If I want to “treasure and ponder” (Luke 2:19) the meaning of this sacred season and forethought seems to be the key. There’s no time like the present to gather together those items that will help you celebrate purposefully.
The holidays…. Every year I tell myself I will be more organized so that I don’t get swept away with the frenetic pace that seems to come over me during this season. I have tried to shop early and coordinate with family and friends so I can share in meaningful celebrations with them all. I have learned, through all the decorating, buying, wrapping, baking, event planning and attending above all I must be ruthless about how I will worship with intentionality. If I want to “treasure and ponder” (Luke 2:19) the meaning of this sacred season and forethought seems to be the key. There’s no time like the present to gather together those items that will help you celebrate purposefully. You may have some tried-and-true reading material and traditions that help you reflect on the coming of Christ, if not….or if you are looking for something different, here are a few suggestions:
Advent Devotional Books
God Is In The Manger, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (click here to purchase)
Advent is all about waiting and this book is a compilation of Bonhoeffer’s Christmas messages and letters from a prison cell. Arrested for his faith in Germany in 1933 by the Hitler regime, Bonhoeffer understood first-hand the idea of waiting for and the hope of freedom. Bonhoeffer took this very real situation and, through these writings conveys a yearning freedom through the coming of the Christ Child palpable.
Advent and Christmas – Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (click here to purchase)
Henri Nouwen is one of the most well-read spiritual authors of our time. Reflections for each day in this book begin with the words of Nouwen taken from his various writings followed by related scripture reading and prayers. Each day has a suggested activity for applying the message to one’s daily life.
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (click here to purchase)
There’s plenty out there on the ‘real’ meaning of Christmas; this volume steps back further to examine more vital questions: What does it mean that God took on human form? That Mary believed? That Christ came down to earth, and will one day come again? Whether dipped into at leisure or used for formal daily devotions, this unparalleled collection gives the phrase ‘Christmas preparations’ new depth and meaning. Includes writing from Kathleen Norris, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, John Donne, Meister Eckhart, Dorothy Day, T. S. Eliot, Gustavo Gutierrez, Eberhard Arnold, G. M. Hopkins, C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther, Henri Nouwen, Edith Stein, Thomas Aquinas, Dorotee Soelle, Philip Yancey, and others.
Online Advent Devotional Readings:
Beginning the first Sunday of Advent and continuing every day until December 26, you’ll receive short inspirational videos, practical tips, or free Christmas music that will help you slow down during the busy Christmas season to focus on what’s really important in life.
This advent season we invite you to remember that Jesus is our hope, peace, joy and love. The word “advent” means “coming.” For many years the Christian Church has celebrated advent. It is a time to remember Jesus coming on Christmas two thousand years ago. Advent is a season of hoping, expecting and longing for Jesus’ coming. It is a time to focus our hearts on what Christmas is truly about. Saddleback Church Retreat Ministry has produced this “Advent Devotions” App to do just that. It is designed to prepare your heart for Christmas. The Devotions are divided into four weeks. Each week focuses on a different theme: hope, peace, joy, love.
Lectionary Reading Schedule for Advent