Advent and Christmas Devotional Reading
Run, Shepherds, Run: Poems for Advent and Christmas, by L. William Countryman. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2005. ISBN 0-8192-2151-1. Pb., 100 pp. $11.95.
Countryman draws together poems from classic and modern authors in this daily devotion book for Advent and Christmas. He offers a brief introduction for each week, and for each daily reading.
Child of the Light: Walking Through Advent & Christmas, by Beth A. Richardson.
Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2005. ISBN 0-8358-9816-4. Pb., 111 pp. $12.00.
Richardson offers daily devotions for Advent and Christmas that are based on carols from the season (such as “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “What Child Is This,” “Away in a Manger,” and others).
Awaiting the Child: An Advent Journal, by Isabel Anders. Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 1987, 2005. ISBN 1-56101-238-6. Pb., 186 pp. $14.95.
Written during her own pregnancy, Anders reflects on daily lectionary readings for Advent, drawing in poetry and her own experiences of waiting for the birth of a child, even while she waits for the birth of the Child. Madeleine L’Engle offers a moving introduction.
Especially for Children
Mouse Tales: Things Hoped for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, by Ruth L. Boling.
Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005. ISBN 0-664-22705-8. Hb., 80 pp. $14.95.
In the tradition of Come Worship With Me and A Children’s Guide to Worship, Boling offers a marvelous collection of Advent and Christmas tales of the mice of the Church of the Least of These in fictional Hillsborough. Richly illustrated, these tales help children grow in their understanding of such practices as caring, hospitality, disagreeing in love, forgiveness, and Christ-like love.
The Jesse Tree, by Geraldine McCaughrean. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2005. ISBN 0-8028-5288-2. Hb., 93pp. $20.00.
Mr. Butterfield is carving a Jesse Tree, full of symbols that tell the biblical story from the Garden of Eden to the birth of Jesus. An ongoing conversation between a curious young boy and this old man provides a delightful way to draw children into the Jesse Tree’s story, and its way of preparing for the birth of Jesus.
Good King Wenceslas, by John M. Neale. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2005. ISBN 0-8028-5209-2. Hb., 32 pp. $16.00
With slight adaptation, Neale sets the words of “Good King Wenceslas” alongside Tim Ladwig’s rich illustrations, enabling children to learn of the generosity and compassion of the original King Wenceslas for the poor citizens of his kingdom.
A is for Angel: A Christmas Alphabet and Activity Book, by Debbie Trafton O’Neal.
Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8066-5121-0. Pb., 32 pp. $10.99
In 32 brightly-illustrated pages, O’Neal covers the ABCs; the people, places, and symbols of Advent and Christmas; and ideas for special Advent and Christmas projects for home.
Mary: Images of the Mother of Jesus in Jewish and Christian Perspective, by Jaroslav Pelikan, David Flusser, Justin Lang, O.F.M. Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Fortress, 2005. ISBN 0-8006-3706-2. Pb., 106 pp. $17.00.
This brief work combines reflections on Mary from Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic traditions with a collection of artwork inspired by the mother of Jesus. It also includes photographs of places of importance in the lives of Mary and Jesus.
Incarnation, by Alister McGrath. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8006-3701-1. Hb., 87 pp. $15.
McGrath asks, “Who is Jesus Christ? And why is he so important?” His answers delve into the heart of the Christian faith as he explores what it means that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. The book is beautifully illuminated with artwork from Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Jacobo Bossano, Vincent Van Gogh, and others. (His previous volume in the same series, Creation, offers McGrath’s insightful writing with additional illustrative artwork.)
The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story, by Frederick Buechner. Brewster, Mass.: Paraclete Press, 2005. ISBN 1-55725-455-9. 97 pp. $19.95.
Noting that none of the gospels gives any physical description of Jesus (“When you think the world is on fire, you don’t take time out to do a thumbnail sketch”), Buechner nonetheless reminds us “He had a face.” So begins this revised edition of Buechner’s original (1974) work, which retells the story of Jesus’ life through annunciation, nativity, ministry, last supper, crucifixion, and resurrection. Buechner’s stunning prose encourages us to see Jesus’ face through the whole of his life, and in our own lives, as well.
A Journey Into Christian Art, by Helen de Borchgrave. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8006-3240-0. Hb., 223 pp. $35.
From catacomb paintings and early Christian mosaics through Orthodox iconography and Renaissance artists to the modern era, Helen de Borchgrave offers not only a history of Christian art, but also helpful reflections on individual works. This combination of art and text can be read almost devotionally.
Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life in Pictures and Documents, with CD, by Hans Conrad Fischer. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005. ISBN 0-8006-3764-X. CDROM materials. Hb., 191 pp. $25.
Drawing together Bach’s life, work, and faith, Fischer tells of Bach’s life from childhood through service to the church. He reminds us that prayer and worship punctuated Bach’s daily life, and that “SDG” (Soli Deo Gloria, for the glory of God alone) concluded many of Bach’s manuscripts. Fischer beautifully illustrates his work with portraits of the artist, paintings of significant people and places in Bach’s life, as well as photographs of several manuscripts of Bach’s work.
The Story of Christian Spirituality, by Gordon Mursell, (General Editor). Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8006-3289-3. Hb., 384 pp. $35.
The explosion of interest in spirituality in the twentieth century is but a part of the larger history of the hunger and thirst for God that has filled the saints for millennia. This almost encyclopedic telling of Christian spirituality’s story is gorgeously illustrated with art and photographs which draw us into the lives and the movements that have shaped the practices of our faith through the ages.