Archives: Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? #7
Traveling To Bethlehem
A Calendar Through Advent and Christmas
Imagine, right now, all over our planet, people of every race and age are getting ready for Christmas. Just how are we to prepare ourselves for this great festival? What can we do to make our homes ready?
For fifteen centuries the thoughtful and quiet season of Advent has been there to help us make and follow the plans needed to orient our lives towards Bethlehem, and to prepare us for Jesus' victorious return.
In late 20th century North America the world around us at this time of year is a busy and chaotic place. For many people, the weeks before Christmas have turned into a dizzying frenzy of shopping, decorating, party-going and traveling. More than ever, we need to observe Advent. For some this will be a new experience, for others, it will be a time to re-experience all this season can truly be.
Through daily thoughts and actions, this Advent calendar helps us begin to experience the peace and joy the birth of Jesus brings.
Nov 27 Sunday. Choose an organization you want to support this Christmas. (You may want to see Alternative Giving.) Decorate a can to hold the money you collect while using this calendar.
28 Monday. Advent was originally a time of self-examination. Take a few moments to think about and write down 3 hopes you have for this Advent. Place your list along with the lists of other household members in a sealed envelope.
29 Tuesday. If you plan to decorate a tree this season, consider purchasing a live root tree. Have a tree planting ceremony for the new year to give thanks for the blessings of the season. (Ask your local nursery for planting tips.)
30 Wednesday. Read Jeremiah 33:16. Let family members ask for particular kinds of safety this season: from interrupting, from teasing, to hear words of love, to try something new. Make a family commitment.
DEC 1 Thursday. Jesus is referred to by many names in the Bible: Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, etc. Make a list of the names you can think of and meditate on the significance of each one. Give 5¢ for each name on your list.
2 Friday. Think of those in your family and community who may find Christmas a difficult time - an elderly person, a single parent, an unemployed person, a person who has recently lost a loved one. Invite them for dinner or for coffee and cookies.
3 Saturday. Spend some time with your family. Turn off the TV and play a favorite game. Bake cookies together. Read a story aloud.
4 Sunday. Plan a meeting with those in your extended family to discuss Christmas giving. Or write a letter to your family outlining your ideas for alternative giving. (See "What Can I Give...".)
5 Monday. Make music a part of your Christmas celebrations. Organize or attend carol singing at church, in your neighborhood, at home. Give 10¢ for every Christmas song you hear this week.
6 Tuesday. Some people exchange Christmas gifts today, St. Nicholas Day. How would this practice change the focus of the rest of the season? Could this tradition be used or adapted in your family next year? Talk it over.
7 Wednesday. Do you know the names of the people who collect your trash? Find out. Offer them a gift of baked goods or invite them to your Christmas party. Read Luke 14:12-14.
8 Thursday. What gifts do you want this Christmas? Give 10¢ for every non-material gift you hope to receive.
9 Friday. Learn about holiday food traditions in other countries. Try one out.
10 Saturday. Rearrange all the furniture in your living room until Christmas. Let it remind you of the need for change, for seeing with new eyes.
11 Sunday. Consider sending handmade Christmas cards. Gather your family and make one-of-a-kind greetings using construction paper, crayons, markers, glue, etc.
12 Monday. Read Philippians 1:3-11. Make a list of the people in your life for whom you are thankful. Give 5¢ for each name.
13 Tuesday. How can you bring good news to someone in need this week? What rough ways can you help smooth?
14 Wednesday. Today is St. Lucia Day. Lucia wore a crown of candles to light the way as she carried food to Christians hiding from their persecutors. Turn off the lights and light candles in the room. Pray for those who live in fear today.
15 Thursday. Today people in Mexico celebrate the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a celebration popular with the poor and Native Americans. Learn more about this holiday.
16 Friday. Bethlehem means "house of bread." Make gifts of bread for teachers, neighbors, a church soup kitchen.
17 Saturday. One Scandinavian tradition calls for a sheaf of grain to be fastened on a pole to provide a Christmas feast for the birds. Fill a birdfeeder with seed or scatter bread crumbs in your yard. Give 1¢ for each bird you see today.
18 Sunday. Read Philippians 4:4-7. What are you worried about? Meditate on this passage then offer a prayer.
19 Monday. There is less than a week till Christmas. Do the elements of inner and outer preparation, anticipation and celebration seem balanced? Consider your goals and priorities for the rest of the week.
20 Tuesday. As you shop for Christmas foods, consider using cloth bags or reuse the bags from your last visit to the grocery store.
21 Wednesday. Are you welcoming visitors this holiday? Imagine them as magi coming to celebrate the birth of Christ. Imagine yourself as an innkeeper. Give 25¢ for every guest in your home this season.
22 Thursday. Take some time to look through photographs of past Christmases. What do you see and remember? Choose one photo and share a favorite story that it brings to mind.
23 Friday. A Russian legend tells of Baboushka, a woman who was too busy cooking and cleaning to journey with the magi to see baby Jesus. Set aside 30 minutes today to visit the Christ Child in your heart.
24 Saturday. Open the envelope containing your lists of hopes for Advent. Think about or discuss with those in your household: How were my hopes realized this Advent? What would I do differently? Give 50¢ for each hope.
CHRISTMAS. Imagine the nativity anew. "A baby with olive skin, dark eyes and curly black hair was born of Jewish parents in an impoverished 3rd World country. This Jewish child was born into slavery... . " (Catholic Agitator, Dec. 1991)
CHRISTMAS DOES NOT END AT MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 25th! In fact, the 12 days of Christmas are just beginning. The great festival of Epiphany is not far off. Don't take down your decorations. Don't put away your manger scene. Continue your Christmas journey and joyous celebration.
26 Monday. Read Acts 6-7. Today is Boxing Day, the day we remember St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Fill a box with food or clothing and give it to someone in need.
27 Tuesday. When have your neighbors been a blessing to you? Give 10¢ for each situation you can remember.
28 Wednesday. Read Matthew 2:1-18. Where are children in danger today? Pray for the children of the world.
29 Thursday. Remember the times when you have been sick this year. How did the people around you care for you? How can you care for those who are ill?
30 Friday. So often we take blessings for granted. As you go through the day, jot down things you are thankful for. At bedtime, offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Give 5¢ for each blessing.
31 Saturday. A Spanish custom has people place each person's name in the "urn of fate." Two names are drawn at a time and each pair is best friends for the coming year. Draw names in your family and do a kind deed for your pal daily until Epiphany.
JAN 1 Sunday.Give the gift of time. Teach a child to play a game from your childhood.
2 Monday. In some ways Christmas is fading, isn't it? Choose a part of Christmas to carry into this new year with you. Share your plans at dinner.
3 Tuesday. Look at the shoes in your closet. Consider the different kinds of journeys you undertake with each pair. Give 50¢ for each journey you can think of.
4 Wednesday. Epiphany approaches. Many years ago the magi journeyed toward the place where the Christ Child rested. Go outside and look at the night sky. Can you see any stars? Take a moment to think about what guides you toward Jesus today.
5 Thursday. Look around you. What are your three most precious possessions? What would lead you to give those away?
6 Friday. On Epiphany, the magi brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What gifts would Jesus want today? Give the money in your giving can to the organization you chose to support.
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