Advent: The faith-filled countdown to Christmas

Dec. 2 is the first Sunday of Advent, the Christian season of spiritual preparation before celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Episcopal Journal presents some resources suitable for the season.

Books from Forward Movement:
O Wisdom: Advent Devotions on the Names of Jesus
Edited by Rachel Jones
Songs of thanks and praise, of lament and longing, of restoration and return have been on people’s lips for millennia. The verses of the ancient hymn, the O Antiphons, explore and celebrate the many names of Jesus and present a way to sing along with the story of God. Drawn from the scriptural words of Isaiah, the O Antiphons have been sung in churches and monastic communities since at least the eighth century. Through meditations, art, poems and photos created by people from across the church, this book offers space and time to embrace Jesus’ presence among us now — and await his coming in glory. One can enjoy these prayers and praises throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas as they beckon: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

I Witness: Living Inside the Stories of Advent
By Kate Moorehead
Many have heard the story of Jesus’ birth, but have they lived inside it? Episcopal priest Kate Moorehead invites readers to enter the story of salvation with hearts and minds wide open, experiencing the miracle of Jesus through the eyes of witnesses: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men and others. Moorehead encourages readers to bear witness — both then and now — to the marvel and majesty of a babe born in a manger, of Christ the king. These daily devotionals offer a companion through the seasons of Advent and Christmas and urge the faithful to keep reading, keep listening, keep learning, experiencing the story of Christ’s birth as both familiar and new in each retelling.

Dog in the Manger: Finding God in Christmas Chaos
By Tim Schenck,
with illustrations by Jay Sidebotham
With humor anchored by spiritual truths, author Tim Schenck helps readers maintain spiritual sanity through the often-frenetic chaos of Advent and Christmas. Illustrated by cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, “Dog in the Manger” also explores the major characters of the season in new ways, including John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Questions following each section make “Dog in the Manger” appropriate for personal or group use.

Dawn from on High
By John Alexander
Through inspiring and accessible meditations, John Alexander provides a theologically rich and biblically grounded journey through Advent, Christmastide and the first days of Epiphanytide. Based on the eucharistic lectionary of the Episcopal Church, Alexander takes the reader into the heart of Advent’s focus on “last things” and then the incarnation of Jesus. Preachers may find this volume a useful resource for preparing sermons, but any Christian may benefit from these homilies while seeking a focus on the great mysteries of salvation.

Calendar: Slow Down. Quiet. It’s Advent!
(2018 Advent Calendar posters)
Created by Susan Elliott and Jay Sidebotham, this colorable Advent calendar poster suggests ways to mark the days through Advent. The calendar offers ideas for prayer, helping others and being thoughtful about the true meaning of Christmas. It offers advice to take to our hearts and walls: Slow down. Quiet. It’s Advent!
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Books from Paraclete Press:
Wounded in Spirit: Advent Art and Meditations
By David Bannon, foreword by Philip Yancey
Christmas can be a time not only of joy but also of tears, memory and prayer. Celebration does not always come easily. In 25 illustrated daily readings, “Wounded in Spirit” offers the opportunity to commune with Scripture and the wounded artists that gave the world masterpieces of hope: Gauguin, Tissot, Caravaggio, Tanner, Delacroix, van Gogh, Dürer. While the artists’ names and paintings may be familiar, this book provides an inspiring look into the humanity of the artists themselves. They were flawed and often troubled people: a widower that saw a vision of Christ; a murderer who painted himself as Peter; a grieving father who drew his sons as Jesus and John; an orphan who saw his salvation in the Holy Family. Despite their wounds — perhaps because of them — these artists achieved the sublime. Based on the latest research in history and grief, “Wounded in Spirit” returns readers to where Christian art began. From mourning in Roman catacombs to works of the masters, readers may join the world’s great religious artists on their pilgrimages of hope and brokenness, encountering in the artists’ wounds — and their own — “God with us.”

Mother and Child: Ever Ancient, Ever New
Art by Christine Granger
Christine Granger’s artistic portrayals of Mary and her infant son Jesus, paired with the words of sages, saints, and sinners through the centuries, lead the reader to moments of intimacy with the divine Mother and Child.
For ordering information, see
Meditations from
Seminary of the Southwest:
Each Advent, Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, produces a free pocket-size Advent Meditation booklet. The contributors are a mix of faculty, students, alumni and friends who offer perspectives on the Scripture of each day. The meditation authors also record themselves reading their submissions, and the seminary shares these on its website and through its Sowing Holy Questions blog.