Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Candles

We're a bit behind this year - December seemed to suddenly be here. Finally got the Christmas candles out today and they are now in position in the middle of the table. 

We've used the same set for a few years as you can tell, but we'll start with a different purple one this year. A new candle is lit each Sunday, and we will talk about its significance then (just a two minute talk).  We light any candles for the week whenever we are home for dinner that week. Tomorrow is the second Sunday already, so we'll light one tonight and two tomorrow. Usually we light the candles before dinner and keep them lit until dinner is over.

Sunday 1:  purple candle one
Symbolising hope
Isaiah 60:2-3

Sunday 2: purple candle two along with previous candle
Symbolising peace
Mark 1:4

Sunday 3:  pink candle along with previous candles
Symbolising joy
Isaiah 35:10

Sunday 4:  final purple candle along with others
Symbolising love
Isaiah 9:6-7

Christmas Eve: all four candles and the white one in the middle
Symbolising the light of Christ
Luke 1:68-79, 2:1-20

ALSO, today is St Nicholas Day, so I thought that at bedtime tonight I'd read the story of St Nicholas, then in the morning we'd try to do secret acts of kindness - we'll chose names from a "hat" for the person to be secretly kind to, and at lunch the kids can guess who their kind person was. I wonder if I'll be able to convince the kids that this is a good idea.  There are lots of stories of St Nicholas online.

(If I'd planned ahead we would have read the story this morning and done the acts of kindness today.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jesse Tree

One of our Christmas traditions is the Jesse Tree.  There are lots of pictures of Jesse Trees around the web - including downloadable pictures to cut out and stick onto a paper tree or pictures for children to colour, so if you haven't started one yet, it isn't too late.

I made ours a few years ago based on someone else's blog pictures, so its time that I posted pictures of ours.  I can't find the original blog that I based my pictures on.  If you know it, please add a comment with the link so that I can acknowledge the owner.

A Jesse Tree has a symbol for each day which is hung (or stuck) onto a tree.  Jesse was King David's father (from the old Testament), so it is named after him (Isaiah 11:1 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit" NIV).  Through December, you read a short passage from the Bible each day, starting with the creation of the World and continuing through to the birth of Jesus, showing God's hand at work and His continual commitment to drawing us back to him.  Each passage has a symbol which is hung on the tree.  (You will find a better explanation elsewhere - this is just the very quick version.)

So ... here is a photo (from a few years ago) of our half completed tree mid December:

(The fluffy yellow thing near the top is not part of it - its a wool felt angel hanging on the wall.)

Now, I'm not going to write a tutorial, just a quick explanation incase you want to use this for ideas.  If you want more details let me know.

We made the stand out of dowel, but you could easily just use any small Christmas tree or a branch.  I put the symbols onto leaves.  They are all made of felt.  I just cut lots of leaves from felt with short brown strips to make loops for hanging.  The loop was inserted into the top of the leaf - which was two felt leaves joined together.  I machine stitched around the outside and added machine stitched veins.  Once I had a big pile of them, I added the pictures.  They are not sewn on, but just ironed on - cut from felt and applique backing, then put together and ironed.  So far they have held together well.

Here are some of the individual leaves.  Some of the Jesse Tree "plans" have just a few verses, some have devotional passages, but I prefer longer Bible readings that we chat about.

(Day 1:  Put up the branch and read Isaiah 11:  1-2)

Day 2:  Genesis 1:1-2:4

Day 3:  Genesis 2: 4-24

Day 4:  Genesis 3:  1-24

Day 5:  Genesis 6:5 - 9:17 (or choose shorter selections)

Okay, that's it for today.  I'll post pictures of more as soon as I have time!