Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jesse Tree: Day 5

Noah and the Flood
Tonight we hear from Genesis 6-9.  We have heard how the first man chose to turn from God, and broke communion with Him.  Now we hear how his descendants have followed the same path, descending ever deeper into darkness and further from the love of God.  This is a challenging story to read to children. It is hard to imagine the reality of this event.  To imagine God wiping most of His creation off the face of the earth.  Yet, we must also recall that God offered such incredible grace and opportunity for repentance.  Noah prepared for over one hundred years.  Over one hundred years for people to repent, to turn from sin, to turn back to God.  Only Noah chose to walk with Him.  And so God made His covenant with Noah, and set the rainbow in the sky as a sign.  Our ornament for today is a rainbow created from pony beads and cotton balls, and we love how it glows in the evening light!  Our Nativity book reading continues from last evening, with A Perfect Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nativity Reading: Day 4

Tonight we began reading A Perfect Christmas.  It is a longer one, so we will likely spent the next couple of nights reading portions of it.  I love the illustrations by Niko Chocheli, made even more meaningful by our experience meeting him.  He is truly a kid at heart (he spent one evening with my son playing soccer with ping pong balls until close to midnight!), and I find his drawings to have an intensity and beauty that match the stories he illustrates.

Jesse Tree: Day 4

The Fall

This evening we take time to consider how humanity turned away from God.  In Genesis 3 we hear how Adam and Eve chose themselves over God.  Because of that decision, sin and death entered the world, and God's beautiful creation became ill.
The ornament for our readings is a small red satin Christmas ball, on which green felt leaves are glued.  It is a fitting reminder to us as Orthodox Christians as we enter this fasting season.  What a profoundly heavy knowledge it is, that the first disobedience of God was one of food.  It is a sobering reminder each time we are called to fast, if we take a moment to consider that little detail, and ponder how many times we choose that which we have been asked not to eat.  It is also a profound message on the healing power of striving to follow the fast.  As we submit ourselves to the church and God, we draw closer to Him.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nativity Reading: Day 3

One of my favorites.  If you are looking for an excellent book that lays out the Christmas story, answers many questions children have, and offers very theologically correct answers, this is one of the best.  A gift from the crocodile hunter's godmother, we have been reading this book for over 10 years now, and we all still enjoy it!

Jesse Tree: Day 3

ornament a lovely gift from our swap
Today we consider the creation of man.  We again contemplate Genesis 1.  God created man in His image and likeness.  He made man, unique and intelligent; not evolved from any other being.  He made man to walk with Him, to be in communion with Him.  He made humanity that we might grow to be more and more perfected, more and more like Him.  God also made man and woman that they might perfect each other.  The union of man and woman is a sacred one, ordained by God at the very beginning of creation.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nativity Reading: Day 2

Our book for tonight was Silent Night.  It was fun to have two nights in a row of books that were hymns.  We enjoyed singing these old favorites together!

Jesse Tree: Day 2

world ornament
Today we consider the beginning of our world.  The scripture comes from Genesis 1.  We contemplate with our children the wondrous gift of creation.  God made all things from nothing.  He is the beginning of all, and without Him there is nothing.  He entrusted to Moses the truth of the beginnings of our earth, and we read those truths in the first chapters of Genesis.  In six days, God spoke, and matter came into being, obeyed His every word, and formed itself into the tangible world we experience today, albeit in a less than perfect state now corrupted by death.  Our ornaments today reflect the creation of the earth, and the creation of the sun.

As Orthodox Christians, we must be sure to communicate to our children the un-negotiable truths of the Orthodox faith.
God has no beginning, and no end.
God is the author of all of creation.
God created all things from nothing.
God made each living being of creation according to its kind, to reproduce according to its kind.
handmade from wool felt received in ornament swap

God made man in His likeness and image - man was created a unique being, evolved from no other being or creature.  He was given body, soul and spirit at his creation and was in communion with God at his creation.  

So today we contemplate the beauty and immensity of this creation.  All of creation is God's gift to us.  He prepared an immense banquet table of gifts, with us as the honored guests.