Watch for the Light

I was pleased to see my favorite book of Advent readings, Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, on Christianity Today’s recent “Top 5 Books on Advent.” There are plenty of reasons to incorporate this book into your other Advent traditions.

First, the book is a collection of writings, organized by days, by many authors.  This morning’s reading was by the Methodist preacher and bishop, William Willimon.  Other contributors include Meister Echart, Madeleine L’Engle, John Howard Yoder, Karl Barth, Dorthy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard and- for the Christmas Day reading- St. John Chrysostom.  Each of the authors provides a different perspective and each brings significant insight to a season that can feel predictable to many of us.

Watch for the Light also brings a theological depth that is easily overlooked during Advent.  During a season of hokey TV specials, bargain shopping and goofy debates about the appropriate greeting (“Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”) this book is a daily reminder of what Christians around the world look forward to on Christmas Day.  An example from today’s reading by Willimon.

Charles Dickens’ story of Scrooge’s transformation has probably done more to from our notions of Christmas than St. Luke’s story of the manger.  Whereas Luke tells us of God’s gift to us, Dickens tells us how we can give to others… The Christmas story- the one according to Luke not Dickens- is not about how blessed it is to be givers but about how essential it is to see ourselves as receivers.

Finally- and I suppose this could be true about any collection of daily Advent readings- Watch for the Light is a helpful reminder of the wonder and awe that ought to be inherent to Advent.  I’m prone to miss the breathtaking significance of God taking on flesh; it’s a story I’m too familiar with.  The observations of these authors give me fresh angles to approach the familiar scriptures and old stories.

If you don’t already have a collection of Advent readings, Watch for the Light may be a great place to start.

Any favorite Advent books you’d care to share?

2 thoughts on “Watch for the Light

  1. Watch for the Light is probobly my favorite advent devotional too, but Amanda and I have both used ‘A Seasonal Book of Hours’ for advent/christmas & lent/easter seasons. I have also found a collection of Christmas sermons by Augustine that I have appreciated (I wrote one of the 2 amazon reviews if you are interested in more complet thoughts).

    One of the things i really like about a leturgical christmas devotional is that it turns Christmas into a season rather than a day that can not hope to bear the weight of expectation.

    I am actually surprised that there aren’t more rich advent/christmas resources available seeing as every pastor has to preach on it 2-5 time/year (thus composing 4-10% of their total content).

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