Company in the waiting: 6 Advent resources for you

I used to feel pressure from Advent, as though creating space for the Lord or doing Advent readings was just one more thing to do in a busy season. But since then, I’ve become gentler to myself here. I don’t want just one more thing to do. I want something that helps me quiet my heart and be present with the things that really matter.

This year especially, I’m grateful for the invitation to slow down, to have company in the waiting. Here are the three things I’m planning to do this year for Advent, plus three books I’ve done in the past that I recommend.

This year I’m planning to read Jotham’s Journey with my kids. Their attention span for read-aloud books has increased dramatically this year, and I think they’ll really get into this story that builds in excitement and anticipation up until Christmas. I remember loving my mom reading it to me as a child. Each day left me on the edge of my seat, eagerly awaiting the next day’s reading to find out what would happen to Jotham next. I also love the tie-in with the birth of Jesus, as Jotham’s story parallels certain aspects of the Biblical narrative.

I’ve heard such good things about The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp, and thrifted a copy earlier this year. It doesn’t start until December 1, but I’m planning to start reading a few days early on Sunday (Nov 29.) Inevitably, I’ll miss a day or two and it feels like grace to plan for that. I appreciate Ann’s rich and lyrical writing and look forward to these daily readings.

I’ve been so grateful to learn from Rev. Summer Gross this year, and am so looking forward to her gentle voice leading me through Advent with her “Behold Your God” series, pairing Scripture and stories with the music of Handel’s Messiah to be delivered to my inbox starting December 1. I’ve deeply appreciated the sampling I’ve already listened to of this audio experience, and am grateful to have a way to slow down and listen with one of my favorite teachers.

Other Favorite Advent resources:

These books have become favorites of mine that I’ve utilized other Advent seasons. They each have helped slow my heart down and sit with the Lord. They aren’t too long and are even structured in ways that feel less-pressured to me. Plus, they all could be used with your family, depending on the ages of your kids.

The Jesus Storybook Bible

This isn’t technically an Advent book, but if you start at the beginning of the Jesus Storybook Bible on December 1, you’ll end up at the Christmas story just in time for Christmas. (There are 24 readings.) I love the beautiful writing of Sally Lloyd Jones, as she writes each part of the narrative to point to Jesus. There are echoes of Jesus throughout every Old Testament retelling. This one is a favorite year round for our family, but feels especially impactful to read at Christmas.

“God would keep on rescuing his people. And the time was coming when God would send another brave Hero, like Daniel, who would love God and do what God said–whatever it cost him, even if it meant he would die. And together they would pull off the Greatest Rescue the world has ever known.” (159)

The Advent of the Lamb of God

I think this one feels like the Jesus Storybook for Grownups to me. I find at Christmas (and probably all the time) I need less pressure and to-do lists and shoulds. Instead, my heart craves narrative and invitations and stories. This book is just that. It isn’t a traditional devotional, although there are 25 chapters if you choose to read them leading up to Christmas. But you could also read this anytime.

I love that this book is full of familiar Biblical narrative but written with a freshness, as a story all pointing to Jesus. I love the lack of preaching, as it assumes that the power of this story is enough. And it is. This one also sends me to my Bible to compare the compelling writing of Russ Ramsey to the Biblical narrative. I’m so impressed with how much Scripture is used, even as he is using imagination to bring life to familiar stories. In the introduction, he states, “my hope is that this journey through the pages of Scripture will capture your imagination in ways that will serve your life long study of the Bible.” For me, that has been true. I’m grateful.

“The truth was that Moses’ life spanned only a small part of the story he was in. He was a player in the drama of the promise of redemption God had made hundreds of years before he came on the scene. Though this was difficult for Moses, the Lord’s discipline held an important truth for all who would be called upon to lead his people: Moses wasn’t meant to be the hero of Israel’s story. Someone else was.” (64-65)

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

I love these reflections on the different names of Jesus and what they mean to us, especially in this season of waiting. I appreciated the opportunity for a liturgy-type reading on the Sundays of Advent and the ways to go deeper as an individual or family with the readings. One thing to mention is that there are only five readings plus a Sunday entry per week. If having a day off sounds helpful, this book is written to have that flexibility.  I loved these reflections on who Jesus is, savoring different aspects of his character as part of the Christmas season. 

“When we submit to His lordship in our lives, we can rest assured that we are in good hands. Unlike earthly lords who are motivated by greed and pride, our Lord is motivated by goodness and righteousness. Our best interests are intimately woven into His, so when we act on what He tells us to do, we inevitably do what will bring us into a more abundant life of joy.” (59, from the entry, Jesus is the Lord of Lords)

However you choose to engage with the Lord this holiday season, remember that time spent with the Lord is not wasted. It doesn’t have to look perfect or ideal to “count.” The Lord wants to be part of your real life. You don’t have to finish every entry of a devotional or do certain things to be loved.

These books and resources are certainly a few ways to posture your heart towards the Lord this season, but they are not the only ways, by far.

May you feel freedom and grace as you seek the Lord during the Advent season.

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