I purchased Ann Voskamp’s advent calendar book, The Greatest Gift and printed out the accompanying ornaments from the Internet to hang on a “Jesse tree.” The book and the ornaments “Unwrap the full love story of Christmas.” In her inimitable wordsmithing, each day tells an Old Testament story which is a precursor to the birth of Jesus whose lineage goes back through the house of David, the son of Jesse, and all the way back to Abraham. She challenges her readers to think through the stories as they relate to our own lives and to perform some gifts of kindness to others.
I also followed the online advent calendar provided by Biola University at http://ccca.biola.edu/advent/. One of the first days presented an original thought concerning the importance of our belly buttons. It is the one distinguishing mark regardless of ethnicity which labels us as having a connection to the generations before us from our mother, all the way back to Eve. We would not be here on earth without a belly button. When God wanted to send his Son to earth, he made sure Jesus had a belly button! “The familiar and the common are unequivocally amazing in God’s son, Jesus.”
Also God chose for animals to be a part of and present at Jesus’ birth! “Jesus, as the Wisdom of God, was the grand architect of creation. This is the mystery of the nativity. How can it be that the one who established the heavens, the skies, the earth, and the seas be found as an infant lying so vulnerable in a small town in Israel? How could the master craftsman of creation be found as a baby among animals and peasants? Why this profound condescension—unparalleled in history?”
I, an animal lover, find it interesting that God ordained his son should be born in a lowly barn with no mid-wife type of assistance, with no clean, let alone sanitized, space in sight, and with animals all around as witnesses to the supernatural birth of God/man. Then God sent angels to shepherds on a nearby hillside to announce the birth and encourage them to find baby Jesus. They came with their flock of sheep, through the streets of Bethlehem in the middle of the night. Though I have always known animals were present, I had not considered the significance of that. Instead of sending the angels to a night meeting of the town council to invite so-called important people to the manger, he chose shepherds — the same profession as David’s youthful position. Plus, Jesus called himself the Lamb of God. This was an important metaphor first brought to light at the manger. Yet, how many of us picked up on that at first sight?