Writing in the introduction to A Light Has Dawned: Meditations on Advent and Christmas (Lexham Press, 2020), Carolyn Arends reflects,

Every year, whether we’re ready for it or not, we’re offered a fresh chance to take in the blazing miracle of the incarnation—God becoming flesh, the Light of the World moving into the neighborhood (John 1:15, Message). And yet, how many Christmases have we missed the glory entirely, captured by lesser lights, allowing ourselves to be spent (both literally and figuratively) attending to a thousand distractions?

Advent and Christmas beckon even as we prepare our Thanksgiving dishes. We anticipate their rich possibilities…acknowledge the need to shift gears and re-center. Here are some resources we have gathered to help us in this disciplined endeavor. We invite you to take in with us the “blazing miracle,” God enfleshed in Jesus Christ, the “Light of the World moving into the neighborhood.”

Books and Devotionals

A Light Has Dawned: Meditations on Advent and Christmas
Christianity Today (Lexham Press, 2020)

From the publishers of Christianity Today, A Light Has Dawned features some of the best Advent and Christmas articles CT published across five decades. Essays delve into daily life challenges, theology, and religious culture. Among the many excellent writers are Tim Keller, Stanley Grenz, Ruth Bell Graham, Billy Graham, Eugene Peterson, Philip Yancey, Charlotte F. Otten, and more.

The First Advent in Palestine: Reversals, Resistance, and the Ongoing Complexity of Hope
Kelley Nikondeha (Broadleaf Books, 2022)

A practical theologian who lives in the global south, Kelley Nikondeha takes a fresh look at the Gospels and starkly illuminates the subversive nature of Advent in its original imperial context. Interweaving history and accounts of her own encounters with people in the Holy Land, Kelley approaches Advent with a spirit of gravity and hope. This book was highly reviewed in Publishers Weekly, as well as by numerous authors and theologians.

Saint Nicholas the Giftgiver
Ned Bustard (IVP, 2021)

Author and illustrator Ned Bustard delightfully tells a fresh story of Saint Nicholas, shedding light on the legends and history of a man whose spirit of giving exceeds the stories that abound today. Both adults and children will find in this book something to enjoy and ponder. A note from the author encourages further conversation for readers considering the mystery, rather than the fantasy, of Christmas.

Online Resources

The Advent Project

(Biola University)

This online daily devotional features a Scripture passage, a devotion written by a member of the Biola community, a work of visual art, a poem, and a piece of music. To access, you can go to the website or subscribe and receive daily emails. Biola President Barry Corey describes Advent as “merriment and melancholy together, beauty so sublime that, like the best art, it…comforts and rocks us to the core.” This daily resource radiantly captures his description.

Every Moment Holy, 2022, Advent Writing Journal and Liturgy Writing Supplement

(Rabbit Room Press, 2022)

Rabbit Room’s blessing—may you be reminded of the constant, loving presence of God—embues two free, downloadable Advent resources based on the popular book, Every Moment Holy, Vol. 1. The 4-week Advent Journal includes weekly liturgies and reflection prompts based on the themes of Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace. The Liturgy Writing Supplement is designed to help you think about your expectations for the season and write your own prayers. Both of these resources might be used for personal reflection or as exercises in small group settings.

Hope is Born: An Advent Journal for Waiting & Working

(Fuller De Pree Center, 2022)

You will find in this free resource from Fuller Theological Seminary’s De Pree Center a 28-day guide that leads you through Advent (plus Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). The guide includes a Bible reading plan with a Lectio Divina-esque outline and prompts to read, reflect, request, and respond. The publisher’s hope is that we “attend to the promise that God has for us in our work” as we engage with the truth of scripture.

Music

Songs for Advent: An Upper House Playlist 

Curated by our very own Rebecca Cooks for the 2022 Advent season, you will find on this Spotify playlist songs of hope, anticipation, praise, and delight. We hope this playlist brings you joy in this busy season.

Christmas Carols Around the World with the Vienna Boys’ Choir (1995)

Our artist-in-residence, Euimin Shin, recommends this long-favorite album which features the elevating voices of the Vienna Boys’ Choir and orchestra. Euimin immersed herself in this music while she lived in Germany, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam with her missionary family.

Enjoy on your favorite music platform, or listen on Spotify.

Wood Works by the Danish String Quartet (2014)

Upper House’s Euimin Shin also recommends the Danish String Quartet playing their arrangements of Scandinavian folk tunes. Referring to their beautiful harmonies and uplifting rhythms, she says, “While this is not exclusively a Christmas album, its joyfulness certainly is Advent worthy.”

Enjoy on your favorite music platform, or listen on Spotify.