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Prepare Him Room: Celebrating Advent as a Family

Posted in Advent, Book Reviews, Books, Devotions, Evangelism, Family, Life in the Church, Parenting

by Cassie Sasser

A Resource for Advent

Marty Machowski and Sovereign Grace Music have given us two new resources to help us see the Christ Child and the risen Savior in the Prepare Him Room advent book and the Christmas CD of the same name.  I say “to help us”, because isn’t it the case with all thoughtful Christian material for children that we all (both the child and the adult who has the privilege of reading it to him) grow deeper in our understanding of the Savior?

As our own family life began, over 45 years ago, one of the first things we purchased as Christmas drew near our first year was a wooden stable. With the stable came all the significant characters who represented what happened on this day that we were celebrating.  Our children loved this manger scene, and it was very significant in our home at Christmastime.  One year, though, the character of the baby Jesus was missing.  It was very strange, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. This actually happened several years in a row since I would go out and purchase a new baby Jesus figure.

We eventually discovered that one of our children was concerned that such a representation of Christ was actually a violation of the second commandment – to make no carved images. So this child took the baby in the manger away to keep our family on the straight and narrow. Tender, maybe a bit troubling, but true to his heart and the heart of many Christians.

Marty Machowski sees another side to the controversy of nativities. He is concerned that we get so nostalgic for the (supposed) simplicity of the newborn baby that we miss his eventual crucifixion. His solution is a simple but meaningful one.

Remembering the Cross at Christmas

Prepare Him Room suggests cutting out a purple felt or paper cross and laying it beneath the baby in the manger – keeping our hearts and minds focused on all that has transpired to save us from our sins. This is one of the things I appreciate so very much about this book; it reminds us several times that Jesus came as a babe – God incarnate – and died and rose again to give us the unimaginable gift of eternal life with him.  Mr. Machowski makes a point of relating the Christmas Story to the Easter Story in a wonderful way that demonstrates one is not complete without the other.

This book is not full of fluff but is inviting and captivating.  It is written in such a way that people of all ages who read it will have the gospel expressed to them, both through the scriptures that are quoted and the short but effective words of explanation concerning the prophetic promises in the Old Testament of a savior to come.

Running in segments throughout the book’s pages is a poignant and heart-capturing short story that expresses the desire we all have to be part of an earthly family.  This story combines the joy of coming home to your family with our inexpressible gratitude when adopted into God’s family.  This story leaves no doubt that when we know Jesus as our Savior and God as our Father, our hearts and lives will be changed.

Enjoying the Season as You Prepare Your Heart

 A very special feature – especially for those like me who do not remember all the words to songs, cannot carry a tune or read music – is a Christmas CD written especially with this book in mind. At the end of each reading (three per week for the four weeks of advent ) two songs are suggested and the words are right there on the page for you to see.  Particularly wonderful is that you can purchase the CD and play the song as your family sings along! The songs are both old Christmas songs and others written just for this CD.

There are also one or two suggestions for enjoyable activities to make or do after each reading session. These are things that you might do anyway during the Christmas season, but doing them along with the lesson may make the lesson more memorable.  When the book suggests cookie baking, it even gives the reader two cookie recipes to try. How convenient for busy moms! The other suggestions are not particularly difficult, but they are purposeful and worth your while. Reading ahead of schedule will enable you to purchase the few items required.

I think that you will find that the length of each of the lessons is perfect for a wide range of ages.  Not a moment is wasted but is packed intensely and will keep the attention of most of the children all of the time, and certainly all of the children some of the time. I appreciated very much how the author kept the joy and excitement in his lessons that we all enjoy during the wonderful Christmas season, but also remembered to put a purple cross under the Christ child in the manger – lest we forget the true significance of Christmas.

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