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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve




Stephen is nursing a head wound thanks to his little brother (yep, they are both adults) but all is well since he has a titanium spork.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

D'arcy and Julian's Fav Christmas Carols

1. Little Drummer Boy (Julian's favorite. He'll break out in ba rum ba ba bums at random points in time)
2. Charlie Brown Christmas Music (Stephen was so proud when a Vince Guaraldi song comes on in the toy store and Julian looks at Stephen and says "Charlie Brown Music!"
3. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (What kids don't like this song? We were listening to 101.9 which plays Christmas music non stop in S.A. and D'arcy says, "I want them to play Rudolph next!" I was in the midst of explaining that the radio isn't like a CD when all of sudden Rudolph starts playing!)
4. The Friendly Beasts (A great story of animals giving unique gifts to Jesus. It's great to sing during our Advent story times. D'arcy always asks for this when we listen to Sufjan Stevens.)
5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (I didn't realize they knew this one until they both broke out in song after a bath. Julian would finish each line for D'arcy.)
6. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Ok, not a traditional Christmas song, but it is on one of the Sufjan Stevens Christmas CDs and D'arcy has worked very hard to learn the lyrics.)
7. Do you hear what I hear? (D'arcy asks me to turn it up when this one comes on.)
8. Once in Royal David City (Ok, this is mommy's favorite of the year, and is trying push it on the kids.)
9. Frosty the Snowman (Another kid favorite)

Advent Week 3: The Magi & Faith

The third week of Advent began on Sunday, and at our church the children blessed us with a special presentation. The paraded down the main aisle handing out ornaments that reminded us of this week's theme, and then ended on stage singing We Three Kings. A CD and the congregation helped them out because We Three Kings is really not the most exciting of Christmas songs. D'arcy certainly doesn't know what a moor is... Here are some pictures I took on Sunday. D'arcy is standing with two of her favorite friends, Isabel and Catherine. Julian wasn't able to participate in the program since it was for age 3+ so he put on his own presentation, standing on his head.



For the third week of Advent we focused on the Magi who came from far away to seek out the child who was born King of the Jews. We read Matthew 2:1-12.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

And we sing We Three Kings (although if you notice in the scripture there isn't a reference to the number of Kings :) )

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to rein

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Pray'r and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies
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Advent Week 2: John the Baptist & Mercy

The second week of Advent has already past, but I wanted to take the time to highlight what we focused on; John the Baptist & Mercy. At almost the same time as the birth of Jesus, another birth occurred that was rather unusual. A mother who was past the point of childbearing became pregnant with a baby who would one day announce the ministry of Jesus to the Jewish people. We spend this week reflecting on God's merciful plan to send his son to the world as the promised Messiah. John the Baptist was a key player in this plan.

We read Luke 1:57-66 & Luke 1:76-78.

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven.

And we sang O Come All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


So, I just wrote about us celebrating Advent which the kids have been greatly enjoying. They've been playing with our kid friendly Nativity and pretending to read the story of the prophets from my Bible.
In the midst of all this Christ centered celebration, we had an interesting conversation with D'arcy about Santa. In past years, we've not perpetuated the concept of gifts from Santa, no sitting on Santa's lap, not leaving cookies for Santa. However, we have allowed her to "pretend" that Santa exists in that we don't say, "Santa isn't real" every time she talks about him.
The other day, we were driving home from home group, and D'arcy starts telling us that she wants a Cinderella castle from Santa Claus because he gets you whatever you ask for. So we listen to her idea of Santa, and ask a few questions. Then we try to alter the conversation from what she wants from Santa to what Christmas is really about. Ultimately, though, she kept coming back to the fact that Santa is going to bring her what she wants on Christmas day.
As we were getting out of the car, I tell her that Santa isn't real, but it's ok to pretend. She says, "We'll see, mom. We'll just wait and see."
Yep, we'll wait and see. I'm not looking forward to that disappointment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent: The Prophets bring Hope

This Christmas, I've gotten serious about incorporating Advent into our Christmas celebration. I want to instill in my children that Christmas is not simply Jesus' birthday. Instead, I want them to understand that this birth is a great mystery because on that day God became human. This birth was foretold by the prophets of old to Isreal, announced by the Angels to common shepherds, and sought out by the Magi of the East. The birth was for a purpose, not only to end for the salvation of all people, but to train us in the way we should live and to declare that the Kingdom of God is both here and to come.

This is a big job, no doubt. I'm incorporating some materials from our pastor with some materials from an awesome Children's curriculum called Godly Play to help my kids grasp the fullness of what Christmas is. I thought I would share the theme, scriptures, and song we are focusing on each week.

This week (Nov 30-Dec 6) we are remembering The Prophets from the Old Testament who declared to Israel that a King was coming. Today we read passages from Jeremiah and Isaiah.

Jeremiah 33:14-16
"'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.'"

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

This brought great hope to the struggling people of Isreal. We sing the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel in celebration of this great news.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

As we prepare our hearts for the mystery of Jesus' birth, we are glad to think back to the fulfilled promise given to the Israelites. This should reignite hope in us that the promise that Jesus will come again to fully establish the Kingdom of God will be fulfilled.