Peace in the Midst of Chaos

 

Advent worship | Second Sunday of Advent | Christmas traditionIt’s not even December as I write this, but our holiday season has taken off like a rocket ship launched into outer space. This week alone, we have daily wrestling practice, soccer practice, two wrestling matches, two basketball (cheer) games, cheer practice, dance class, youth group, band practice, all-day band event at school, and a soccer game. That doesn’t even include dental appointments that I had to cancel because who has time for oral hygiene and dental care?

Chaos. How, why are our lives so crazy? How in the world do we even enjoy Christmas?

We did get our decorations up this weekend, which was a fun family activity, plus I have a slew of cheesy Christmas Hallmark movies on the DVR recorded from the free cable on Thanksgiving weekend. Those things do help bring a sense of calming to an otherwise insane week at our house. (Of course, who has time to watch movies? Maybe I’ll get through them before Easter.)

The other thing we aim to do is light our Advent wreath and have a brief time of family worship most nights of the week. I’ve also subscribed to receive a daily Advent prayer from one of my church’s pastors. You can sign up, too, if you like. Click here.

It’s hard to stay on track and out of the insanity this time of year. It is super-hard — not gonna lie. But it is our goal.

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Using Resurrection Eggs During Family Worship

My favorite time of year is almost here.

Spring.

Longer days, warmer breezes, television show season finales (this is a semi-serious post, but I had to throw that one in there).

Most importantly, we observe and celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ.

I don’t know if it’s even possible to label one event as the crux of Christianity, but I sort of lean towards Christ’s resurrection as being it. At any rate, Easter is my favorite holiday on the Church calendar.

In the resurrection of Christ, we have hope and eternal security that death has no hold on us!

Easter is my favorite because I love all things associated with it. I love the focus on new life, being raised with Christ, and the resurrection that is to come. I love that Christ defeated all aspects of death and I get to partake in that victory because of my union with him.

As I suggested at Advent, these special days on the Christian calendar are an excellent time to begin or return to regular Family Worship times. If you’d like to do this in your family but don’t know where to start, read on for some ideas about Easter.

This Lenten season, our family will once again pull out our set of Resurrection Eggs. We love our Resurrection Eggs! I’ve had our set for years and pull them out annually. These are invaluable tools to teach your kids the Easter narrative, its significance, and how the symbols of Easter relate to Christ’s most important work.

Lent Begins With Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday is today, February 17. Lent lasts for 6 weeks until Easter. You can use the Resurrection Eggs in any number of ways during Family Worship. Here’s what we usually do.

Candles
We have three kids, and all must participate. We continue lighting three candles for family worship time (a holdover from Advent) because our kids like it. They ask to do, “Candles,” which is what we call our family worship time. Three is, obviously, a significant number in theology so there’s always an important metaphor to use with three candles. Of course, candleLIGHT can always be used for applicable illustration. Thus, we continue with candles.


Resurrection Eggs
We then will give each child an egg and instruct them not to open. We go in order and have them open the eggs one at a time. With each token, we talk about its significance and how it fits into the Easter narrative. The kids absolutely LOVE the surprise element of the closed egg. We repeat this several nights in week 1.

You can vary your treatment here: for example, the first night, you use the objects to tell the story; the second night, you read the applicable story from The Jesus Storybook Bible (awesome!) and use the objects to illustrate; the third night, you have the children tell the story using the objects; the fourth night, you review and ask the kids to make predictions as to what will happen next.

If you are using 3 eggs each week, you will only use the kit for 4 weeks. You may want to use other things during family worship on the nights you don’t use the kit or, if you’re like us, your busy schedule means that shooting for 4 nights out of seven is more realistic.


I do recommend, however, that you stretch it over the Lenten season and build the anticipation to Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. In years past, we have opened the eggs the week before Easter and gone through the kit rather hurriedly, but I don’t think it had as much impact or was as much fun as the years we’ve really taken our time.

The Lenten season is prime for teaching your children and training them in the faith. I’ll have some more ideas and suggested resources during the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

photo: morguefile  
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Celebrating Advent With Your Kids: First Sunday of Advent

A photo of our advent wreath last year, taken on Christmas Day. We have Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus surrounding the wreath with our red Christ candle in the middle.

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent.

I remember as a child having an Advent wreath at home. We’d light the candle(s) each week to mark the time leading up to Christmas.

It’s a tradition I want my kids to know and love.

Last year, I finally bought a small brass Advent wreath/candle holder for us. I had tried for years off and on to make wreathes. But with three small kids, I wanted something that was sturdy and safe. Our small wreath is perfect!

Typically, we gather after dinner and read an appropriate Scripture or Bible passage for the corresponding Sunday. We don’t get too technical or too content-heavy. We use our Nativity scene pieces to explain the Sunday (shepherds, angels, and so on). I’ve noticed my kids really learn and relate when they can see, touch, and/or hold a small object. Chris plays guitar and we always sing two or three Christmas carols.

If you want to observe Advent with your kids this year, doing something simple is perfect.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Four candles either in a wreath or even four small votives in separate holders will do. If you do want a wreath, buy it now at a Christian bookstore or order online. You can find one for about $20. Several years, I said I’d wait until after Christmas to buy one on sale. They never put them on sale. So, buy it now! Candle colors are usually three purple or blue and one pink. A fifth candle may be added in the center on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (last year we used a small red candle in a jar) to symbolize Christ.

2. Bible and/or a Children’s Bible. We love, love, love The Jesus Storybook Bible.

3. Music. A musician in the family is wonderful or even some CDs featuring beautiful Christmas music is nice.

Sample order of a Family Advent worship time:

  • Light the candle(s). We allow our kids to do this (when age-appropriate).
  • Sing a song.
  • Read the Bible verse/Bible story.
  • Ask the kids questions to engage them in the learning.
  • Sing a song.
  • Take prayer requests.
  • Close in prayer.

A very basic suggested schedule of Advent readings:

First Sunday: the prophets
Candle of Hope
read Micah 5:2 and light the first purple candle

Second Sunday: the angels
Candle of Peace
read Luke 2:8-13 and light the first and second purple candles

Third Sunday: the shepherds
Candle of Joy
read Luke 2:14-17 and light the first and second purple candles and the pink candle

Fourth Sunday: the magi
Candle of Love
read Matthew 2:1-12 and light all the candles

Christmas Eve or Day
the Christ Candle
read John 1:1-5 and light all the candles including the Christ candle

You may find all sorts of variations of this outline online. In fact, I’ll admit that our family’s schedule is an amalgam of things we’ve read and things we believe will stick with our kids. Tailor your Advent Worship time to your own family.

And a final word: Don’t fret if you haven’t “started yet.” You aren’t late! Just pick up with the appropriate Sunday. We usually do a “little something” about the Advent lesson on most nights of the week during a family worship time. We light the candle(s) every night because the kids love it.

If you’ve wanted to start a Family Worship time or you’ve wanted to re-energize the time you’ve observed in the past, Advent is a great season to bring the family together and focus on Christ.

I’d love to hear more about your Advent and Christmas traditions!

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