For children and adults, advent calendars add to the fun of anticipating the Christmas holiday during the first twenty-four days of December. This advent calendar may be a somewhat time-consuming, but the results make it worth the effort.
To download and print complete instructions for the fabric advent calendar, click on the image below. This simple advent calendar will take a short time to create once you have gathered your materials.
Use the neck of one of the tins as a template to draw circles on the wrong side of the paper you have chosen. Place five tins in the first row, centering the middle one on the vertical midline with its top touching the first horizontal line below the banner. Using your computer and printer, create a small banner with the word "Noel," or another short Christmas greeting. Cut a snowflake or other motif coordinating paper and use spray adhesive to apply the snowflake at the bottom of the canvas. Once all of the glue has dried, fill the tins with small candies, trinkets, or notes and hang it on the wall as you would a regular picture frame. Make a Christmas tree advent calendar like this one quickly and easily using purchased materials.
Using a yard stick or a T-square, create a center vertical line on the art board with a very light pencil. Using the center vertical line, measure, cut, and adhere a length of washi tape that runs from just under the top margin to just above the bottom margin. On the first horizontal row, center and adhere a three-inch length of tape along the first horizontal guideline (enough for two clips).
On the second and third rows, center and adhere a six-inch length of tape (enough for four clips each). On the fourth row, center and adhere a nine-inch length of tape (wide enough for six clips). Finish the calendar by adding the numerals 1 through 24 using stick-on vinyl numbers as shown in the sample, or write or paint numbers by hand.
Add a pre-made bow, hand-tied bow, or other embellishment to the top of your tree with hot glue. Use the clips to hold small bags filled with candy, small holiday cards or notes, or even seasonal decorations. Some advent calendars simply display the numbers in a decorative or playful way to help impatient children (and adults) count down to Christmas. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression.
Make your own advent calendar for a fun family project whether you select a simple design or one that's a little more involved. If your family outgrows advent calendars, this project can also serve as a holiday wall hanging. The sample is created with a cotton broadcloth background in a polka-dot print and coordinated quilting squares in graduated shades of green. You can use design elements similar to the sample shown here or you can substitute your own colors and motif. Depending on the color scheme, you can leave the canvas a natural white or you can paint it the desired background color. You could use a single color or an assortment of solid colors, magazine illustrations, old Christmas cards, or tissue paper glued and layered onto the lids.
If you prefer, you can hand draw the numbers with a paint pen or wide marker in a color that contrasts with the paper color(s). Draw a vertical line down the middle of the canvas and a horizontal line across the middle of the canvas. Distribute the other four tins evenly across the row within the margins, using the vertical lines to help you space the tins evenly and align them with the tins above. Using an art board backing, you lay out a simple and abstract Christmas tree shape using washi tape, then embellish it with numbers, clips, and a bow.
Others, which have containers, may contain tiny treats, toys, jokes, riddles, or Bible verses related to the Christmas season. Choose one of these designs, add some treats or holiday messages to each day, and get ready to count down to Christmas! Each triangle is a little pocket that is large enough for some candy treats, a small toy, coins, or other treats; each pocket snaps closed. The calendar shown below uses scrapbook paper with coordinated winter snowflake designs, and one-ounce tin containers with lids. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.A A Part of the expectation also anticipates a judgment on sin and a calling of the world to accountability before God. Make sure that the fabric you select for the background is heavy enough to support the appliqued trees. The backing is an art canvas with a three dimensional frame, which makes the calendar easy to hang.
Draw a horizontal line three inches from the top of the canvas to indicate where the bottom of the banner will sit. A THE WORD BECAME FLESHIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. There are many mystical explanations for why this calendar start date was chosen, including that it coincides with the 6th day of Creation. But the one which relates to Passover is based on Exodus 12:1-14, in which God begins the Exodus process and gives Moses instructions for the Passover which will occur two weeks later, thus the celebration of the Exodus is on Passover, but the recognition of its start with the new year is two weeks earlier.
The Jewish civil year, however, begins with Rosh Hashanah, six months later, around the beginning of fall.
Rosh Hashanah is seen as the day of judgement, when people’s statuses are recorded in the book of life. Jews say their new year begins on the seventh month, as if things weren’t confusing enough already. It is tied to the Spring equinox, like the Jewish calendar, and starts on that day, so it will be on March 20. Includes an Advent Devotional Guide using an Advent wreath.The Advent of Advent This coming Sunday is the first day of Advent. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a year, you know that I generally make a big deal out of Advent. My next post in this series will make the case for taking Advent seriously.When is Advent?Advent is a season in the Christian year that lasts for about four weeks. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve, thus there is some variation in its length. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of Christian seasons, you might find helpful a series I’ve written called: Introduction to the Christian Year. He is the editor of Paraclete Press; coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. I should mention that Eastern Orthodox Christians do not recognize Advent per se, but have a longer season that is rather like Advent. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Their Nativity Fast begins in the middle of November and is a season for repentance and abstinence.In our secular American celebration of Christmas, the Christmas season (or holiday season, ugh) begins in the weeks prior to Christmas Day. Generally, this season starts in early December, though retailers have a bad habit of beginning Christmas in November (or even October). Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible.

In my rule book, you shouldn’t listen to Christmas music or turn on Christmas lights until after you’ve finished the Thanksgiving turkey . Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Subscribe by email to On the Way Follow Phil Fox RoseAboutRaised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil Fox Rose has been Quaker, Buddhist and Catholic, and spends as much time as possible in nature.
In On the Way, he offers tools and ideas for help on the spiritual journey, and thoughts on contemplative practice, recovery, music, food and just about anything that crosses his path.Popular at Patheos Progressive Christian If God Only Made Male & Female, What About Intersex? But its beginning and ending are well defined, and its themes are quite a bit different from what is commonly associated with secular Christmas celebrations.What is Advent?The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6. It was the other way around.) The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. As a child, I did have Advent calendars: sturdy, decorative paper displays with 25 little “windows,” one of which I would open each day of December leading up to Christmas. Sometimes Advent calendars are made of wood and feature twenty-five little boxes, each containing some little treasure (see photo). My Advent calendar was a way to whet my appetite for Christmas, not that I needed much help to get ready for my favorite day of the year, mind you.I loved Christmas when I was young, partly because it celebrated the birth of Jesus, but mostly because it was a giant party in which I received lots of presents.
In a sense, the Christian observance is a bit like my boyhood Advent calendars, though it has a much more serious purpose. It’s meant to get us ready, not for a present-opening party, but for a transformational celebration of the birth of Jesus.What Colors Are Used in Advent?My Advent wreath at home, after the fourth Sunday of Advent and before Christmas.
This Advent wreath combines purple and pink candles for Advent, with a white candle for Christmas, with the greenery we associate with secular Christmas celebrations.There are a few other things about Advent, besides its themes, that you might find odd if you’re unfamiliar with the season. We associate Christmas and the weeks leading up to it with typical Christmas colors: red, green, white, silver, and gold. The pink, joyful color reminds us that, even as Advent helps us get in touch with our sober yearning for God to come to us, we know that he did in fact come in the person of Jesus.Thus, our major-theme of waiting has a grace note of joy mixed in.
But if you’re unfamiliar with Advent and happen to attend a church service in early December in a church that recognizes Advent, you might be startled to see lots of purple, a bit of pink, and no red or green. Advent purists don’t approve of such a mix, but I think we need to be gracious in our response to the Advent traditions of others. Some Protestants ignore Advent because it isn’t taught in Scripture and because they associate it with Roman Catholicism.
I suppose you might be able to make a few bucks selling purple and pink candles, but this isn’t going to thrill most retailers.I think, however, there are lots of good reasons to pay more attention to Advent, however. It can also be adapted for other uses, such as Advent-themed worship services or personal devotions.
You are welcome to download the Advent Devotional Guide and use it as you see fit.How I First Learned About AdventIn yesterday’s post, I explained the timing and purpose of Advent, as well as its unexpected color scheme. I closed by noting that Advent is growing in popularity, especially among Protestant Christians who, in many cases, did not grow up with much awareness of Advent. Liturgically sophisticated Protestants, such as Lutherans and Episcopalians, generally are familiar with Advent, but many have just the slightest understanding of this season. Though, as I noted in my last post, I enjoyed paper Advent calendars in my youth, I did not think of Advent as a season of the Christian year.
At the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood where I grew up, we celebrated Christmas and Easter, and that was about it.
The weeks of December prior to Christmas were Christmastime, not Advent.First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood on Christmas Eve 2007When I was a teenager, Lloyd Ogilvie came as Senior Pastor of Hollywood Pres. He brought with him the tradition of using an Advent wreath in worship services prior to Christmas.
Though we continued to sing Christmas carols and decorate the sanctuary with Christmas colors, Dr. Still, I thought of Advent mostly as Christmas-lite, and not as a distinct season with distinct emphases.While I was preparing for ordination in the Presbyterian Church, I took a course in “polity” (church order) at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Demarest talked excitedly about how the seasons of the Church Year could enrich the worship of a church as well as one’s private devotions. I was serving on the staff at Hollywood Pres, where we continued to use an Advent wreath in our pre-Christmas worship services, but otherwise didn’t do much with Advent.My first full exposure to Advent came when I began as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in 1991. Sometime in November, a member of the church came to me to let me know how unhappy she was that “Loren doesn’t let us sing Christmas carols until Christmas Eve.” I asked why Loren, our worship director at the time, had this peculiar proscription.
He had reserved the beloved carols for Christmas Eve and the twelve-day season of Christmas that ended on January 6.
But when many people in the congregation let Loren know how much they missed singing Christmas carols prior to Christmas, he relented.
Now his plan was to start Advent with music that was Advent-themed, and slowly include Christmas carols in the Sundays prior to Christmas. A few carols, however, like “Joy to the World,” were reserved for Christmas Eve and thereafter. I was excited by the potential and eager to experience a more intentional and complete Advent season.During my first Advent at Irvine Presbyterian Church, I did find it odd to sing relatively few Christmas carols before Christmas Eve. Though I missed some of what I had always associated with the build up to Christmas, I found that Advent did indeed heighten my yearning for the coming of Christ, and it did indeed help me to experience Christmas in a deeper way.Christmas of 1991, my first at Irvine Presbyterian Church, was the beginning of my becoming an Adventophile . When I started out as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in 1991, for the first time in my life, I began to see Advent as a distinct season of the year and to experience its richness. Let me explain why.The Advent wreath of Irvine Presbyterian ChurchIn the years following my Advent beginnings, my appreciation of Advent grew slowly and steadily.
At some point, I became aware of the purple and pink Advent color scheme, something we had not previously emphasized at Irvine Presbyterian Church.
I remember when, sometime in the 1990s, we started using three purple and one pink candle in the church Advent wreath. I put up an “Advent tree” in my office at church, which could be seen from the busy street in front of the church. I didn’t outlaw the use of Christmas colors in our sanctuary or anything like that, though our paraments (cloth decorations) on the communion table and pulpit were purple. I’m sure some folks thought I’d lost a few of my marbles in my zeal for Advent colors, but, for me, it was a chance to emphasize Advent in my personal life as well as in my ministry.Why did Advent matter so much to me? Taking four weeks to focus on the hope of Christ’s coming made me much more joyful when I finally got to celebrate it. The more I got in touch with my need for a Savior, the more I rejoiced at the Savior’s birth.Second, I found in Advent a solution to the age-old problem of secular Christmas vs. Yet, given the secular traditions of Christmas, we spend most of our time preparing, not for a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but for fulfilling the demands of the season. We have to buy lots of presents for lots of people and make sure they are all wrapped and delivered. We have relatives who come to visit or, alternatively, we are the relatives who go elsewhere to visit.
We have to send out Christmas cards, making sure our addresses are right and that they get on all the envelopes.
If we have younger children, we may very well spend hours trying to assemble gifts that come with sketchy instructions written by someone for whom English is, at best, a third language. And so on, and so on, and so on.Meanwhile, we hear our Christian leaders telling us that we’re spending too much time and money in secular celebrations and not focusing enough on the real meaning of Christmas.
So what’s a Christian to do?In my idealistic twenties, I thought about downsizing my celebrations of Christmas.

At one point I tried to convince some friends and family members that we should make Christmas an entirely “spiritual” holiday, one in which we focus only on the birth of Jesus. Not wanting to be the Grinch, however, I didn’t abandon secular festivities or gift giving. The secular and familial Christmas traditions were too embedded in our lives and, I might add, greatly loved. I too, you see, am a lover of Christmas traditions.)As I entered my thirties, I tried to emphasize the Christian aspects of Christmas in the days leading up to the holiday. For some reason, observing Advent during December helped me to draw near to God in a way that I had not been able to do before.
But I also added several new practices that tuned my heart to resonate with the deeper meaning of the coming of Christ.I know that many others have had a similar experiences to mine.
During the past six years I have received dozens of emails from people who have shared their own excitement for Advent. In this post and the next in this series I’ll outline some practical suggestions for how you might experience Advent.
Pay Attention to the Advent Content of Corporate WorshipIf your church celebrates Advent, be ready to pay close attention to the readings, prayers, songs, and seasonal pageantry (like the lighting of the Advent wreath). Your intentionality in worship can infuse your whole life with Advent expectation.Many churches, even if they don’t plunge into the depths of Advent, nevertheless wade into Advent themes in their pre-Christmas worship. Throughout my years as a parish pastor, I found it much easier to receive “Here’s something I find exciting!” than “Here’s what you’re doing wrong!”Enjoy Advent MusicThis isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, unfortunately.
There are hundreds of popular Christmas songs and carols, played everywhere during Advent, from churches, to gas stations and shopping malls. This is my current favorite of the bunch.An Advent Procession Based on the Great “O” AntiphonsAdvent Carols from St. John’sBach: Advent Cantatas The first part of the so-called “Christmas portion” Handel’s Messiah is filled with Advent themes (from the beginning through “The People That Walked in Darkness”).
There just isn’t much out there that is specifically focused on Advent and its themes. Prepare the Way of the Lord by David Phillips contains 18 instrumental tracks, half dedicated to Advent, the other half dedicated to Lent. You can purchase the CD from Amazon, or you can download an MP3 version from David Phillips’ website.In the past few years, I have come to enjoy listening to instrumental versions of Christmas hymns and carols during Advent. Feel free to adapt it as you see fit, or to use it in ministry settings.Let Your Nativity Scene Function as an Advent CalendarI have not done this before, but I have friends who do. They time the setting up of their nativity scene so that they add one character each day, adding the Christ child on Christmas (or Christmas Eve).
This can also be a wonderful family tradition that involves each member, especially younger children.Dress for AdventMy Advent sweater and some of my Advent tiesIt’s common for people to wear Christmas colors throughout the month of December, so why not Advent colors? I used to do this when I led worship at Irvine Presbyterian Church, wearing a purple tie in the more traditional services and a purple sweater in the contemporary services. These days, I wear purple ties to work during the first part of Advent, before I transition to Christmas ties (which I won’t get to wear unless I use them in the days leading up to Christmas).Focus in Your Personal Devotions on Advent ThemesThere are many texts, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, that express Advent themes.
Some possibilities for Advent Bible readings can be found in my Advent Devotional Guide.Do Acts of Kindness and Justice that Inflame Your Hope for God’s FutureAdvent is a season to consider both “advents” of Jesus.
When Jesus comes again as a victorious King, he will usher in the Kingdom of God with all of its blessings.
People will turn implements of war into tools to produce food, and “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). It’s easy for those of us who live in safety, comfort, and prosperity to neglect a godly hope for the coming of the kingdom and all of its benefits. Yet, this hope can be inflamed within us when we reach out to share life with and care for people in need, for the hungry and homeless, for victims of injustice and oppression, for those who suffer from sickness or sadness.
Advent can be a time to touch those in need, not only so that we might share God’s love with them, but also so that our yearning for the kingdom might be renewed within us.Tomorrow I’ll add one more way to observe Advent.
Of course I didn’t discover it in the way an explorer discovers a place no one has been before.
Now you need to understand that I am terrible at waiting, especially in long checkout lines. Of course, the person in front of me wanted to use a gift card, but the gift card couldn’t be read electronically. The checker knew there was a way to enter the gift card number manually, but he wasn’t sure how to do it. Five minutes later, I was still standing in that “short” line, watching other lines moving swiftly. Mostly, I was mad at myself for picking the wrong line.My impatience with slow checkout lines makes me an especially lousy Christmas shopper, because, almost by definition, Christmas shopping requires waiting in line (unless, of course, you are able to do all of your shopping online!) Whether you’re at a fine department store or just grabbing some chips from the local mini-mart, chances are you’ll be waiting in line during the month of December.
In spite of my best efforts to find the shortest line, of course I ended up in the slowest moving line of all. Words I never say (well, almost never) filled my mind, and I’m not referring to “Happy Holidays.” “Why do I always get in the slowest *^%#($ line?” I asked myself.
I had one of those moments of grace in which God managed to slip a word into my consciousness. I was forced to experience something that’s at the very heart of Advent.So I decided, right then and there in the line at Costco, that I was going to use the experience of waiting in line while Christmas shopping as an Advent reminder. In that moment, and in similar moments yet to come, I was going to remember what Advent is all about. I was going to put myself back into the shoes of the Jews who were waiting for the Messiah.
And I was going to remember that I too am waiting for Christ to return.As I decided to let the experience of forced waiting be a moment of Advent reflection rather than a cause for getting an ulcer, I found my anger quickly drain away. This was, indeed, a miracle.By the time I got to check out, my heart was peaceful, even joyous.
In the days that followed, many of my flock told me how much their Advent had been improved by thinking of waiting in line, not as a curse, but as a potential blessing.Honestly, I can still forget my commitment to use waiting in line as a time for Advent reflection. Traffic is often worse during the season of Advent as people are rushing to the malls to shop for gifts. But I wonder if it’s possible to allow the hassle of traffic to serve as a reminder of Advent waiting.In the last few years, what I hate most about the days prior to Christmas – waiting in line – has become a quasi-sacrament, a time to experience God’s grace.
This sounds even sillier than wearing purple in the weeks before Christmas rather than red and green. By experiencing waiting in line not as a punishment, but as a opportunity to wait peacefully, you’ll find a bit of grace, hidden and ready to be discovered, much like a little picture behind one of those doors of an Advent calendar.Is Advent Biblical?Earlier in this series I mentioned the fact that many Protestant Christians reject Advent because they consider it to be a Roman Catholic practice. For most of these people, it isn’t so much the Roman Catholic aspect of Advent that is truly problematic, but the fact that Advent is not taught in Scripture.
You can’t turn to a place in the Bible and find teaching on Advent or a command to set aside four weeks prior to Christmas as a season of waiting, hoping, and yearning.Does this mean that biblically-oriented Christians shouldn’t observe Advent? For some, the answer is “Yes.” If it’s not explicitly taught in Scripture, then Christians shouldn’t do it. You’ll find that kind of argument among non-instrumental Church of Christ believers, for example.
Since instruments are not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament teachings about worship, then we shouldn’t use instruments today.So what about Advent? Does its absence from Scripture mean we shouldn’t observe it?If you buy that argument, then you must also abstain from Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter, which also aren’t found in Scripture.
You might as well throw out Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving too, since none of these are mentioned in Scripture.

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