December has begun, and though I have a lot of things I hope to make and tasks I hope to accomplish, I wanted to take some time this year to appreciate the time of advent. To look back on all of the promises and the waiting before our Messiah arrived. And also to be thankful and joyful that I, that we, live on this side of the arrival of Christ. We don't need to wonder when our king will arrive, because he has come!
So, I decided to make an advent calendar, not only to encourage myself to search for some of the historical hints of Jesus, but also to do a wee bit of decorating. Before I made the advent tree our only decorations were colorful stars (with bells) on two of our doorknobs. We won't have many decorations, since our celebrations will be elsewhere, but I thought something festive to help us reflect would be fitting.
Large pieces of green paper (patterned or not)
Various colorful scraps of paper
String and a large needle you can thread it through
Scissors (and perhaps a paper cutter and punch)
You will see that I used scrapbooking paper (or I should say paper I make random things out of) for my green base paper. Cut four strips each 3 inches wide, and of decreasing lengths 10.5 in, 9.0 in, 7.5 in, 6.0 in, and one triangle for the top with a base measuring 4.5 inches from point to point.
For each of the four strips, fold the two ends downward, making the edges of the paper line up, to form the pointed layers of the tree. Don't cut these hidden corners off because they will help your tree pop out from the wall a bit.
Next, cut twenty-five 3 inch pieces of string, knot the ends, and place one bead on each string.
Then make marks on the back of each of your strips to note where you will thread your string. You should have seven on the bottom of the longest strip, six on the next, then five, four and three on the triangle which will be your top (as you can see on my little pink post-it above, or on the pictures of my finished tree). Evenly space them as best you can, and then use your needle to draw the string (carrying your bead) from front to back. If you pierce the paper from back to front the holes will look a little unfinished, and the bead will be on the wrong side.
Now cut 25 "ornaments" out of colorful papers. I was going to cut different shapes, but I ran out of time and needed to make dinner, so I used a 1-inch circular punch and cut uniform ornaments. Number the back of each ornament so you know the order in which you are affixing them to the tree, and also write the reference to the verses you choose for each advent reading. I encourage you to spend a little time searching for Old Testament verses pointing to the coming of Jesus, but since we are already into December and you may not have time to do this, I have provided some recommendations below.
Once you have prepaired your ornaments, use a piece of tape across the back (over your writing) to attach them to the beaded strings. I chose to have day one at the bottom left of the tree, and to finish the calendar with day twenty-five on the top right, but Nathanael was a little surprised with my choice, so do what seems most natural to you. Tape each panel of the tree (or use whatever method is approved by your landlord) to the wall, taping only the hidden corners of the strips so that the tree is slightly three dimensional and so the unread ornaments can remain slightly tucked beneath the tree. Once you read an ornament pull it down and line it up with the bead to create a double layer ornament. Ta da!
Below are the readings I selected. You may rearrange them, or select other verses if you have a little time.
But even if you don't make an advent calendar they are worth reading as Christmas approaches.
1. Genesis 3:14-15
2. Genesis 12:1-3
3. Genesis 15
4. Genesis 22:1-19
5. Genesis 28:10-22
6. Exodus 11:1-12:30 and 13:1-16
7. Exodus 24:1-11
8. Leviticus 16:1-34
9. Numbers 21:4-8
10. II Samuel 7:16 and 23:1-7
11. I Chronicles 17:7-15
12. II Kings 6:8-23 (this one is hear just because it's neat)
13. Job 9, especially verses 32-35
14. Psalm 22
15. Isaiah 9:1-7
17. Isaiah 52:13-53:12
18. Jeremiah 23:1-6
19. Ezekiel 34
20. Daniel 9:20-24
21. Micah 5:2-5 and 7:18-20
22. Zechariah 12:18-13:1
23. Malachi 3 and 4:5-6
24. Matthew 1:17-2:2325. Matthew 3 and Luke 2