There are many ways to prepare your heart and soul for Christmas. You may attend a children's Christmas pageant, join an Advent Bible study, or read a meaningful book. Coloring Advent: An Adult Coloring Book for the Journey to Bethlehem offers a unique way to approach your devotional time, a coloring page for each day of Advent.
Below are four downloadable sample coloring pages from Coloring Advent accompanied by devotions written by United Methodist Communications. We hope these enrich your Advent journey. For daily coloring pages, order Coloring Advent here.
May the glory be to God who can strengthen you with my good news and the message that I preach about Jesus Christ. He can strengthen you with the announcement of the secret that was kept quiet for a long time. Now that secret is revealed through what the prophets wrote. (Romans 16:25-26 CEB)
Toward the end of a mystery novel or movie, many of us have wondered, "How did I miss that?" Skilled authors and directors hide clues in a story we do not immediately see.
It happens in real life, too. After a relationship goes bad, we see all the red flags that were there all along. After friendship turns to romance, we see what our friends saw long before we did. Only after receiving the perfect gift do we recognize the clues we'd been giving for months.
That which once seemed mysterious, appears obvious. What seemed like a secret was no secret at all.
In the final sentences of his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul calls the message of Jesus a "secret that was kept quiet for a long time." The prophets wrote about him, but everyone missed what now seems obvious.
As we enter into Advent, we enter a mystery, a secret made known in the birth of a child. Let's enter this season of expectant preparation with open hearts, minds, and doors, waiting upon God to reveal the secret in us.
A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse;
a branch will sprout from his roots.
The Lord's spirit will rest upon him,
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of planning and strength,
a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
(Isaiah 11:1-2 CEB)
I'd like to say I knew what I was doing, but when I put down the clippers, the little tree in our front yard had lost many of its branches. One of our neighbors asked if I was trying to kill it. Quite the opposite. I was hoping to save it.
In the months that followed, I waited. Every day I walked by the tree looking for signs of life. One day, I saw a bit of bright green among the cold, dead, browns. A bud of a new branch was forming. In the years that followed, that little tree began to grow taller, wider, and brighter in season.
The prophets used similar imagery to talk about their faith. Things looked bleak. People wondered if they had been cut off from the blessings God had promised them. The prophets offered hope. They knew God was at work just beneath the surface. One day, they said, "a shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse [King David's dad]."
We all go through seasons when things look bleak. Yet God is still at work in the world, bringing new life to what we thought was dead. In this season of Advent, we remember the hope we have in Jesus Christ—"nothing can separate us from God's love in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38 CEB).
New Life Is Teeming
Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near.(James 5:7-8 CEB)
The Advent hymn "Toda la Tierra" (UMHymnal 210), opens with a powerful farming image: "Toda la tierra espera al Salvador y el surco abierto, la obra del Señor. (All the earth is waiting to see the Promised One, and the open furrows, the sowing of the Lord)." The author describes the world as a plowed field ready to receive what God is doing in Christ Jesus.
Farming is an exercise in patience. From seed to harvest, the farmer waits as nutrients rise through roots and buds turn to branches, leaves, flower, and fruit. The growth is slow but steady, and no process can speed it along.
The farmer must wait, but it is an active waiting. There are weeds to pluck, soil to treat, and pests to keep at bay.
As we continue in this season of Advent, we recognize there is work to do in our waiting. "Toda la tierra espera al Salvador (All the earth is waiting to see the Promised One)." May the Promised One be seen in us.
Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. (Luke 2:19 CEB)
Most parents remember the moment they first held their child. After months of preparation and anticipation, good days and bad, excitement and apprehension, eyes finally meet and hearts melt.
We can only assume Mary and Joseph felt similarly. This unexpected pregnancy had caused complications in the lives of both parents, including having to make a difficult journey during the ninth month. Through it all, they persevered to the manger.
When things settle down on that first night, Mary finds a moment of quiet where she pauses to take it all in, to reflect on what is going on around her. She never wants to forget this moment.
This Christmas, may we follow Mary's example. Take time to pause and ponder the gift God has given by coming to us in the person of Jesus. May we hold onto Christ in our hearts and lives today and every day.
Coloring pages are from Coloring Advent: An Adult Coloring Book for the Journey to Bethlehem by Christopher D. Rodkey, Jesse & Natalie Turri, courtesy Chalice Press. For daily coloring pages, order Coloring Advent here.
This story was published December 1, 2017.