Thursday, December 4, 2014

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Each year, our family chooses to celebrate advent with the Jesse Tree. It's a beautiful way to remember that Christmas isn't just about a baby born in a stable to a peasant girl; but a redemption story that is woven throughout all of history. Each evening we stop and pause to celebrate the coming of a King and anticipate his coming again.

It's like a deep breath for the soul. A space to step away from the chaos of the season and remember why Christmas changed all of history.

This year we're going through Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. This beautiful book is perfect for our family to celebrate advent this year. Hearing again the story that started from the beginning of time of a loving and faithful God who entered into our world to enter our mess and make all things right.

Once, in the truest story that you have ever heard, His-Story, which is really your very own story, there was this family - Jesse's family. A family that was like yours, like a tree with branches of these relatives and those brothers and those sisters - a family that loved each other and hurt each other and forgave each other and failed each other. A family that failed God...

This is how the book starts. And I wept when I heard those words because this is how our advent this year started as well. 

More than any other time, this year for our family has been marked by loving and failing and hurting and forgiving each other (just click the marriage tab on the right and you'll get a picture of the big messes God loves to redeem). And hearing the good news that Jesus entered into our world to rescue us from all of the brokenness is a beautiful reminder. One that in this season is good to hear night after night after night.

Included in the book are resources for Jesse Tree ornaments and printables. This year, with our family together for the first time in awhile, my heart has longed to keep things simple. It's always easy for me to get caught up in the prefect decor and traditions and family pictures. But this year it seems right that things are quieter and there's more room to revel in God's gift to us.

So instead of scouring Pinterest for the perfect homemade advent tree, I printed off the simple coloring ornaments and hung them with twine and washi tape in our breakfast nook. The kids color each story and every day we take a peek at each gift; God's rescue plan unfolding. Then every night, as we gather the kids by the fire and read God's redemption throughout history, the simple story is exactly what I need to hear in the midst of a complex world.

Jesus comes right to your Christmas tree and looks at your family tree and says, "I am your Rescuer, and I will set you free from all the brokenness and sinfulness and sadness.  I'll be the Gift...Who wants to wake up on Christmas morning with a heart that wants the greatest Gift the most?  Who wants Jesus more than anything else?

My prayer for our family this advent season is that we would see God's redemption plan throughout all of history, and so evident in our own family tree, and continue to learn to want Jesus more than anything else.

To see how we've celebrated advent in past years, check out these posts on celebrating advent with a Jesse Tree and with the Jesus Storybook Bible.

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