Sunday, November 23, 2014

Recommended Advent Reading

Besides family Advent traditions, maybe you're looking for some quiet meditations to read on your own during the Christmas season. Below are a few suggestions--some I have read, others are on my wishlist because of their authors. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative by Russ Ramsey and Andrew Peterson
I appreciate any book that gives you a sweeping view of Scripture as one big story with Jesus at the center—which is what this Advent devotional does. Inspired by Andrew Peterson’s absolutely brilliant work of the same name (more on that soon), Ramsey takes the reader through the Old Testament stories that point to the coming Savior, then brings humanity and poignant detail to the familiar Christmas story.

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, both by Ann Voskamp
The former is a devotional; the latter is a Jesse Tree resource. I have long enjoyed Ann's writing, so when we started our Jesse Tree tradition a couple of years ago, we used her free printable--but I confess I really didn't like it, in spite of how much I love her. It was poorly edited, difficult to read aloud because of her poetic style, and not at all geared for little ones. I'm confident this reboot is probably much different and better--I've heard wonderful things about it. Either way, I'd still love to read her Advent reflections on my own. 

Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
This devotional includes both family readings and individual readings. I have loved other work by the authors.

Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
This devotional is out of print, but looks wonderful, with readings from T.S. Eliot, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, Madeleine L'Engle, and Henri Nouwen, to name a few.

Finally, some of my favorite Advent readings are John Piper's poems. I've attempted to write poetry in strict meter and rhyme only enough to know that it's very, very difficult to do well. Piper has (in my opinion) an extraordinary gift for it. Not only is the poetry beautiful, but his "imaginative reconstructions behind figures of the Bible" are amazing. Every year I am moved and awed by the way he points to Christ and the glory of God in these poems. He doesn't write new ones anymore (they used to be a yearly Christmas gift to his congregation), but the 25-year archive of past Advent poems is available free on Desiring God's website:
New Testament figures
Old Testament figures
Note: I highly recommend listening, not just reading.


Danielle said...

Watch for the Light sounds amazing. I added to my wish list. I have the Lent version, Bread and Wine on there as well.

I enjoyed the Ann Voskamp devotional VERY much last year. It was my favorite of any I've read as far as advent books go. I purchased her new one this year and have high hopes. Like you, the free version was confusing and after the first year I only used it to reference scripture readings and didn't actually read her writing, but just the Bible verses to go along with the Jesse tree ornaments.

Briana Almengor said...

I am borrowing Danielle's copy of "Behold the Lamb of God" and enjoying that descriptive read right now.
I finally ordered A Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift!" I wasn't going to order this year, but when she offered a 30% off the other day, I couldn't resist. ;)

I love knowing of other options for future years. I'll be pinning your post. Thanks for the recs.