Last Advent we took our nightly Jesse Tree ornament and reading ritual one step further and turned it into a full prayer service complete with singing... because what would an official prayer service be without singing. It was difficult to make the nightly commitment, but truly worth it. Ending our day in prayer as a family sent the kids, and me, to bed even more peaceful than I had anticipated.
I've pulled my notes off of my "Christmas Prayer Service, Jesse Tree, and Books 2012" document to put them here on the blog. I hope it's of help to you in formulating a nightly prayer time with your own family as we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It will also be nice to not spend 10 minutes trying to remember what I titled the document next year, I'll just look in the archives of my blog ;).
1. Each family member blesses themselves with holy water to remind them of their baptism.
2. Dad or mom lights the Advent wreath.
3. Everyone sings an Advent hymn together.
- 1st Week of Advent: O Come, Divine Messiah
- 2nd Week of Advent: On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
- 3rd Week of Advent: People Look East
- 4th Week of Advent: O Come O Come Emanuel (You can begin this earlier with the O'Antiphons on December 17th if you'd like!)
4. Dad or Mom announces the symbol for the day and reads a scripture story related to the symbol. After the reading a child places the ornament on the Jesse Tree.
We've found that using a narrative approach to telling the stories helps our kids comprehend the continuity of Salvation History, so we use three children's books for the stories, but you could orally tell the story or read it straight from the Bible as well. The books we use are:
- New Catholic Picture Bible (CPB)
- Tomie De Paola's Book of Bible Stories (TdP) (used once)
- Great Adventure Kids Bible Story Coloring Book (GA)
Below are the symbols we use each day, where to find the Bible story that goes with the symbol from the above books, and where to find the story in the Bible. You can find individual pictures of our handmade ornaments at this post. Some of them have moved around in their use, sorry if this makes it confusing to figure out what goes with what at the end.
- Dec 1st - Creation - World (CPB 8-9, Genesis 1-2:3)
- Dec 2nd - The Fall - Apple (CPB 10-11, Genesis 3)
- Dec 3rd - Noah’s Ark - Rainbow (CPB 12-15, Genesis 6:9-9:17)
- Dec 4th - Tower of Babel - Tower (TdP 26-27, Genesis 11:1-9)
- Dec 5th - Abraham and Sarah - Stars and Sand (CPB 16-17, Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:4-5)
- Dec 6th - Sacrifices of Isaac - Bundle of Wood (CPB 18-19, Genesis 22:1-18)
- Dec 7th - Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing - Sheep (CPB 20-21, Genesis 27:1-29)
- Dec 8th - Joseph and his Brothers - Coat (CPB 22-27, Genesis 37-45)
- Dec 9th - The Plagues and 1st Passover - Door with Blood (CPB 28-33, Exodus 6-13)
- Dec 10th - Parting of the Red Sea and Manna - Bread (CPB 34-37, Exodus 16)
- Dec 11th - Ten Commandments - Commandments (CPB 38-39, Exodus 20)
- Dec 12th - The Promise Land - Grapes (GA 14, Numbers 13)
- Dec 13th - Miracles in the Desert - Snake on Staff (CPB 40-41, Numbers 21:4-8)
- Dec 14th - Fall of Jericho - Crumbled Wall (CPB 42-47, Joshua 6)
- Dec 15th - Samuel and Saul - Crown (CPB 52-72, 1 Samuel 15)
- Dec 16th - David - Slingshot (GA 22-23, 1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 7)
- Dec 17th - Solomon and the Division - Divided Kingdom (GA 24-25, 1 Kings 12)
- Dec 18th - Elijah and Baal- Fire (GA 26, 1 Kings 18)
- Dec 19th - Elisha and Elijah - Mantle (GA 27, 1 Kings 18-19 and 2 Kings 1-2)
- Dec 20th - Jonah - Whale (GA 28-32, Jonah)
- Dec 21st - Zerubbabel/Nehemiah Rebuilds Jerusalem - Wall (GA 33, Ezra 3 and Nehemiah 2: 11-20)
- Dec 22nd - Ezra Reads the Law to the Jews- Scroll (GA 35, Nehemiah 8) and Esther - Crown (GA 36, Esther)
- Dec 23rd - Maccabeas - Candle and Shield (two symbols) (GA 37-40, 1 Maccabees 1-4)
- Dec 24th - Annunciation - Mary (GA 41, Luke 1:26-38)
- Dec 25th - Birth of Christ - Nativity (GA 42, Matthew 2)
5. Each family member shares their prayer intentions and then everyone prays one decade of the Joyful Mysteries. For ideas on how to engage little ones in the rosary, check out this!
6. Everyone shares the sign of peace and a child blows out the Advent wreath.
This concludes the prayer service, however, directly after we finish praying we open up one of our Advent books for our bedtime story. Here is the list of what we are reading for 2013!
Happy praying and preparing!
Happy praying and preparing!