Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 8

Circle

Ecclesiastes 1; Psalm 90:1‑2; Psalm 93:1‑2

“Will the circle be unbroken by and by, Lord, by and by? There’s a better home awaiting in the sky.”

Man lives, and his life and glory are played out in a few short years, a mixture of gladness and pain. He weakens, dies, and sinks into the dust from whence he came. Another takes his place, and within a few generations even his memory is lost forever. Consider those things for which men struggle and die: power, glory, and wealth. It all crumbles. The universe itself had a beginning, and will one day perish in fire and darkness. Whether peasant, king …or galaxy, everything faces the grave.

To the man who says there is no god, this seems like the end of the story. But to the man who knows the Risen Lord, this is just the beginning. God, who created time, is not bound by time. He exists independently of past, present and future. Before anything else existed, God was, and if everything else passed away, He would still be. The circle is a fitting symbol for God, with no beginning and no end.

Our lives seem like a segment of a line, bounded by our birth and our death. But Jesus rose again, proving that man will also rise again. For 40 days after His death, Jesus walked this world. After that, He ascended into the next. Our lives will not end, and death is more like a change of address. Those who love and follow Christ will rise again to eternal life with the Lord, the source of everything good. Those who do not follow Christ will rise again to eternal life without Him, and suffer for all time without light, without love, without beauty, and without peace.

The circle or ring is the symbol used in Christian marriage to signify love that goes on forever. It reminds us of the love we will share with one another and with the Lord in Paradise.

Like the triangle, the circle is everywhere about us. Tires and tools, pots and pans, cakes and cookies, hats and faces, and thousands of everyday sights remind us that God is eternal. In His wise providence, He has provided many ways for us to remember His attributes, His character, and His goodness towards us, if we open our eyes to see.

As we celebrate Advent, let us thank God for His eternity, and for the eternity that we will share with Him. Knowing that God is there and always will be in spite of our failings or spiritual blindness brings us comfort beyond measure. We know that He hears, that He acts, that He is for each of us. The next time you are doodling away and draw the inevitable circle, think of the God you serve and His majesty and power. Thank Him for His strength and comfort each day.

 

 

 

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 7

Twelve Pointed Star

Luke 6:12‑16; Philippians 2:12‑18

The twelve pointed star represents the twelve apostles of Jesus.

Simon Peter was married, owned a house in Capernaum, and ran a fishing business with his brother Andrew on the Sea of Galilee. He, along with his business partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were the disciples closest to Jesus. Peter is mentioned more times than any other of the twelve, wrote the Gospel of Mark (with John Mark) and first and second Peter, and is generally considered the leader of the apostles.

James and John, who Jesus nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” for their zeal, were with Peter at the Transfiguration and close to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on His final night. James became the first disciple to be martyred, and John, the “one who Jesus loved”, led the church at Ephesus, was exiled to Patmos, and wrote the books of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, and Revelation.

Philip of Bethsaida was a disciple of John who came to Jesus and brought Nathaniel (possibly also called Bartholomew), whom Jesus identified as meditating under a fig tree, as well. Matthew was a tax collector from Capernaum who wrote the first gospel. Thomas followed Jesus with intensity and loyalty, but refused to believe in the Resurrection until he saw for himself. Less is known of James, son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot*, and Judas the son of James. Judas Iscariot, another Zealot, and one who never grasped Jesus’ nature or mission, was His betrayer.

Jesus personally picked these twelve ordinary men to deliver His message throughout the world. Each failed miserably at times to obey in faith, as when Peter denied the Lord and when they all fled at Jesus’ arrest. Each failed miserably at times to even understand Jesus’ message, as when James and John wanted to call fire to consume the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), and Philip said “show us the Father…”, even though he should have known that seeing Jesus was seeing the Father (John 14:8). Yet on the whole, with the power of the Spirit working in the hearts of men to reveal the Gospel message, they prevailed. Christianity, which started out as 120 people in 30 AD (Acts 1:15), grew to over 100,000 in the Roman empire by AD 100, only 70 years later. Today, about 2 billion people worldwide proclaim the name of Christ. No other religion touches so many lives.

As Christians, we can remember the men represented in the 12 pointed star. We can take comfort because if God can accomplish His perfect will through them, He can do the same in us, no matter our background and past. Just as the moon reflects light, we have been chosen by Jesus to shine in a corrupt and broken world, reflecting His light to those around us.
In the hustle and bustle of this special time of year, don’t neglect the feeding of your light which enables it to shine forth with the story of our Savior. Let these times of devotion provide discipline and strength for the times in which it is most difficult to shine for Him.

*the Zealots were a nationalistic political group wishing to overthrow Roman rule

O Holy Night

O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine! O night when Christ was born!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the Wise Men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our Friend.
He knows our need – to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

 

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 6

Fish

Matthew 4:19; 14:13‑21; Matthew 15:32-39; Luke 24:42-43; John 21:12-14

Since antiquity fish have been a major food source for people, and in ancient times fish were also an object of worship.  Coins picturing a woman with a fish tail honoring Atargatis, the Syrian “Fish Goddess”, were found at Ashkelon. Deuteronomy 4:18 specifically prohibits the Hebrews from creating images of fish to worship. 

God demonstrated His provision for His people when Jesus used five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000, seven loaves and “a few fish” to feed 4,000, and fish and bread to feed His disciples after the Resurrection.  He also provided proof of His bodily resurrection when he ate.  Christ’s early and great promise to his disciples, seven of whom were fishermen, was that He would make them “Fishers of Men”. 

The Greek word for fish (ἰχθύς ichthys) is formed by using the first letter of each of the words in Greek which stand for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”  As such, it was used as a symbol for Christ in the early church.  Early Christians would identify themselves to each other by drawing this symbol and thus avoiding the attention of foes.  The fish was also used as a direction symbol to places of worship.

Just as Jesus, early Christians often lost it all; family, friends, possessions, loved ones, and even their lives, for their faith.  Within only a few years of the Resurrection, Stephen the deacon was stoned by a Jerusalem mob (Acts 7) and James the apostle murdered by Herod Agrippa 1 (Acts 12).  In the succeeding centuries, Christians have been beheaded, crucified, thrown to the lions, and burned.  Even in modern times, Christians have found themselves in Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and Maoist prisons.  Believers in Christ are sometimes beaten, imprisoned, tortured and murdered for their faith in the Muslim and Hindu worlds, and throughout the earth. 

Western Culture, dominant on the globe for nearly 500 years, is built on a Judeo-Christian foundation.  But many at home and abroad want to crush this bedrock, and followers of Christ are more and more feeling the blows.  

Children of the King need never be afraid.  Since the dawn of time, the people and Church of our Lord have survived and grown despite the furious hate of Emperors, Secularists, Skeptics, Dictators, Monarchs, Bigots, and Fools.  The Word of God is the most powerful force in the universe, and Psalms 2 reminds us that nothing can stand against the works of the Almighty. The Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.  

During this Advent season, let us remember that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  The gates of Hell will not prevail against His people (Matthew 16:18).  Each time we see a fish, let us give thanks for those who were not afraid to suffer for their faith. Let us speak boldly for Christ, sharing the blessings He has given us yesterday, today and forever. 

The First Noel

The first Noel, the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

For all to see there was a star
Shining in the East beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
The wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
Who hath made Heaven and earth of naught
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 5

Triangle

Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 3:16, 17; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-10; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34

December 5 – Triangle

Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 3:16, 17; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-10; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34

A preacher once remarked “A God who is small enough for our brains would not be big enough for our needs.”  The Bible is truly the word to man from the infinite, almighty, eternal God.  Just as we cannot grasp “infinite”, “almighty”, and “eternal”, so we also cannot fully grasp many other teachings in God’s word.  The Trinity is one of these teachings.  How can God be one, and also three?

Reason tells us that there can be only one God, for how can more than one infinite being exist?  Divine revelation lets us see that the one God eternally exists and reveals Himself as three persons.   

The Bible is clear that God is one, and also that God is three; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Christians use symbols such as the three leaf clover, the egg (white, yolk and shell), and even the composition of man (body, soul and spirit) to help wrap our minds around this profound mystery. 

The triangle is another such symbol.  With its equal sides representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the triangle communicates the equality of the persons, their teamwork, and because the triangle is inherently the strongest geometric shape, their strength. 

The passage in Deuteronomy reminds us not only that God is one, but also that we need to place reminders of His love and His teachings everywhere in our world.  We should also remember that God Himself placed such symbols as the triangle throughout His creation to help us remember Him. 

Knowing that such common symbols as the triangle represent important truths in our Christian faith gives special meaning to our lives. If we get in the habit of looking for these symbols, we will discover that they are abundant in our world. Look around as you move through your day and see how many triangles you can discover. Bridge struts, the letter “A”, road signs, mountains and often plants have many triangle shapes. These symbols are a constant reminder of His presence and His caring. Look for them during this special time of year and throughout the New Year to come. Be reminded of our Savior and His love.

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 4

Anchor Cross

Jonah 1; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; Acts 27; Hebrews 6:19‑20

Few things are more terrifying than to be tossed helplessly in a raging storm at sea.  Capsizing, running aground, being washed overboard, and breaking up, all often fatal, are only a few of the dangers.   The crew’s best hope is to jettison cargo, find a sheltered place (if possible) and anchor firmly. 

In antiquity from Polynesia to the Mediterranean, anchors were often grooved or pierced stones.  By the first century A.D., Romans were using anchors with arms and flukes (similar to the traditional and more recent kedge anchor).  The arms allowed the anchor to dig deeply into the gravel and mud on the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, or into the lime, clay, sand and mud on the Mediterranean floor.  A properly set anchor cannot quiet the storm, but it can bring the ship and its crew safely through. 

The disciples, many who were experienced fishermen, likely had many stories of life threatening tempests.  The Apostle Paul endured storms and even shipwreck.  In every case, the Lord protected them, whether on the Sea of Galilee or in the Mediterranean off the coast of Malta.  Better than any anchor, Jesus calmed the sea, and brought them through the storm. 

How fitting, then, that this Christmas anchor is shaped like a cross.  Even as Jesus brought His people through disaster on the water, so He brings us through disasters in our lives.   Crime, sickness, injustice, and pain are inevitable on our earthly journey.   Our hearts break as parents die, children disobey, jobs are lost and health is shattered.  Our strength fades when loved ones betray, dreams are crushed, wealth fails, and our bodies wither.  Like a sailor’s, our best hope is to jettison the distractions in our lives, find a sheltered place in His word, and anchor in His love.  Sometimes the Lord “calms the sea” by taking the situation away.  If He does not, though, He always brings us through. 

Even through the ultimate and eternal storm, that of sin and death, Jesus, by His death on the cross and resurrection, has delivered those who love Him.

As we put our hope in Christ, we study and obey His word.  As we learn his word and speak to Him in prayer, He builds our faith and makes us better able to trust Him (Rom 10:17).  We know that Jesus will be faithful to His promises and work His perfect will in our lives.

While contemplating the symbolism of the anchor-cross with our loved ones this Christmas season, let us resolve to remember Christ each time we see an anchor, or a storm.  Jesus is, truly, the anchor for our souls. 

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.

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above.
Glory to God, all 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.

Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n.
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.

 

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 3

Messianic Rose

Isaiah 35

Tucked between chapter 34, which describes the judgment of God against many nations, and chapter 36, which tells of the terrible Assyrian invasion of Judah, is one of the most beautiful of God’s promises for His people.  Isaiah 35 tells what happens when the living water that only the Messiah, Jesus, can provide, floods into the driest of lands.   “The desert shall … blossom…” has long been considered a Messianic Promise, and the rose has traditionally been the flower mentioned by the Scripture.   Although the actual plant in chapter 35 is one of the bulb family and more closely resembles a crocus than the modern rose, the stylized rose (five petaled) has been called the Messianic Rose for it refers to the promise of a Messiah. 

In this passage God’s people hear of encouragement to the exhausted and strength to the feeble.  We are promised sight for the blind, hearing for the deaf, leaping for the lame, and joyful shouting for the dumb.  Land which was formerly considered desolate and worthless now has the glory of Lebanon, the majesty of the mountains, highways of righteousness, and safety for God’s people. 

Writing between 720 and 700 BC, Isaiah could only have known through the eyes of faith the fulfillment of his words.  Around 30 A.D., Jesus encouraged, strengthened, healed, and fed just as Isaiah wrote 700 years before.  Looking back from the 21st Century, we know that the promise of a Messiah came true and we have the wonderful story of how that happened. Even now we do not have the whole story, but when the Messiah comes again in glory, each line of this marvelous promise will come literally true. 

Have you ever considered the many symbols of our Christian faith that are in evidence around us all the time and that we so often take for granted? Flowers, butterflies, birds, trees‑‑all these have significance for us as Christians and serve to remind us of the love of our Father who has given us these gifts.

As we with our families consider our gracious Lord each day during the Advent season, and every day in the year, let us take time to notice the innumerable reminders of His love, and thank God for them.

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

 

 

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 2

Six Pointed Star

Genesis 1, Psalm 8, Colossians 1:15-18

The first of the Christ symbols is a six-pointed star, a symbol with a long and checkered history. It is used currently on the flag of the State of Israel. Previously it served to identify the Jewish people during World War 2, on the ancient and mystical “Seal of Solomon”, and in idol worship in many cultures.   More importantly, the six-sided star is the Star of Creation. The six points, six outer triangles and six sides of the inner hexagon reflect the six days of creation of the universe.

Jesus Christ, the focus of Christmas, is the ultimate creator; He has created all things. Out of nothing (Latin “ex nihilo”), He created everything that exists in the universe. The fabulous intricacy of the human body, the web of life, the awe-inspiring beauty of nature, and the bewildering variety in the universe overwhelm us with a sense of His amazing wisdom and power.

As you place the six pointed star on the Advent calendar and read about the creativity of our Savior, think about the significance of this symbol.

Ponder the creation of light and darkness, and the fundamental role that energy plays in the universe. Consider the heavens and the earth, the plant world, the sun, moon and stars, and the animal kingdom. Meditate on the mystery of Man, the pinnacle of God’s creation, and his responsibility to oversee the world, and to love and serve his Maker.

Made in God’s image, and using resources in the world He has made, we also create. Art, music, architecture, literature, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics, whether done by a novice or a master, are examples of human creativity. Most amazing of all, man and woman come together in the ultimate human creative act…producing a new life.

Advent season is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, God the Son. He has created a magnificent universe for His glory and our blessedness, and we as reflections of Him should create for the glory of God and the benefit of others. Let us rejoice in this great mission as we ponder the Star of Creation.

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With th’angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail th’incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 1

Christmas Tree

Genesis 1:1, 11-12, 24‑31; Genesis 3:22-24

Hang your tree up today.

Plant life forms the basis of life on earth; providing oxygen, food, shade, building materials, fabrics, and fuel. Plants also remove waste products, including carbon dioxide, and other human and animal waste. Life on earth would be impossible without plants.

Trees are the largest and often considered the most noble of the plants. Evergreen trees such as spruce, pine, and fir, seem to live through all seasons. Trees have long been symbols of the life sustaining power of God. Our reading today reminds us of their fundamental role in Creation, finding ultimate expression in the Tree of Life.

Christmas is the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, to earth. Jesus is the Creator of all things and the source of physical life. He is the perfect sacrifice for our sins and the fountain of living water providing eternal life for those who believe.

Do you know where the first Christmas tree came from? There are many theories, some reaching as far back as Saint Boniface (born 7th century, died 5 June 754). Trees had long been important in pagan worship in Northern Europe. Donar’s (Thor’s) Oak, located in the state of Hesse, was considered sacred by many in Germany. In a challenge to the pagan deities, Boniface began to chop down the oak, and suddenly a strong wind blew it over. When Boniface was not struck dead by the Germanic gods, the people rejected them and accepted Christianity.   They continued using trees in services, but rather than worshipping spirits in the trees they worshipped the One who made the trees.  

Another story tells us that one evening Martin Luther was walking home through a forest in Germany. As he looked up through the trees he saw a host of twinkling stars in the dark sky. He thought about the Star of Bethlehem. As he gazed at the stars framed so beautifully by the branches of the fir trees, Luther was filled with awe. He wished that he could take that lovely scene home to his family so he cut down a small fir tree, took it inside his house, and decorated it with tiny flickering candles.

Green is associated with life and living things. The shoots and signs of growth in spring remind us of the color green. The evergreen Christmas tree speaks of life that will never end.

As you put up your Christmas tree today. read of Saint Boniface and Martin Luther. Turn out the lights and sit in the dark quietly. Light a candle and have the Scripture read. First the passage in Genesis and then John 12:44‑50. Sing softly the German Christmas carol “O Christmas Tree.” Think about the gift of God, Jesus Christ, which has made our own everlasting life possible.

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

 

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
How often you give us delight
In brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me.

O Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur
zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!

 

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Dein Kleid will michwas lehren:
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit
Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Das soll dein Kleid mich lehren.

 

Advent Tree Family Devotions – Getting Started

Advent Devotional Tree ornaments 1 Advent Devotional Tree ornaments 2

Celebration #1 – The Advent Calendar

The season of Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continues until Christmas Day. Traditionally, Advent calendars have had windows to open which mark the days between December 1 and Christmas Day.

This Advent calendar is based upon the idea of marking the days between those dates and using Christmas symbols to help us remember some of the significant events in the Christmas story and the history of our Lord’s life.

It is also based upon the idea of making a devotional calendar as a family to make this time of sharing each day a special part of the family’s celebration of Christmas.

These Advent decorations are historic symbols and are commonly used on Christmas trees. They were first designed and used by the earliest Christians and were found on jewelry, utensils, in the catacombs and in buildings. They are symbols used by the early church and by the church today to show the peoples’ faith in Jesus Christ. This faith is evident to all who view the symbols. They are always made in gold and white to symbolize majesty and purity.

We hope that as you make and use your Christmas Advent calendar, you and your family will more fully experience and enjoy Christmas, and create memories that will endure for generations. As we were created in God’s image to be creative, let your ability find full expression as you create your decorations together.

Each day there is a Bible reading and a devotional reading.  On most days, a Christmas carol follows the readings.  It is not necessary to read every Bible passage or sing every verse listed, but only as many as time and inclination allows.  Share the opportunity to read the Bible, read the devotion, and lead the carol, among family and friends.  Consider using these in church or in Bible studies. 

Our family enjoys sharing the devotions around a table or in a living room bright with Christmas lights and candles.  Sometimes we have egg nog or hot cocoa with Christmas cookies.  

The Advent Calendar and Symbols

There are several ways to make the Advent calendar. You may use paper, felt or other fabrics or materials, and adorn your decorations with sequins, beads and pearls and other trimmings.

Steps to follow:

1. Enlarge the tree pattern onto newspaper or a paper bag.  Cut your tree from green felt, construction paper, or some other material.

2.  Choose an appropriate neutral color for the background if you wish to make your tree and calendar into a banner.  Otherwise you will need to hang the tree from the top to the wall.

3. Using white and gold paper or felt, trace around the patterns or cut them right from the book and use them as a pattern.

4. When you are finished with the decorations, if you choose felt, decorate with sequins, beads and other trim as desired. Make them as fancy or ornate as possible for this is part of the symbolism.

5. If you make your decorations from paper, draw in some of the details as for example on the grapes, shell, etc.

6. There are two ways to attach the decorations to the tree. You can use velcro or snaps (for the felt only). Glue the velcro dots to the back of the decoration and to appropriate places on your tree (the ends of the branches and along a trim line (either imaginary or one you have glued on) Rickrack works great for this.

7. You will need 23 envelopes. Number these and put the appropriate decoration in each one.

8. Each day read one of more of the Scripture passages given, and then read the devotion.  Afterward, remove the decoration from the envelope, and attach it to the tree.

9. On Christmas Day the devotion to read does not include putting a decoration on the tree, but rather refers back to several that have already been affixed to the tree.

10. On Day 1, hang the tree and begin the observance. On all the other days, attach the decoration to the tree.

11. You may make all the decorations in advance or make them one at a time, each day, as your family chooses. If you choose to make them each day, be sure to allow enough time to complete the each one before reading the devotion. It is a good idea to have the patterns cut out in advance.

Supplies you will need – paper, pencil, scissors, eraser, large piece of green felt or construction paper 12 x 18″, large piece of white and gold paper or felt, velcro snaps (if using felt and velcro is not desired) glue sequins, beads, pearls, etc. needle and thread, rickrack and/or other gold trims, small silk flowers (for felt decorations), piece of ¼ or 1/8″ doweling to hang tree if a banner is made.