Advent VersesNumbers 24:14-17
14 And now, indeed, I am going to my people. Come, I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”
Balaam’s Fourth Prophecy
15 So he took up his oracle and said:
“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened;
16 The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
And has the knowledge of the Most High,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Who falls down, with eyes wide open:
17 “I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.
With special emphasis on 17, today's portion references prophecy fulfilled through David and yet foreshadows the ultimate fulfillment through Jesus Christ whose coming is announced by a Star. The star was commonly a reference to monarchy as well and has layers of meaning in this verse.
He rescues and he saves;he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions. - Daniel 6: 27
This ornament could be a drawing of a Lion. If your lion's look mine, it could be a printout of a lion glued to your ornament. A three-dimensional ornament could be a small stuffed lion.
A crown is another emblem that reminds me of this portion of our Jesse Tree reading. This takes place during the Babylonian capture. In Daniel 2:21, Daniel praises God:
He changes times and seasons;
He sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
God's chosen people were enslaved to a heathen nation, yet Daniel knew that God was still in control. A wise reminder for us today.
To ExploreStars! According to Webster's, a star is a self-luminous gaseous spheroidal celestial body of great mass which produces energy by means of nuclear fusion reactions. This is certainly an interesting topic to explore, and if you have the time, I encourage you to pursue it. However, today we are focusing on the symbol of the star and the Star of Bethlehem. If you do pursue the study of stars with today's lesson, you might be interested in a short study of constellations. Some theorize that the constellations are a sort of Jesse Tree, telling the gospel story.
Ever wonder how many stars there are in the universe?
Want to peek into the scientific perspective of the Star of Bethlehem?
A look at the history of the star of David.
Christmas Around the WorldLet's take a look at the Czech Republic and more specifically, Moravia, a region of the Czech Republic.
Moravia itself contains very distinct regions that differ greatly from each other. Inhabitants are as dissimilar as the land itself. Even the traditional music styles differ.
Czechs celebrate Christmas with Advent, culminating on Christmas Eve when they celebrate gifts being brought by "Little Jesus". Some look forward to gifts from Santa Claus, known as Svaty Mikalas, who travels with an angel and a devil. Christmas dinner waits to be served until after the first star has appeared in the sky. It often includes fish soup and a fried carp with potato salad. The fish is prepared very fresh; some families even keep the carp in their bathtub as a pet preceding Christmas dinner! Dinner discussions frequently include tales of an elusive golden pig. Some families attend Midnight Mass, which they call Pasterka.
Christmas celebrations span 3 days in the Czech Republic, beginning on Christmas Eve and ending December 26th, though celebrations resume on January 6th. December 25th is known as Christmas Feast and the 26th is known as St. Stephen's Day.
Some still hold to superstitions and believe Christmas is a day for telling the future. If your children are young enough to make this a confusing discussion, you can safely skip this paragraph. Traditions include cutting an apple crosswise to see if it reveals a star or a cross (a star is supposed to mean a good year, while a cross suggests a bad year;) Girls throwing shoes over the their shoulders (if it lands pointing toward the door, she will supposedly be married soon;) and pouring molten lead into water to guess a message through the shapes that appear upon hardening. Read more stories of Czech Christmas superstitions.
Today, when people refer to themselves as being "Moravian", it is most commonly a reference to being a member of the Moravian Church. More than a hundred years before Martin Luther, this church was started by John Huss (though originally known as Jan Hus.) Huss rejected indulgences and embraced justification by grace through faith alone. This early Protestant was burned at the stake for his rebellion. Remnants of church members remained and met underground, eventually dispersing to Germany and Poland, though some remained in Moravia. Today, the Moravian church has spread worldwide, with the largest population of Moravians residing in Tanzania.
Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)Where I live, nothing compares to the clarity of a cold winter night's sky. Try to take time this week to stop and point out the beauty of the stars God has placed in the sky. Bundle up, first!
Make 3D stars
Make popsicle stick stars
Fold a Moravian Star
Bake Moravian Cookies
MusicGood King Wenceslas was a real historical figure who lived in the Czech Republic long before it was the Czech Republic.
I've yet to find the cd including the words to this one, but I love love LOVE the song Star of Bethlehem which was included on the Home Alone soundtrack (sans lyrics.) Here are the lyrics and here is a youtube link to listen to the music.
I have not seen the following, but it looks interesting: