The shelves are heavy laden with volumes, large and small, on Christmas. There are a growing number on Advent, too. But each year I tend to return to a simple collection of tried and true words to accompany me through Advent, toward Christmas.
My own participation (and celebration) of Christmas was deepened when I better understood what the Gospels actually said about the coming of Jesus. Borg and Crossan helped me see the revolutionary nature of the incarnation, to better understand the kind of salvation that the people in Bethlehem hungered for and why the announcement of this birth was good news. You don’t have to agree with every conclusion of these scholars in order to glean a deeper appreciation for the coming of Christ.
The language of poetry comes closest to articulating the deep mystery of the incarnation, Christ taking on skin and walking among us. In this collection, Luci Shaw has gathered wonderful friends to break open metaphors and offer fresh images to help us dive deeper into the truths of this season. I return to this book every Advent. (My personal favorite is After Annunciation by Madeleine L’Engle.)
I believe this is the first Advent meditation I ever purchased. I remember stumbling upon it while I worked at a United Methodist Church and reading it every morning at my desk before the day began. Nouwen keeps it simple, focused and rich. His words are a wonderful introduction to the themes of the season.
I love how Rohr brings us into Advent and helps us create space for Christmas to come. I find his meditations gentle, expansive and ever-new (even though I’ve read this book for years).
The friendship between Luci Shaw and Madeleine L’Engle has always both delighted and fascinated me. So this volume, with readings from both friends, feels like an invitation to sit with them in front of the fireplace and contemplate the glorious impossible, as L’Engle was fond of saying. These women can write – be it prose or poetry – to the heart of this season.
The Advent of Justice: A Book of Meditations by Sylvia Keesmaat and others
This year I am trying a new daily Advent reader. I’ve read the work of Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat before in their stellar Colossians Remixed. Given that I’ve been articulating Advent in terms of justice and salvation myself the past few years, this looked like the perfect fit for me this time around. I have it sitting on my counter, alongside the Advent candles, ready to begin reading this coming Sunday…
This is a last minute addition to the list – and I’m so thankful to Sandy Hay for mentioning it! John Blasé is a favorite modern-day poet, writer and person, really. I downloaded and started reading his meditations this morning and they ring with truth and fresh surprises. Add this to your list, too.
I’d love to hear other recommendations. Do you have a well-worn Advent volume you revisit year after year?