Saturday, November 26, 2011

Advent Tree: Week 1

For those of you who want to try an Advent Tree at your house, here's what we're doing. After dinner each night Eliana reads the passage listed and I give the lesson. The kids take turns adding the leaves to our tree. Starting on the far left, and working clockwise, these are the images for the first week of advent:

Adam and Eve
Noah (ark)
Abraham (stars)
Isaac (ram)
Jacob (star of David)
Joseph (coat)

Since this is the first year we've tried this, we'll be working out the kinks along the way. The passages I've chosen are rather long, so you may want to give your own paraphrase or use your favorite children's Bible instead, depending on the ages of your children. Let me know if you're trying this at your house, or if you have another way to keep Jesus at the center of Christmas!

Day 1 - Eden (God's Perfect Garden) - Read Genesis 2:4-25 and Genesis 1:27-28.
Usually advent starts with the birth of Jesus, but the story actually begins at the beginning of time when God created a special place – a garden – and made it a home for the man and woman he created – Adam and Eve. He gave them each other to work as a team doing an important job, filling up the earth by having children and teaching them to obey God and take care of his creation. God himself was present there in the garden, and Adam and Eve were with him.
Where did Adam and Eve live? In the garden God made!
What was their job? To fill the earth and take care of it.

Day 2 - Adam and Eve (Fruit with Snake) - Read Genesis 3.
God’s perfect world was soon spoiled because Adam and Eve failed to trust him and follow his plan. After listening to the snake, they blamed each other and hid from God. They had to leave God’s perfect garden and accept the consequences of their choice – pain, conflict, and hard work. But God promised that someday one of their children would crush the snake’s head.
Why did Adam and Eve have to leave the garden? They disobeyed God.
What was God’s special promise to them? Someday the snake would be crushed.
What was the job they were supposed to do? Fill the earth and take care of it.
How will Adam and Eve do their job now? (this is a rhetorical question)

Day 3 - Noah (Ark and Rainbow) - Read Genesis 6:9-22 and Genesis 9:12-17
Adam and Eve’s children, and their grandchildren and great grandchildren had a very hard time obeying God. The earth was getting filled up, but not with people who obeyed God and took care of each other. It was full of wicked people! But Noah was different. He obeyed God. Would he be the one to kill the snake? God made a special promise, called a covenant, with Noah. It was the same agreement that God had made with Adam and Eve. He said he would never destroy the earth with the flood again, and he told Noah to have children and fill the earth and take care of creation.
Why did God choose Noah to build the ark? He obeyed God and listened to him.
What was Noah’s job after the flood? To fill the earth and take care of the world.

Day 4 - Abraham (stars) - Read Genesis 12:1-4a; 15:1-6; and 21:1-5
Many years later God spoke to a man named Abram and gave him special instructions. Abram obeyed God, even though it meant leaving his family far behind. God promised that Abram and his wife Sarai would have as many children and grandchildren and great grandchildren as the stars in the sky. He changed their names to Abraham and Sarah as a sign of his promise. Remember God’s instructions to Adam and Eve and then to Noah? They were supposed to fill the earth with children who would obey God. But it took a very long time before Abraham and Sarah had any children at all. Finally, when they had almost stopped hoping, God’s promise began to come true. Sarah gave birth to a baby named Isaac.
Why did Abraham and Sarah need a baby? So they could teach him to obey God.
What did God promise Abraham and Sarah? As many children as the stars in the sky.

Day 5 - Isaac (ram) - Read Genesis 22:1-18
When Isaac was a big boy, God asked Abraham to do a very hard thing. Isaac was the son God had promised him, but now God was asking Abraham to give him back to God forever. It must have been a very confusing and difficult time for Abraham, but he obeyed God right away and brought Isaac to the mountain God showed him. When they got there, though, God could see that Abraham trusted him, and he gave Abraham a ram to sacrifice instead. Isaac would be able to grow up after all, and have children and grandchildren and fill up the whole earth with people who would obey God and take care of the world.
What was the hard thing God asked Abraham to do? To sacrifice his son, Isaac.
How did Abraham respond? He obeyed right away, even though it was a very hard thing.
Is he the one who will crush the snake and fill the earth with people who will obey God and care for the earth?

Day 6 - Jacob (Star of David) - Read Genesis 28:10-19
Isaac became the father of Jacob. Jacob had trouble with his brother, Esau, and with his father, Isaac, and he had to run away from home. One night on his journey, he had a dream. In his dream, God told him that he would have so many children they would be like the dust of the earth. Remember God’s promise to Abraham about the stars? This was just like that promise. It was God’s way of telling Jacob that his promise to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, would still come true, and it would happen in Jacob’s family. Jacob got married and became the father of twelve sons. Would one of them kill the snake? Would they have many children and fill up the whole earth with people who obeyed God and took care of creation? We’ll have to wait and see!

Day 7 - Joseph (special coat / sheaves of grain) - Read Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-18, 23-28; 39:2-6; and 45:4-11
Jacob had 12 sons, but one of them was Jacob’s favorite. His name was Joseph. He showed everyone how much he loved Joseph by giving him a very special coat to wear that was better than all his brothers’. They were not happy, and they stole his coat and sold Joseph to be a slave in Egypt. But Joseph kept trusting God and obeying him, even when he was in Egypt, and soon Pharaoh put in him charge of the whole nation. Joseph made sure there was enough food for everyone, even his brothers who had been so mean to him. Because Joseph did what pleased God, he was able to save the lives of his family and they became a great nation with thousands of people! It was the beginning of God’s promises coming true.
Why was Joseph put in charge of Egypt? Because he trusted God and obeyed him, even when it was hard.
How did God use Joseph to care for his people? Joseph made a plan to save food so everyone would have enough.

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