Article: How To Make Gingerbread Cookies

‘Tis the season for all things yummy. Few things are more iconic to Christmas than gingerbread. It doesn’t take anything more than some dough, frosting and an assortment of candies to dazzle little eyes and gather young and old together to build or decorate all manner of fun shapes and structures.

Here’s to rejoicing in all the happy moments Christmas can bring!

How To Make Gingerbread Cookies

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The “Gaudete” or Joy Candle

Who knew that Philippians 4: 4-6 could sound so beautiful in song? The third Sunday in advent is known as Gaudete Sunday–named after the first Latin word in the service:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

Translated:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.” Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1

The Gaudete Carol is an ancient one, dating back to at least the 16th century. May we rejoice, as Paul says to in Philippians, in Christ and all His gifts to us this season!

The Bethlehem Candle

On the second Sunday of Advent the second candle of five is lit. In many churches, this is considered the Bethlehem candle. We remember that long before Jesus Christ was born, the humble town of Bethlehem was promised to be the birthplace of a great king–in fact, the King of Kings.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

All you need to start your own family’s celebration is five candles (some people do four). It’s really that simple. How you arrange the candles or decorate them is entirely up to you. Our family’s advent “wreath” has changed over the years but has always been some kind of grouping of the five candles, usually in a circle. Before kids, we used tapers but later with toddlers around votive candles seemed a MUCH better idea.

After years of having the candles in circle formation, I found a darling candle holder at a shop which has five votive holders in line formation which takes up less table space. This year I have flameless candles, which I like because I can “burn” them all evening.

So the basic idea is to light one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. On the first Sunday you would have one candle burning. The second Sunday two of the five would be burning and so forth. The fifth candle is for Christmas Eve, which we like to light after Christmas Eve service. In the days after Christmas, it is fun to have all five burning at the same time.

You may notice that many candles especially marketed for Advent are purple and pink. Those colors originated in order to match the vestments of Roman Catholic priests during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Don’t stress about the color, though. The main thing is to remember different parts of the Christmas story as the day approaches.

Hopefully, your church will have a list of Advent Scripture readings that you can refer to as the days go by.

Did you miss a week? Or even more? Don’t worry. Just grab some candles and go!

EBH

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

Silence can be more profound than words. It has a weight of its own. Silence, especially from a loved one, can become unbearable. It can accompany anticipation, precede disaster, or indicate rejection. Often, we don’t know what it portends.

The last words spoken between God and man before Christ’s coming are recorded in Malachi. The emotion of God seeps out in every verse, beginning with, “I have loved you.” (Malachi 1:1) Like a husband in pain, God recounts Israel’s unfaithfulness. The book almost reads like a cross-examination in court. The charges are simple and the proofs of unfaithfulness are easy to see. God’s final words are full of pathos:

4:1“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules[q] that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

And then….silence.

For 400 years. No prophecy. No songs. No warnings. No words of love. For generations.

And then something happened, something so wonderful we celebrate it to this day. God spoke again–breaking the dark, long silence of an age. Like the sun rising over the horizon and shining on a frosty earth, angels came and told us everything was about to change. The advent of our Savior had arrived.

Elizabeth Hiett

The Lost Art Of Feasting

large_the-lost-art-of-feasting-retjrwiuArticle by

Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

 

We might suppose that overstuffed American bellies would hardly need any instruction on feasting. So many of us have grown so accustomed to having so much to eat. Then here comes Thanksgiving. Just put it on autopilot. Fasting is the discipline today that is grossly under-served; no need to consider feasting.

Not so fast. It’s true that fasting is sadly overlooked, and too often forgotten. And yet, perhaps counterintuitively, true feasting is also in decline through familiarity and lack of spiritual purpose. Most of us have never given any serious thought to what it might mean to feast with Christ-honoring intentionality.

We’ve grown dull to the wonder of ample food and drink through constant use, and overuse. When every day is a virtual feast, we lose the blessing of a real one. When every meal is a pathway to indulgence, not only is fasting lost, but true feasting is as well.

Feasting as a Spiritual Joy

The Bible is replete with the goodness of food and the holiness of feasting. God in his goodness made his creation edible. He made trees “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Genesis 2:9), and created us to eat his world: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29). Then after the flood, he extended the gift to eating animals: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). But distinct from the kindness of God in everyday food is the special grace of a feast.

In the Old Testament, God structured the seasons and years of his chosen people with fast days and feast days. Then he sent his Son as the great culmination of his nation’s feasts. Now those who make up God’s multinational people through Christ are no longer under obligation to practice Israel’s ancient feasts and rituals (Colossians 2:16). They were “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). Christians are free to feast — or not to feast:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5–6)

But what we’re not free to do is feast in a way that dishonors God. And forgetting him altogether is profoundly dishonoring. As Christians, we want to learn to feast in such a way that we’re tasting God’s supernatural goodness as we enjoy natural tastes.

Not the Same as Indulging

Feasting is not first about the food. It is foremost about the Godward celebration of some specific occasion together. Good food and drink, in abundance, come in alongside our corporate focus to accentuate the appreciation and enjoyment of God and his kindness. The heart of feasting is not the food itself, but the heart of the feasters. A true feast is bigger than the food — infinitely bigger. The center is God and his greatness and grace toward us in Christ.

For Christians, feasting is not the same as mere indulgence. There is nothing particularly Christian about eating and drinking more than usual. What makes feasting a means of God’s grace for nourishing our souls is explicitly celebrating Christ together in faith. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Easter, a birthday or anniversary, when we feast as Christians, we celebrate the bounty and kindness of our Creator and Redeemer. Feasting in Christ is no mere physical event, but deeply spiritual.

Prepare the Way for Feasting

Good preparation for a good feast typically begins before the feast day — not only in our planning, but in our pattern of eating. When our normal daily consumption is characterized by sufficient restraint, then feasting is something we can rise to on special occasions, by faith and in good conscience, rather than being the baseline of everyday eating. If you’ve so overindulged leading up to the feast that you feel a need to count calories at the feast, something is not right. Daily restraint both keeps our stomachs primed for times of fasting (so we’re not miserably famished) and makes possible a kind of special indulgence on feast days.

But exercising self-control in eating and drinking as a habit of life is only a prerequisite to good feasting. For a big Thanksgiving dinner to honor God — and feed not only our stomachs, but our souls — we need a few simple, but significant, steps to make it holy.

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Walking Towards Sunday: My Favorite Advent Calendar <3

LondonAdvent

Today’s December 1st and if you haven’t already bought an advent calendar, I just have to share my all-time favorite one with you! In fact, this advent calendar is so charming it’s worth having two! Kids will love it, but I suspect moms will be the ones playing on it most of the time 😉

My mother sent me one years ago and since then I have looked forward to getting these for myself 😉  …Oh, yes..and for my friends and family.

Every year, Jacquie Lawson creates an interactive and uber-charming Christmas wonderland. In her world there is something to explore, discover, learn, or create everyday of December. If you leave it open, this calendar will even serenade you with some classical Christmas music. 

Her attention to detail makes this calendar super-fun. The town clock is always set to the  time where you live and if the sun is down in your real world, it is in your advent world too! 

The link below will take you to her site’s webpage where you can see a demo of this year’s calendar, which has a Victorian theme. 

I just had to share this happy bit of Christmas-time that I love! 

Click here to preview! Advent Calendar