_mg_6208_11The Story-Formed Christian Seasons calendar provides a cycle for telling the stories of God. It gives us a framework for listening, celebrating and doing – and provides natural opportunities for all of us (including our children) to grow in wisdom and faith.

So as we come to the end of a calendar year (at least using the Christian Season calendar), I want to be intentional about how we begin this next cycle of seasons – Advent and Christmas. I know if I do not prepare now, I will have many good intentions but few plans that come to fruition.

Here is some of what we plan to do to get ready and to enter the Advent and Christmas seasons:

Placing visual and symbolic elements on our kitchen table

Since our table is the gathering place of the family each evening, it seems the best venue to display our symbolic elements. We will spend time each evening reading, reflecting, and praying so I want there to be visual elements around us too.

I am going to use a long blue table runner (blue is the color of Advent). The Nativity will be placed at the center of the table but will not contain Mary, Joseph and the Baby until the last week. I will have 6 candles on the table as well representing 6 different names and stories we will tell over the 4 weeks of Advent (we will use the “O Antiphon” writings found in the blog).

Evening Prayer

I am writing some biblical study and prayer forms that we will use each evening. It includes different passages from the scriptures that point us toward Advent and the story of the coming of the Christ Child. We will read it together and engage certain stories on specific evenings. (I will give calendar dates for what we will do when.)

For those will little ones, I will put in an alternate form. Perhaps only one of the passages of scripture and then a short activity would suit certain families (and attention spans) better.

New Year’s Eve Party

We are inviting friends over on Saturday, November 29th for a “New Year’s Eve Party” because for those of us following the calendar, November 30th begins a new year and marks the beginning of Advent. We plan to use the colors from the each season in decorating the table and we will all share a meal together. We will probably talk a little about each season and its significance and the Story that we tell during that season that shapes us.

We may spend some time in the “Hallel” Psalms (Ps. 113-118) because those songs focus so much on thanking God and we’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving as a nation. We will most likely take from the Rosh Hashanah tradition of eating apples dipped in honey to remind us of God’s faithfulness in the year that has just past and looking forward to tasting His sweetness in the year to come.

(This is a new event for us, so it is a big adventure. We’ll let you know how it went and everything we did after it is over!)

Gathering Books for Christmas

During Advent, I will be pulling out my 12 favorite Christmas books and wrapping them up. Then, during each day of the 12 Days of Christmas, the kids will unwrap a book and we will read it together as a family.  (I have listed my top 12 books elsewhere in the blog.)