HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It’s finally here! A new year, a fresh start. This past Sunday was the first day of Advent, which is the first day of the liturgical calendar. And I find it more refreshing to celebrate Advent as my new year then the actual New Year: It marks the beginning of a story that will unfold (instead of a unwritten possibilities), it comes with habits and rhythms and suggested resolutions (instead of having to come up with them all on your own), and it gives you a community in which to live out these practices (instead of leaving it all up to you!).
Advent is a season of waiting, hoping, and longing. It is characterized by the darkness of winter as we wait for the light to arrive in three distinct ways–the Jews waited for a Savior, we wait to celebrate His birth, and we also wait for Him to come again. And most importantly, it is a time of invitation. We are invited again to enter into the story of Christ while we invite Christ to bring light into the dark places in our lives.
As you begin to walk through Advent–for the first or the 50th time–here are some suggested readings.
Malcolm Guite is a British poet who is a master of the English language. Waiting on the Word is his anthology of seasonal poems from various authors for each day of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. This is definitely my favorite book I’ve found on Advent! Highly recommended.
Not sure what Advent is all about? Or the rest of the liturgical year, for that matter? This is a great place to start. Even if you are familiar with the liturgical year, this book will take you deeper into the ideas and practices that shape each season.
The Seattle School is on the 5th year of this series, which comes straight to your inbox with reflections on Advent through prose, poetry, music, and art. Definitely one of the easiest ways to stay connected with the season!
Have you ever wondered why the incarnation was necessary? That is the question Athanasius sets out to answer in this short theological work. I have to include this quote: “You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of the its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled, and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be.”
And if you’re looking for a good novel…
Dickens has the odd gift of teaching his readers how to love the oddest of people. I realized shortly after reading Dickens for an entire semester that my perception towards strangers and acquaintances and friends had become much more charitable. Not only is this a great reason to read one of his works, but this particular novel begins during Christmastime. It is a story of darkness and shadows, of hopes and expectations, of generosity and forgiveness. Obviously, everyone is reading A Christmas Carol this month (right?), but if you’re looking for a longer work, this would be my recommendation.