Preparing for Christmas

Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of Jesus. There are many ways to get ready for Christmas. One way is through a Jesse Tree.

A Jesse Tree is a tree branch decorated with symbols representing the stories of people in Jesus’ family tree. In Isaiah we read, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots”. Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And it was from David’s lineage that Jesus came. That’s where the idea of using a Jesse Tree to celebrate Advent came from. The symbols on the Jesse Tree trace the family tree of Jesus by reflecting the generations from Abraham all the way through to Jesus.

1JesseTree

Another way to prepare for Christmas is through an Advent wreath. It is made in the form of a ring, which is a symbol of eternity, since it has no beginning and no end. Each week, we light one more candle. Three of the candles are purple to symbolise both penitence and royalty – Christ as the Prince of Peace. Rose is the colour for the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word ‘rejoice’. The white candle in the centre symbolises Christmas.

2Advent-wreath

The first candle can represent the Old Testament prophets, who prepared the way of the Lord, by emphasising the need to prove our love of God with action for justice.

The second candle can be a symbol of John the Baptist, who prepared for the new beginning in Christ, by living a life of great simplicity. We also can simplify our lives this Advent, getting rid of excess. Christmas is a celebration of the greatest event in the history of the world. The birth of Jesus offered a new beginning to the world, a new way of life.

The third candle can be a reminder of Mary, who made a perfect response of faith to God’s challenge. The Annunciation was really a question to Mary: “Will you bring Christ into the world?” Mary said yes. Today each of us is called to follow Christ, and we are challenged by the same question Mary was asked: “Will you bring Christ into the world?”

The fourth candle can represent ourselves and our families. Our prayer is that God will inspire us anew this Christmas, that Christ will be born again in our hearts, and that his light will shine out to others through us. We promise to make a fresh start in our faith.

3Advent-altar

 

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Today’s Mass Readings
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from our Newsletter...
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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
.
Yesterday’s dead,
Tomorrow’s unborn,
So there’s nothing to fear
And nothing to mourn.
For all that is past
And all that has been
Can never return
To be lived once again.
And what lies ahead
Or the things that will be
Are still in God’s hands
So it is not up to me
To live in the future
That is God’s great unknown,
For the past and the present
God claims for His own.
So all I need do
Is to live for Today
And trust God to show me
The truth and the way.
For it’s only the memory
Of things that have been
And expecting tomorrow
To bring trouble again
That fills my today,
Which God wants to bless,
With uncertain fears
And borrowed distress.
For all I need live for
Is this one little minute,
For life’s here and now
And eternity’s in it.
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(Helen Steiner Rice)

 

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