Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent Decorations

I really want to live Advent and teach the children that Christmas is about Christ's love, Jesus's birth and charitable giving to all.  Its hard to remember when the lights are so pretty, cookies are so yummy, and the sales are in full swing.  

I remind the children with lots of religion rich Christmas books, an Advent wreath on our table and many nativities.  Each night we eat at the table we talk about the advent wreath and do a simple prayer focusing on the gifts given to use by God and what we can do to help others.

But I can't remember the order of the Advent themes.  I confess, I am not a cradle Catholic.  I converted as a young adult because I felt like I was home.  As a result I was not raised in a Catholic home and the Catholic Traditions are not second nature to me.  I really have to remind myself (and the kids) to focus on Advent and God.

I searched high and low for something that would help me.  For a few years I would literally tape a piece of paper to the wall with the themes on it, but a few weeks into the season it would be torn and lost.  

I decided I needed to make something myself.  

I set off to Michael's to gather my supplies; purple and pink paint, paint brushes, thin wood crafting boards, stick on letters and some pretty ribbon.  I painted 3 of the boards purple and one pink.  Then I affixed the letters onto the board.

Affixing the boards to the ribbon was harder and since I wanted it done quickly (to be used) rather than done right, I simply stapled the wood to the ribbon.  *shrug*  It was quick and dirty.  But now we can use it rather than me having to go back to the store to find specialty glue or adhesive.

Then I scoured the internet.  Literally.  I spent hours searching different websites for prayers, themes, Bible readings, etc.  When I didn't find enough for each week I made up my own simple prayers that the children would be able to understand and reflect upon.  I typed up the prayers in 10 pt font and printed them out and glued them to the back.

The biggest pay off, besides a fully functional reminder to pray through Advent and having something beautiful at my finger tips to assist in that process, was the kids reaction.  "You made that, mom?!?!?
It looks store bought!"  I am glad I could show my kids that they can solve whatever problems are before them and that yes, their mother can be crafty without the assistance of a sewing machine or Shutterfly.  

Because I don't want you to spend hours searching the internet with your eyes bleeding I have posted my readings, Bible verses, and prayers below.  Go forth and thank God this Advent season.
Advent Themes

Week 1  - Hope (purple)

Dear God, Please help us to use the gifts you gave us to help all those around us.

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake!...You do not know when the Master of the house is coming.'"Mark. 13:33 First Sunday of Advent

2 The people walking in darkness    have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness  a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul!”  Psalm 25

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.    We are the clay, you are the potter;   we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray,  for we are all your people. Isaiah 64:8-9

Teach us to love the unexpected, Lord, and to answer when you call.

Help us to be cheerful and generous to the poor as St. Nicholas was.

Lord, help us to see all people as our neighbors and to reach out in love.

O Jesus Christ,
Emmanuel, come and dwell with us.
Desire of all nations;
Gift to every generation,
Come, make your home with us.
All nations, everybody,
is waiting for you,
Indians and Eskimos
are waiting for you,
People in New York
are waiting for you.
People in Beijing
are waiting for you.
Jesus, come to us.

Week 2 - Peace

Father in heaven, set our hearts ablaze to follow in the steps of John the  Baptist. May we bring light and love to all we meet, that the darkness of  sin and fear may be overcome. In Christ's name we ask this.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Lord, help us to be the light to those in need

O Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace,
come and save your people.
Joy of every heart,
Strength of those who are poor,
come quickly to help us.
Prince of Peace,
teach the lion and the little lamb,
teach the cat and the mouse,
the the hawk and the tiny bird,
teach everyone who doesn't get along
to live in peace.

When John the Baptizer made his appearance as a preacher in the desert of Judea, this was his then: Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand!" Mt. 3:1 Second Sunday of Advent

Week 3 - Joy

O Jesus Christ,
Key of David,
come and set your people free.
Open the gates of heaven for us;
come, deliver us from evil.
King David was a mighty king
who built a city long ago.
He left a key
that Jesus found in the manger hay.
Key of David, Jesus Christ,
open heaven's gates for us.

Dear God, Your greatness is all around us.  Help me to open my eyes and see it and be thankful.

Dear God, please fill us with the wisdom and understanding of the Lord’s Joy.

As we draw near to you, Lord God, keep us aware of your presence in all we do. Come with power to enlighten us by your grace, that we may live in praise and peace all our days. We ask this through Christ our Lord

18 But be glad and rejoice forever    in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  Isaiah 65:18

Blessed are the children who believe in God and do his good works.  

Week 4 - Love

O Jesus Christ, Holy Wisdom,
come and teach us your way;
Word of life, Word made flesh,
come, speak your truth.
Jesus, come and teach me,
how to sing and play,
how to learn new words;
tell me what to say.
Teach me how to be a child,
for you know the way.

The angel Gabriel said to Mary, "Do not fear, Mary, you shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High..." Lk. 1 Fourth Sunday of Advent

Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

Dear Lord, help us to love those around us, even when we are angry.  Your love heals all.

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