A few years back we came across this 24 piece jigsaw by Juliet David (Author) & Pauline Siewert (Illustrator).
At some point in November 2012, my wife and I got to talking about one of Ann Voskamp‘s family traditions. In a moment of inspiration, we wondered out-loud how cool it would be to use this jigsaw as an interactive advent calendar. Participating in Advent is another act of worship. It’s lived out daily. Hence, I’m not an admirer of chocolate filled cardboard Christmas countdown boxes, so this fit the bill.
The general idea is not complex.
First: set up the jigsaw by numbering the back of each piece from one to twenty-four in a permanent marker, leaving the 24th piece with Jesus on it for Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day.
Second: match the date with each piece, daily.
Worth noting: after some rough starts, we decided to create a basic roster on our calendar for December. That way each child was free to monitor it, knowing when and who got to have their turn. We found that this fostered a sense of community. Discussions each morning nearly always included reminding each other who’s turn it was on the day.
The end result is a historical scene that comes into view over the course of December. Empowering a very real experience of reverence, hope and anticipation. I’m a big fan of encouraging theological themes where relevant, this deeply entrenches us in what the Christ-Advent is all about.
We’ve done this alongside our Nutcracker Advent calendar every year since. Not just because the kids loved it, but because the process also reflects an interaction with the history surrounding the curious journey of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Angels, shepherds and wise-men.
I wouldn’t quite call this sacramental, but I would emphasise the significance of its symbolism and its potential as a very simple spiritual discipline.