The Harkey Blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Resources

Here's a quick list of some of our favorite Christmas resources for families:
  • Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage and Tabitha's Travels all by Arnold Ytreeide - historical fiction advent readings that really help you understand what longing for the Messiah was like from a child's perspective. (While we love the stories, we have sometimes found that the devotional portions don't line up with our theology, so we read the devotionals sparingly.)
  • Veggie Tales: Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving - We watch this on St. Nicholas day and read Saint Nicholas: The True Story of the Christmas Legend. We don't celebrate Santa Claus, but there's no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. The real St. Nick was a Christ-follower who set a worthy example.
  • The Very First Noel - A cute, animated video, most appropriate for toddler, preschool and maybe young elementary aged children.
  • Adornaments - Cardboard, storybook ornaments representing Jesus as Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, the Door, etc. Devotional book included.
  • Little People Nativity - Any nativity set that your kids can touch, arrange and love is perfect.
  • Nativities in general - There is much to learn and discuss with your children as you view different artists' representation of Jesus' birth. One thing we did when our kids were young was to hide all the baby Jesus figures on Christmas morning and have the little ones search for them. Another year, we looked at Nativities in which baby Jesus is depicted in a cross shape. We talked about God's plan for Jesus to die on the cross, which was already determined when Jesus was only a baby in the manger.
  • Ordinary Baby: Extraordinary Gift - This is an absolutely beautiful story. (There are one or two sentences that I edit as I read it, again because of the theology presented.)


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Sabbath Keeping

Today as I was working my way through my Bible reading plan, I read Isaiah 56. In this chapter, God describes people who wholeheartedly follow Him as being Sabbath keepers. I was convicted enough by what I read that I changed my plans for the day. My errand-filled afternoon of checking off to-dos got moved to tomorrow, and I chose to not check off anything this afternoon.

My Sabbath afternoon consisted of a relaxing walk around the neighborhood with my girls, something they have been requesting lately, and a trip to a coffee shop where we enjoyed a special treat and read through some of our favorite Christmas picture books, including The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, The Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas, Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend and others. It was a great way to focus on Christ today and not on tasks.

My thoughts about the Sabbath, however, are not finished. As I have meditated on the Word today, I have wondered
  • How can I observe Sabbath without becoming legalistic?
  • What does God require of me, one saved by grace alone, in regards to Sabbath keeping?
  • What are some practical applications for Sabbath-keeping in 2011?
  • Do I more often profane the Sabbath by working and not resting on Sunday OR by adding too many rest days and times to my week so that Sunday is no longer special and set apart?
God is working on my heart as I think through these answers. I sense that obedience is not going to be easy.

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3 Comments:

  • You are not asking for this, but another question I would add would be - How does Hebrews 4 fit into the discussion about observing a Sabbath? Is there a need for a set aside day or is our Sabbath rest now in Christ?

    By Blogger Vince, at 11:32 PM  

  • Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.

    It doesn't seem like Hebrews 4 abolishes the principle of Sabbath, but I will say that Hebrews has fairly cryptic language, so I could be totally off.

    The thought also occurs to me that Sabbath is one of the 10 commandments, which those of us in Christ still keep, now through His power not our own flesh. We don't discard any of the others, why would we discard Sabbath keeping?

    On a heart level, what is convicting me about Sabbath is that it's a time set aside to focus on God (partly through our designated corporate worship time). And a time set aside to rest and to admit that I can't do it all myself. When I have to give up task time, I am forced to trust God that He'll give me all the time I need to accomplish what is truly important. For me it's a matter of trust, humility and discipline in seeking Him.

    By Blogger Elise, at 9:14 AM  

  • Elise, i was happy to read your post. As a Sabbath keeper, i have some years behind, but there is always something to think about...
    Besides being in church i love to be out in the nature on Sabbaths. This day of remembrance was created right after the creation so if we keep it we will never forget where we came from.

    By Blogger cheerke, at 9:43 AM  

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