Christmastime brings out the “kid” in my kids. I guess in some ways it brings out the kid in all of us. I get overwhelmingly giddy about all the Christmas fun, and I’m…not a kid.
This year, my boys suggested that I should make them some sort of advent calendar – you know – the kind that included 25 days worth of candy or presents or money? No biggie. On second thought, knowing how busy I am, my boys were thoughtful enough to suggest that I could just buy one. They are so considerate of my needs. (Just don’t forget the candy, Mom.)
I knew they were (mostly) kidding, but still the idea of creating some sort of special Christmas countdown for them sounded like a lot of fun. I especially wanted to do it because after we had our conversation, they pretty much thought I would forget about it and not do anything. Ha! I’ll show them. It’s fun to be rebellious toward my teenagers.
Fast-forward to later that day when I saw my sister-in-law’s Facebook post asking people to share what Advent meant to each one. One of her friends mentioned the story “of Simeon and Anna as they wait on the promise of seeing Christ, who would take away the sorrows of Israel…both old, filled with the Holy Spirit…and now ready to die because they had seen the salvation of the Lord.” (Luke 2:25-32)
After I read this, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I mostly focus on the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season. How lovely to think about how Simeon and Anna eagerly sought to meet Jesus on earth after his birth! I opened my Bible and searched for more instances where people sought after Jesus. So many people from so many different situations recognized their need for Jesus. Their stories are beautiful – so filled with faith.
THIS is why Jesus came!! To heal! To cleanse! To bring salvation. To be truth. To meet the needs of each one who seeks Him. To bring peace. To be joy.
During my study that day, an idea for a Christmas count-down began to form. In my excitement, I could think of little else. I wrote down 12 situations in the Bible where people saw their need for Jesus, sought Him out, and encountered His fullness. I decided that our family could read one each day for 12 days, beginning December 13 – counting down the days until Christmas.
One idea led to another as I thought of ways to make this more memorable and meaningful for our family. I turned the scriptures into decorative cards. I attached the cards to 12 lunch-sized sacks. Beginning December 13, we will open one sack each day after we read and discuss the scripture. Inside each sack, I have included an item that relates to the day’s reading. Some will be treats for us to enjoy, some will be something we can share with others, some will simply be symbolic. I’ve written the details below in case you’d like to do something similar with your family.
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I keep getting choked up and teary eyed as I anticipate sharing this with my family. I have such a desire to make Jesus a bigger part of our Christmas celebrations, and I can’t think of a better way than to celebrate with 12 Biblical examples of people who came eagerly seeking Him during his time on earth. May we also be inspired to eagerly seek Jesus daily for our comfort, healing, peace, and joy!
Here are the scriptures I chose, as well as details about what I included in each sack.
12 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus
1. Luke 2:25-35
The story of Simeon seeking Jesus in the temple. I added a Christmas-y candle to the bag. We’ll light it as a reminder that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
2. Luke 2:36-40
The story of Anna seeking Jesus in the temple. The bag contains a 2016 mini-calendar. This will represent how Anna worshiped in the Temple night and day for years and years. It will remind us that our daily lives are also to be worship.
3. Luke 2:41-52
The story of Jesus’ parents looking for Jesus and finding him in the temple. This sack is empty! Once the boys discover this, they will have to do a search through the living room to find a treat I’ve hidden. This represents Jesus’ parents searching for him on their journey.
4. Luke 5:12-16
The story of Jesus healing a leper. This bag contains a new snowman soap dispenser. This represents “cleansing” as described in the story. Other ideas include fun bars of soap or cute washrags.
5. Luke 5:17-26
The story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man on the mat. I found a fun Christmas place-mat and folded it up (carefully!) into the sack. I also included a small treat we can eat after we put the new mat on our table.
6. Luke 7:1-10
The story of the Centurion seeking Jesus to heal his servant. Because Jesus healed the man’s servant, I’ve included a service opportunity in this sack. I put two muffin mixes along with some Christmas paper liners for the boys to make and deliver to someone.
7. Luke 7:36-50
The story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and poured perfume on them. I put two bottles of essential oils in the sack for us to use in our diffuser. All day the smell of the oils will remind of us of this story of forgiveness.
8. Luke 8:40-56
The story of Jairus seeking Jesus to heal his 12-year old daughter, and Jesus healing the woman who had been sick for 12 years. I added 12 chocolate candies in the sack to share as the number 12 is a significant number in this reading. Plus, there was much to celebrate with these two healings! Chocolate seemed appropriate.
9. Luke 9:37-43
The story of Jesus healing the demon possessed boy. This one is a little bit silly, but my big boys appreciate being silly quite frequently. Picturing the joy of the boy who was healed by Jesus, I put some goofy toys in the sack for our boys. Straws with mustaches? Why not?
10. Luke 19:1-10
The story of Zacchaeus climbing a tree to see Jesus. Since Zacchaeus was a tax collector who turned his life around, I put some cash in the sack. Our family will decide together how we would like to donate this money.
11. John 3:1-21
The story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night to learn from him. I got a new string of Christmas lights for our boys to hang in their room as a reminder of Jesus words, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” Other ideas include glow lights or bracelets.
12. Matthew 2:1-12
The story of the Magi following the star to find Jesus. I found a new star-shaped ornament for our tree. This will be the final bag we open on December 24!
Christmas Countdown Notes
~ Reading chronologically is nice, but I’m actually mixing up the scriptures and stories and doing them with our family in a different order than listed above.
~ In deciding the order, be sure to start with 12 and work your way down to 1. I know that is obvious in a Christmas Countdown, but my brain had to think through that more than once as I was organizing the best order for our scripture cards and sacks. :)
~ I purchased almost all of these items at our dollar store or used what I already had on hand. I wanted to make this special while keeping the cost down. Win-win.
~ The free download includes number cards if you’d like to use them too. I simply folded over the sacks and stapled on the number card along with a little curly ribbon.
I’d love to hear about any special advent traditions your family has! At this point, our countdown sacks are under our tree, just waiting for December 13 so we can begin. The sacks look pretty intriguing, so I think we need a special countdown for our countdown. :)