old sacred Christian traditions behind the celebrations. I've been learning new tidbits of history that make a difference for me, since historical accuracy is important.
And it seemed God was hinting to me that Advent was a great way to celebrate Christmas properly. I mean, REAL Advent. Every day, reading about the birth of Christ, the prophecies leading up to it, and recounting the wonderful work He came to accomplish. What worship!
I give thanks to Elizabeth Foss and her lovely post on Advent that gave me a glimpse of what really celebrating Advent could be--meaningful, worshipful, Christ-centered, prayerful.
A lightbulb went on. I asked God if it would be pleasing to Him, for me to lead the children through Advent, celebrating His birth in some way each day, reading about Him, doing an activity about HIM, praying. Worship. I thought, "Well, I guess I could look for a good Advent calendar, and see how it goes."
And yesterday, my 19yo son came to me and said, "Mom, I'm thinking of getting the boys an Advent calendar for Christmas. What do you think?"
I smiled wide and the angels sang. And what Advent calendar did he want to purchase for his four little brothers? Nothing could be more perfect:
So, we are ready to "launch," as you can see. I'm not planning much more at this point. I've learned that God already has it all planned, and I don't need to worry. I'm sure I will find a nice schedule of scripture reading, and be able to collect some nice storybooks, and we will be able to draw, and sing, and paint, and bake, and pray, and give thanks.
and Worship. Worship God, and the birth of His Son, and all that means for us.
For 24 days in a row.
Bring it on!
I think we're doing a good job of getting in the Christmas Spirit around here... and I'm feeling more than I have for a long time. Clouds of confusion are lifting away as I just submit to worship--which is what my heart really longs for after all.
But in case you need a little help... what better than Christmas music piano practice, a toddler temper tantrum, and some wild, running little boys getting ready to play the Wii? Filmed this yesterday afternoon here in my "peaceful" living room.
Well, it's peaceful to me!
And, one of my favorite child milestones is that moment when your little one realizes he can write whatever he likes. Yesterday, my 4yo wrote independently for the first time, and what do you know? He made his "Christmas list." Not of stuff he wanted. Of stuff he wanted to give to everyone else. It is quite telling, though, what in his eyes are good gifts for his father and me (food-related).
Here is the interpretation, followed by the photo: