It’s hard to believe that we’re nearing the last month of 2017! For me, it’s been a tiring year. Emotionally, spiritually, physically. I just feel weary. I’m not saying it’s been a bad year because God is always doing profound, meaningful things and I see His hand working it for my best. But, He has been upending some things in my life, throwing some challenges into my path, and just generally digging around a bit in my heart.
So, as I head into this holiday season, I’m looking forward to being intentional about the Advent season and trying to coax my heart into a posture of restful anticipation. The Advent season is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ first coming – His birth that we celebrate at Christmas. The word Advent is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. Some churches who keep to a more liturgical calendar will celebrate with formal traditions. At Redemption Chapel, we are more casual with only a few church-wide observances.
But, that doesn’t mean we’re not all preparing our hearts for worshipping Christ! The headlong rush of the tasks and extras that seem to come with this time of the year can make it difficult to pause. But, it’s so important. To that end, I wanted to offer up some of my favorite resources. Each day during December, I like to light a candle, put on worshipful Christmas music, boil up a pot of tea, and cozy up under my Christmas quilt as I read one of these – ideally in the morning before things get busy. (Ideally.)
This is an old favorite for me – it’s not a Bible study where you’ll get in the Word a ton but a book with great reflections from great theological writers. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with essays and poems from people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Madeleine L’Engle, Martin Luther, and Henri Nouwen. There are 40 days worth of deep, sometimes jarring reflections.
This one will get you in the Word a bit more and is traces the beautiful love story of Jesus’ coming. Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ. It’s well-done and worshipful. BONUS if you have a young family, she’s done a companion book for doing it with your children.
She Reads Truth is a favorite of mine when I’m not in a Bible study with women from church. Honestly, it’s a little bit pricier than I prefer but it really is beautiful and so well thought-thru. This book intentionally includes the Joy to the World: Advent 2017 reading plan only, with a written introduction and many other helpful elements throughout. Because God’s Word is living and active, the focus of these books is the scripture – not a reflection by a human author. However, written responses to each day’s reading can be found on SheReadsTruth.com and the She Reads Truth app. You can join the community of other women who are online – for further commentary and conversation via the website. As a bonus, they have other helpful tools and kid-friendly options on their site. Also, shipping is free for all Advent orders now through November 16th!
I hope that helps give you a few ideas for your devotional life as you prepare your heart and mind for worshiping our beautiful Savior… He is truly “better” than anything we think we need/want. After studying Hebrews this Fall, my eyes will view the Christmas season with an added reverence and awe.