Advent Special: A List of Advent Books 2015
A list of
'daily readers' for Advent recommended by the Rector of the
The new Christian year begins the
of November on Advent Sunday.
Advent (this year from 29 November until Christmas eve 24 December)
is not only a season in which Christians prepare themselves in
heart and mind for the great good news of Christmas but it also
launches us into a whole new Christian Year or Calendar. Someone
has rightly said that the Christian liturgical Calendar or Year is
the best catechetical device ever invented.
my favorite season. For starters I love the hymns associated with
Advent. Even more than Christmas carols I eagerly await the great
hymns of Advent: 'O come, O come, Emmanuel', 'Come, thou long
expected Jesus','On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry,'Sleepers,
wake!' and best of all the Charles Wesley hymn 'Lo! He comes, with
clouds descending'. I love the whole expectant and prophetic tenor
of the Scripture readings and themes, e.g.'the four last things'
(heaven, hell, death and judgement) and of the coming of
appreciation of Advent began in a bygone day, at the start of my
ministry, when the Collect, Epistle and Gospel for each Sunday
never varied from year to year, and all could be found bound within
the Prayer Book (without over-sizing it). The old collects were so
beautifully rhythmic one could easily memorize them and I
particularly loved and anticipated the ones for Advent.
There was in particular the
beautiful collect in 'The Sunday Next Before Advent' that set the
whole energetic tone of the season ahead with the opening words
'STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord the wills of thy faithful people'
(and a reminder to stir those Christmas fruitcakes in time to let
them soak in bourbon top-ups in sealed metal tins until Christmas).
And that memorable collect for the Second Sunday in Advent that
reminded us annually of the word of God in Holy Scripture as
containing all things necessary for salvation: 'Blessed Lord, who
hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning;
Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and
inwardly digest them…'.
But best of
all the collect for the First Sunday of Advent to be said all
season long, 'Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the
works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light…' echoing so
fitfully the exhortation of St Paul in the epistle (Romans 13.8ff)
for that first Sunday in Advent: 'And that, knowing the time, that
now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation
nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at
hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us
put on the armour of light'. That collect and epistle working
together like hand in glove never fails in stirring my heart and
imagination to yearn for a new year and a new beginning. Advent
just rings so loudly the urgent and joyful plea of the early
Christians, 'The Spirit and the Bride say come, even so, come
quickly, Lord Jesus!' But I woefully digress.
of this article is to offer a list of some daily devotional books
for Advent. The list is not even the tiniest fraction of a tip of
an ice-berg. There are so many Advent 'daily readers' out there and
newly arriving every year that one could shout 'But stop,
already!'. All the same I like to think the sheer volume of them
attests to the great number of fellow Christians who share a deep
enthusiasm for the season.
A LIST OF
TWELVE BOOKS FOR ADVENT
God in the
Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
John Knox Press- $11.31
This is one
of my favorite daily readers and I have returned to it many times
both in Advent and other times of the year. That some of the daily
entries are taken from Bonhoeffer's writings in prison during
Advent and Christmas gives them an added weight or reality in
reflection on the Advent theme of hope and God's gift in
[Related in substance to the Bonhoeffer
Advent readings---I am reading this Advent Alfred Delp's Advent of
the Heart: Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings 1941-1944.
(Ignatius Press- $12.65, ISBN-10: 1586170813). Accused of
conspiring against the Nazi government, this Jesuit priest was
executed on Feb 2, 1945. He writes with authority and power: More,
and on a deeper level than before, we really know this time that
all of life is Advent-Letter from prison, December 5,
Backwards to Christmas
John Knox Press-$12.50
Stephen Cottrell is the Bishop of
Chelmsford and a Christian writer with a common touch. In this
reader he attempts to overcome two 'turn-offs' for Christians: the
numerous Old Testament references and readings in Advent in the
run-up to Christmas and the fact that Christians simply switch off
listening after December 26th and miss the important Gospel messages
that follow on from the nativity Gospel stories. So he tells the
Gospel story 'back to front' from Jesus's Presentation in the
Temple to the prophetic hopes voiced in Isaiah.
Do Nothing Christmas is
Coming: An Advent Calendar with a Difference
Kindle edition (Amazon)-
In 2007 Cottrell wrote a book
that got a lot of press attention in the UK: Do Nothing to Change
Your Life as an antidote to the sheer stress and busy-ness we all
bring to every task and every effort at self-improvement. Do
Nothing Christmas follows in the same vein and is helpful in
reminding us to 'keep it simple' in our church and family
activities and thoughts in the run-up to Christmas. I got plenty of
good leads for sermons from this little book.
Giles is one of my favorite Christian writers. He has a superb gift
for the 'daily reader' format. Here, like Cottrell, he attempts to
tell the story back-to-front starting with the 'end' of the story,
e.g. 'the four last things' (heaven and hell, death and judgement)
and journeys to the beginning 'In the beginning was the Word'.
Ironic that such a large appeal of Advent and Christmas is found in
a return to the familiar and the cherished yet a yearning to see it
fresh and to say it anew.
Emmanuel: A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent and
delivers exactly what it says on the tin. You will emerge all the
happier and all the more enlightened with a deeper knowledge of the
music of Christmas and Epiphany. This daily reader offers material
one could easily adapt in sharing the season with the whole family
day by day throughout Advent until Epiphany.
the Word: A poem a day for Advent, Christmas and
Press Norwich- $15.99
Malcolm Guite, Chaplain of Girton
College, Cambridge, is a poet, priest and songwriter. In this daily
reader he provides a wealth of well-chosen poetry from George
Herbert, Donne and Christina Rossetti to contemporary
Narnia: Reflections for the Season
John Knox Press- $12.02
the other books in this list, Advent in Narnia is actually a course
a parish group can use for Advent gatherings. There is plenty of
Biblical material and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is drawn
on with all of its cherished childhood associations but interpreted
for adult reflection in Advent. The approach is not dissimilar to
the one taken by Earl Palmer in his September lectures at 'A
Weekend with CS Lewis' at Camp Weed and the Cerveny Conference
Center. And there is something here for families too, e.g. ideas
for 'A Narnia Night for Families'.
Goodness and Light:
Readings for Advent and Christmas
contains wonderful, insightful selections from classic and
contemporary spiritual writers from across the Christian spectrum.
It is a worthy companion to Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and
Easter also published by Orbis.
Proclamations: Singing the Magnificat with Mary
Moorehead (author, with Ray Suarez, Tom Briedenthal and other
authors well-known to the Episcopal Church)
Movement, also available at the St. John's Cathedral Bookstore-
excellent focus for Advent preparation, watching and waiting-with
Mary, the Lord's mother. Our own Dean Kate's contribution is in the
book's section 3 Advent- 'Proclaiming Good News'.
for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent
never go wrong with Richard Rohr. Each daily meditation closes with
a good question for further reflection.
Advent with Evelyn
Underhill (author) and Christopher Webber (editor)
Publishing- from $7.99
have loved this daily reader for many years. Webber has adopted a
simple format: he offers each day a selection from Underhill's
writings followed by a single thought for meditation and followed
by a single thought for prayer. I feel an Evelyn Underhill revival
Gift of New Hope: An Advent Study Based on the Revised Common
Lectionary (Scriptures for the Church Seasons)
have only just ordered this and I hope it delivers what the title
purports it to offer.
these books are available from Amazon. Soul Proclamations is
available for $5 at the St. John's Cathedral