There are many books offering reflections and devotions for the Advent and Christmas season. You might like to choose one to journey with this year, whether individually, alongside a friend or with your small group. It can be a helpful way to find regular moments to pause in the rush of the busy season and focus on Jesus, preparing ourselves for the celebration of Christmas.
In case you are overwhelmed by the choice available, here are a few books which members of the Serving Christ Team recommend:
|Walking backwards to Christmas: An Advent journey from light to darkness – Stephen Cottrell
Though the Christmas story is well known, most of us have learnt it from school nativity plays and carols. On the whole, this familiar version is more concerned with light than darkness. The backwards approach taken here allows the movement to be in the opposite direction, with imaginative reflections through the eyes of characters such as Anna, the prophetess; King Herod; Joseph; Elizabeth; and Isaiah, each prefaced by a Bible reading and followed by a prayer.
|The Meaning is in the Waiting: The Spirit of Advent – Paula Gooder
Exploring Advent’s central theme of waiting (something we are not good at in our modern culture) in the company of the biblical characters who feature prominently in the lectionary readings for the season: Abraham and Sarah, Isaiah and the prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary. Arranged for daily reading, this offers an exquisite meditation on the spirituality of waiting - the active doing of nothing - as a way of enhancing our lives and bringing us closer to God.
|Celtic Advent: 40 days of devotions to Christmas – David Cole
This book takes the reader through Advent to the celebration of Christmas through the eyes and beliefs of Celtic Christianity. Starting in November and reflecting on Jesus' coming at his birth as well as into our lives by the Holy Spirit and at the world's end, it offers a unique approach to the season to help you gain a new sense of wonder in the birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world.
|A Weary World: Reflections for a blue Christmas – Kathy Escobar
During the holidays, so many of us can suffer for all kinds of reasons. We wrestle with chronic pain, broken relationships, shattered dreams, fragile faith, and unexpected losses. Our grief and sorrow feel particularly acute when compared to the festivity and joy everyone else seems to be feeling. This book provides twenty-eight daily reflections paired with prayers and practices to honour our struggles during the holidays. Weekly resources make this Advent devotional suitable for group study as well.
|God with us: 25 Advent Reflections – J John
A commemoration of something as big as Christmas – the infinite God becoming a few pounds of human flesh – could not be allowed to just happen; people needed to be prepared for it. In Advent Christians celebrate Christ’s coming in three ways. First, we celebrate his coming in history; secondly, we look to his coming again in the future; and thirdly, we look to his coming into our lives. Advent looks forward to the world being utterly changed in every way by the coming of Christ.
|Haphazard by starlight: A poem a day from Advent to Epiphany – Janet Morley
Unlike Lent, Advent is celebrated when the year is becoming darker and colder, moving into the death and dormancy of winter. Before we can greet the coming of the light, we need to engage with some themes that are challenging and occasionally fearful. Like the magi who travelled a long distance to search out and adore the infant Jesus, and who took some wrong turnings on the way, we too have a journey to undertake, before we find that we have.
|Waiting on the Word: A poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – Malcolm Guite
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation in which the waiting itself is strangely rich and fulfilling. Poetry can help us fathom the depths of Advent's many paradoxes: dark and light, emptiness and fulfilment, ancient and ever new. For every day from Advent Sunday to Christmas Day and beyond, the poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.
|Honest Advent: Awakening to the Wonder of God-with-Us Then, Here and Now – Scott Erickson
Celebrated artist-storyteller Scott Erickson offers 25 days of heart-stirring images and thought-provoking meditations to rekindle the wonder of God-with-Us in this season. Honest Advent creates a space for you to encounter the Incarnate Christ in unexpected places. Through benedictions, prayers, and questions for reflection, you will discover how the wonder of God-with-Us is still happening today: in your unexpected change of plans, your unaccomplished dreams, your humble stories of new beginnings. In a world that's difficult to make sense of, and a season that's so often overtaken by consumerism, find here fresh eyes to see this powerfully sacred story.
You can find some of these books on sale at the St Clare’s at the Cathedral online shop: https://stclaresatthecathedral.org/shop/