May your soul be hushed and your imagination enriched by these good gifts. Advent begins.
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Watch for the Light. I first found this years back when one of its most arresting passages was quoted in a daily Advent devotional I received by email. There shines on them already the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come. And my hunt led me back to this collection of stirring Advent contemplations, one a day through Epiphany. For a book that sets you in the strong, clear light of Advent as a season of preparation, even of penitence, this is the best. The readings here aren't meant to evoke nostalgia or even comfort yet , but to help a reader come wide awake, to take account, to consider what it is she hopes and what the coming of that hope means to the here and now.
For 'preparing a way for the Lord' in my heart in this season, this book has long been a brave and resourceful companion.
This book is a luminous companion, prepared by the faithful and creative minds behind the literary Image Journal. This book offers carefully selected pieces of art, daily Scripture readings and prayers, and daily Advent devotionals, each week written by a different Christian writer or pastor. This is an ideal Advent devotional book as it offers a compact but rich contemplation, short enough for a snatched quiet time, but rich enough in image and idea to shape one's thoughts for the whole day.
It's a world of a book, a twilit, contemplative, Advent world. This book is just out, and I ordered a copy the minute I found it. Poetry, as Owen Barfield insightfully claimed, can bring about 'a felt change of consciousness', a process that I think is at the heart of Advent celebrations and one that is masterfully crafted for a reader in this collection of Advent poems by Malcolm Guite.
Guite's Lent collection has been my companion for the past two years, and the Advent one is a new favourite. Guite doesn't just give you a poem to read, he guides you into the heart of the woven words, words that can truly shift your sight from boredom to wonder, from discontent to thanks, from discouragement to a newly-kindled hope. Combined with his own radiant sonnets, this book is a gift of lyrical beauty and devotional quiet. Haphazard by Starlight by Janet Morley.
This is a similar collection to Guite's, one I have just discovered. It comes highly recommended by my tutor here at Oxford, and we are using some of the poems listed within for an Advent poetry discussion group. I love the way this book introduces me to poems I would never have discovered on my own. And, I mean, the title.
Splendid thing. Advent with Evelyn Underhill , compiled and edited by Christopher Webber. I make no secret of my love for Evelyn Underhill. Her confident, motherly voice in writing, not to mention her excellent scholarship on contemplative prayer and Christian mysticism, has shaped my devotional life in countless ways. This collection of daily Advent readings has been culled from her many devotional works. These are short, accessible, luminous and for me, powerfully formative readings you could peruse in a spare 5-minutes. I've taken this book along to the airport to read in the waiting area and the pithy, wondrous tone always startles my soul awake even in the midst airport craze.
The gentle or awed or anguished faces, the faded gold, the strange figures embodying a story I knew well, making it new and strange, and yet closer again… I have encountered few pieces of art that so capture the ache and wonder, the pain and passion of Christ's coming into this world. I think that art arrests the mind in a different way than words, allowing our eyes a fixed contemplation in which our imaginations 'see' the story of Christ afresh. The contemporary and in print version by Geraldine Eischner is good too.
The Nativity by Julie Vivas. Lilian received this as a christening gift I think and I have been absolutely enchanted with it. The sweeping, earthy, humorous images in their gangly contours, the lively, joyous faces, the delight of seeing the annunciation depicted as Mary and the angel sitting at a table over coffee, I just love the humanity and humor of this story and the true, pure wonder it conveys at the same time. I only grow in my love of good short stories. This one, in a simple, tightly woven little tale manages to tug hard at every hopestring in your heart, combine childhood Christmas delight with grown-up yearning, and bring it all to an end that, I must admit, brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it.
It's a gem of a story, an emerald gem, bright with all the life of Christmas if you ask me. A Christmas Book also by Elizabeth Goudge. A collection of Christmas short stories, some excerpted from her longer novels, some written purposefully for the book. The lively and eccentric characters, the humour, the spice of mystery, the presence of the sacramental in the lovely, all the usual goodness of Goudge comes as a gift in these small stories. Christmas in my Heart by Joe Wheeler.
Joe Wheeler is one of the best and oh so dearly beloved anthologists we have in the States and I was deeply privileged to have him for a mentor. I love these Christmas books, collections he has culled from the reading of thousands of old books. My family used to read these aloud in the evenings during Advent season… and we might have had bets on how quickly mom would tear up. A lovely friend sent me this book last year and it has joined my stack of favorite Advent short stories.
Set in the Swiss Alps, named for a set of cathedral bells that have never been heard but are prohesied to ring with the coming of a certain gift at the Christmas Eve service, the book is the tale of little girl's generous heart. It's a dear story, one that stirred my heart. I look forward to reading this to Lilian. Midwinter Carols v. My wondrous brother Joel just released an album of tender, lively, oh so richly woven but oh so quietly rendered carols for Advent and Christmas. Celtic Christmas Spirit by Caroline Peyton While this isn't strictly 'Advent' music, I find the haunting quality and some of the more ancient carols in this collection help me stand aside from commercial, contemporary Christmas and engage with Advent.
I haven't found anything quite like this collection of Celtic Christmas music. Granted, my taste for the lilting and haunting runs strong, but there is a wonder and glory in this that I savour.
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Ah, this is an excellent journey of music, one that draws you into the high drama of angels and the sweet, low folksy drama of the stable in songs you will find yourself singing under your breath throughout the season. Andrew Peterson's storytelling in song, his grasp of the storied nature of faith, has made his music among my favourite for many years, but this album, inviting you to 'behold the Lamb of God' is one that has enriched my Advent journey in countless ways. I grew up on these sweet, sweeping, and to me, rather haunting contemplations on the coming of the Christ child.
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Advent Storybook – 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas
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