December 1, 2021 | Emily Ford Sytsma
What is Advent?
The word Advent means coming. Advent is a season in the Christian liturgical year that is made up of the four Sundays and weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a season for waiting. Some Christians and some churches celebrate Advent as a time to prepare heart, mind, and spirit for the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day.
What happens at school during Advent?
During Advent, our daily worship time begins with the lighting of candles on an Advent wreath and ends with adding an ornament to our Jesse Tree.
Our Advent wreath has 4 candles, one each for hope, peace, joy, and love. We started this first week to light the “hope” candle and will add a new candle each week until we are lighting them all. In this way, we can see a symbol of Christ’s light coming into our midst.
You may have heard your child talk about the tree that we have in the Community Room to help us mark this special season of waiting for Jesus. The children were very excited to see the tree on Monday morning, but although it looks like a Christmas tree, it is NOT a Christmas tree. It is a Jesse Tree!
“The Jesse tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The Jesse tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of King David and Jesus was a descendant of King David. We adorn a Jesse tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.” (Loyola Press)
Each morning at worship during the season of Advent, we hear stories from the Bible that point toward the birth of Jesus. And each day at the end of worship, we add an ornament to the tree with an image connected to the story we heard. By the time Christmas is upon us, the tree will be full of ornaments representing the stories that helped us to arrive at the birth of Jesus.
If your family has an interest in practicing your own Advent wreath or Jesse Tree tradition at home, here are a few resources with guides that include readings, stories, ornaments and more:
How will the children celebrate Christmas?
On the evening of Friday, December 17, Mustard Seed School will host a Las Posadas celebration. All families are invited to attend. Las Posadas is a Christmas tradition in Mexico. It commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph on their nightly search for a place to stay.
At Mustard Seed School, we participate in this celebration by wearing sarapes or simples costumes of nativity characters like angels, sheep and shepherds, and Bethlehem townspeople. We gather together in Church Square Park and make a procession around the park with Mary and Joseph (played by 8th graders) and middle school “stars” leading the way. We sing together as we follow them. Mary and Joseph will knock on several doors along the way and (spoiler alert) they will be turned away from every home and business until they finally find “room” here at Mustard Seed School.
As always, we know it will be a truly joyful event. We hope you will join us! Look for more details next week and please save the date.