Creative Advent Calendars

November 13, 2008

It’s been pretty amazing browsing through various blogs and seeing all the different creative ideas folmuffin-tin-adventks have for Advent Calendars.

So far this year I’ve seen Advent Calendars made out of:
clothesline & clothespins
a hardware organizer with drawers

The new entry today: a muffin tin! I never ever would have thought of that in a million years. (more links here) Cute! I wonder if there are edible goodies inside!?! 🙂

Photo credit:  QueenVanna blog

Dr. Peter Toon: The Collect that Overcomes the Defect of our Prayers

November 13, 2008

I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading Dr. Peter Toon’s blog, but the other night as I was browsing there I found several interesting posts looking at how some of the traditional Anglican collects can help us to pray. I posted another post two days ago. Here is a second post by Dr. Toon.

In The Book of Common Prayer (1549, 1552. 1604 & 1662) there is a collect, printed at the end of the Service of Holy Communion, and composed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, that was not intended for any particular part of the Church Year or for any special occasion. Rather, it was made available for possible use to clergy and heads of households after the normal content of worship and prayer had been offered to God. Here it is in the very traditional English language of public worship:

“Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, who knowest our necessities before we ask, and our ignorance in asking; We beseech thee to have compassion on our infirmities; and those things, which for our unworthiness we dare not ask, and for our blindness we cannot ask, vouchsafe to give us, for the worthiness of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I do not know about you, but for me this prayer seems to fit my situation more often than I care to admit!

The point is that whether we use a superior or inferior type of liturgy, whether we perform acts of devotion in a crude or creative way, and even whether we prepare ourselves for worship as carefully and fully as possible, we are still going to offer—before the absolute perfection of God—defective and imperfect worship and prayer to the Father. The fact of the matter is that, while we are called to be saints but are not yet saints, there is much in us and about us that is constantly in need of the cleansing and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Let us now analyze the collect, beginning with the opening address to the Almighty God, the Father of the Lord Jesus.

The full entry is here.

James 1:2-6

November 13, 2008

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2-3)
      Thank you, Jesus, for the many trials that are coming our way in the Episcopal Church and in the economy. Please let this testing produce the good fruit of patience in us.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:4)
      Holy Spirit, please let your perfecting work of patience bring us to maturity in Christ Jesus.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
      Father, we ask you to move in the hearts of George our president, Barack our president-elect, and Bill our bishop, that they would all turn to you for wisdom.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)
      Jesus, please help our leaders come to you, leaving doubt behind. Thank you.

A word received: Hear me, listen to me, I AM speaking to you, my people. Seek me, pursue me, I desire to have you walk with me.

Thursday: 85, 86; Joel 2:21-27; James 1:1-15; Luke 15:1-2,11-32
Friday: 91, 92; Joel 2:28-3:8; James 1:16-27; Luke 16:1-9

Albany Intercessor

Advent Links & Resources: All About Jesse Trees

November 13, 2008

2014 Update:

This post from 2008 is our #1 most popular entry at Lent & Beyond with over 30,000 page views!  WOW!!  Please let us know of any other good Jesse Tree resources in the comments.   If we find any good new Jesse Tree resources for 2014, we will post a separate entry and link it here.

NEW FOR 2014:  Our commenter Theresa has created a site which has a fantastic guide for making a Jesse tree with your family.  Several types of ornaments  (crafts & printables), awesome pictures and instructions, and readings to go along with each ornament.  ABSOLUTELY WORTH CHECKING OUT!!

For those of you who have found this post helpful, please share it.  Also, you may enjoy our other Advent entries, devotionals and resources here at Lent & Beyond.  Here’s our Advent Category link.



This post was originally written in 2008.   All links below have been verified to be working as of 31 October 2014.

This year I’m trying to focus on providing a lot more Advent family resources and craft ideas, etc. One obvious possibility is to make a Jesse Tree. Here are some of the Jesse Tree resources I’ve found online. Several of them are truly EXCELLENT. Take some time to check them out.


Dec. 1 Update: I’ve found two more great Jesse Tree links, including a drop dead gorgeous felt Jesse Tree banner! See our “More About Jesse Trees” post.  Note:  I’ve also provided alternate links for one of the excellent Jesse Tree sites below whose page seems to have crashed.  The archived links are working.


It’s hard to choose what order to post resources in. There are so many good ones. Let’s start with an excellent overview of Jesse Trees with ornament patterns and daily Scriptures from an Advent resources page produced by King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland, Georgia since it is (sadly) the only explicitly Episcopal/Anglican resource I’ve listed in this post. (Solid Episcopal / Anglican resources are hard to find. There are many more Catholic sites, and even quite a few excellent Reformed Church Advent sites!)

A Jesse Tree

The 11th chapter of Isaiah describes the ideal king in the line of Israel’s great king, David. The first verse of that chapter says,

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

Jesse was King David’s father. The image of a branch growing out of the roots of Jesse points to a new king in David’s line. Christians know that this is fulfilled in Jesus, the King of Kings, who is a descendent of Jesse. One tradition is to decorate a tree branch with symbols that remember other important persons from the Old Testament. The symbols on the “Jesse Tree” remind us that our belief grows out of deep roots of thousands of years of ancestors in the faith.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Cool Family Advent Idea: An Advent Chain

November 13, 2008

(links have been verified as of 31 October 2014)

I found the following idea for a family Advent activity at a Reformed Church of America Advent Ideas Page. Lots of neat ideas here…

Advent Chain

Make your own Advent chain with a link for each day from the first Sunday in Advent through December 25. Use purple construction paper to make links for each day in Advent and white construction paper to make the link for Christmas Day. On each link write one activity. After writing an activity on each link, attach the links to make a chain. Each day remove a link and do the activity as a family. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Bake cookies for college students.
  • Sing a favorite carol.
  • Visit a shut-in.
  • Decorate the Christmas tree.
  • Set up the creche.
  • Read a story about St. Francis and the creche.
  • Make Christmas gift tags.
  • Shop for toys to donate to a shelter for women and children.
  • Deliver the toys purchased to the shelter for women and children.
  • Go caroling in your neighborhood.
  • Talk about what Advent means.
  • Share a memory from past Christmases.
  • Make ornaments for your tree.
  • Do a good deed for your neighbor.
  • Make luminaries to set out on Christmas Eve.
  • Have each member of the family finish this sentence: To me, Christmas means:?
  • Dream about what you would like Christmas to be in the future.
  • Choose a project to donate money to and decorate a container to collect change from each family member.
  • Decorate a tree mini-Christmas tree and give it to someone in a nursing home
  • Read a favorite Christmas story.
  • Invite another family to go with you to cut your Christmas trees.
  • Place items for a traditional Christmas dinner in a large laundry basket and deliver the basket to an agency in your area that will bring it to a family who would not have that kind of dinner.

Note, if you do a Google Search on “Advent Chain” you can find a lot more ideas and resources.

Here are a few more examples of Advent Chain ideas and resources: and

Advent discussion questions (can be used with the Advent chain)

New Advent Links for 2008 #1

November 13, 2008

It may be a few more days before I can finish updating the full Advent Links & Resources compilation. But I wanted to post here some of the interesting new (or new to me) Advent resources I’ve been discovering in recent days as I’ve been searching the web. All of the links below will eventually get added into the 2008 version of our Advent Links post. Feel free to point me to other great resources!


WOW!! You MUST check out this site. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! An Online Advent Calendar at “Teaching Mom”: This link is to the 2007 calendar. I really hope it’s updated for 2008 as it looks like an absolutely amazing and excellent resource. Here’s how the website describes what the Advent calendar includes:

Using Our Advent Calendar
Every day on the TeachingMOM Advent Calendar is full of goodies to help you and your family create some wonderful traditions this Advent and Christmas, as well as have some good old-fashioned fun! You’ll probably learn a few interesting facts about the season as well. We’ve collected some of the best on the net–and your public library!–for you all in one convenient spot. But don’t feel that you should be doing everything listed on each day!

The Advent Calendar was made to be used over again for as many years as you can get something out of it. So you probably won’t light the Advent candles, do a Jesse Tree AND make Chrismon ornaments all in the same year. And you may not have time for all of the “Advent Extras” I’ve thrown in! Don’t worry. The Advent Calendar will be here for years to come and I’ll update the links and make appropriate changes each year. So relax, choose some fun things to study and do, and enjoy! God bless you this Christmas. ~Leigh Ann

Each day has bible passages, a “Jesse Tree” verse, a Chrismon ornament pattern, links to devotionals or articles about Advent, and all sorts of “Advent Extras” — book recommendations, a hymn, an advent-themed artwork, recipes, a bit of Advent history or an explanation of an Advent tradition. There are many links for each day. I am REALLY excited by this site. It’s amazing how comprehensive it is. I can’t wait to dig deeper. This may well become my first Advent destination each day. One caution, even in just some brief exploration I found a lot of links here that have gone dead. However, don’t despair! Often the dead sites can be found via Google’s cache or the web archive site. So, if there’s a link that really interests you, see if you can access it by one of these “back door” methods. I might post a short tutorial about how to do this in the comments.

Here are just a few examples of some cool links I found by browsing around a few of the day’s in Teaching Mom’s Advent calendar. A bunch of the links below are from the Reformed Church in America’s Advent, Christmas and Epiphany webpage. See also their Advent Resources page. (Boy wouldn’t it be nice if we could find similar excellent Scripture-based resources on The Episcopal Church’s website. Sigh.)

Highly recommended! Daily Jesse Tree family devotions: A Scripture verse and symbol for each day of Advent. Updated for 2008. Excellent! Instructions for making a Jesse Tree and Jesse Tree ornament symbols & patterns

Potpourri of ideas for Advent & Christmas I really liked the idea of an Advent chain from this site, and am going to do a separate post on it.

Children’s bulletin inserts for Advent — these Black & White inserts are from 2006, so the dates would need to change, but these look fun…; I just discovered there are 2008 inserts available as well. These are in color.

Looking beyond Advent, here are some ideas for celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas

A site with all sorts of patterns for Chrismon ornaments (the site navigation is a bit awkward, click on the links at the top of the page, or follow the numbers on some of the sub-pages. Keep clicking around, there’s a lot of ornament patterns of different types here, it’s just not all that well organized).


Here are some interesting Advent Calendar, Advent Wreath (and other Advent craft) ideas:

An Advent Calendar with matchboxes

An Advent Calendar with drawers, plus a Nativity Advent Wreath

A simple and elegant Advent wreath

Lots of other Advent / Christmas craft ideas

An Advent “clothesline” (you could put something other than candy in each clothespin — a verse or an Advent activity idea, etc. Note there is some offensive language in this blog entry, but the idea is cute.)

A LOT of these links came from this VERY COOL Advent blog: O Night Divine. Bookmark it! See especially this post on Preparing for Advent & Christmas. Highly Recommended


More Baptists “get” Advent. It’s been intriguing to me to see how widespread the celebration of Advent is becoming, even in non-liturgical churches. My latest evidence, a blog entry on Advent resources posted by the Cooperative Baptist Foundation forum. One resource that caught my eye on that page was a brief powerpoint presentation with an overview of Advent — it might be a useful Sunday School resource.


Ok, that’s it for tonight… stay tuned for more new links in the next few days. There is so much Advent stuff online, it takes a long time to sort through it all. But it’s a lot of fun!

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