Seven years ago I made my own family advent guide. Days of internet searches had delivered only overwhelmingly complicated or theologically anemic options and neither felt like they would do. It’s not impossible that the fault for these abysmal search results lay at my own feet—I may have googled myself into a Christmas corner. And yet, it seems many writers shared my longing for a season to focus on Jesus the Son of God, the Son of Mary. Less than a decade later, Advent resources abound. This year instead of asking if a helpful resource exists, the question is how to choose from so many impressive options. So if you are still considering the question of which Advent resources to make your own this season, I’d like to offer up the three that have made their way into my own home.
The Advent of the Lamb of God
by Russ Ramsey
I didn’t know I read the story of Christ’s coming in 2D until Russ Ramsey showed me what a three-dimensional reading could look like. It turns out years of repetition can take the amazement out of the miraculous without you even realizing it. But in The Advent of the Lamb of God Russ Ramsey reopens the door to astonishment. Throughout 25 chapters, Ramsey retells the story of Jesus’s arrival. That seems simple, but Ramsey’s retelling refuses to let your mind trod familiar ruts through angelic announcements and no vacancy signs. Instead, the master storyteller engages your imagination and with it your intellect. This year our family is reading a chapter or two out loud after dinner most nights. Every reading takes my breath away at one point or another. I think we may have started a new Advent tradition.
Read an Excerpt from The Advent of the Lamb of God
Heaven and Nature Sing
by Hannah Anderson and illustrated by Nathan Anderson
From the minute I heard the Andersons would be teaming up to create a book of Advent reflections I already knew it would grace my bedside table. I only just received Heaven and Nature Sing a day ago but I already count it a prize Christmas possession. Hannah Anderson writes each reflection with a connection to a place—the Appalachian mountains where she resides. The hollows and hillsides and inhabitants therein create the music of her work from start to finish. And Anderson makes certain their tune becomes part of both the discordant notes and the sweeping harmonies that mark the song of Advent. Nathan Anderson’s illustrations welcome you into each new reflection with a moment of simple wonder that acts like an invitation to quiet and prepare your mind—a gift particularly suited to art. I am already loving my Advent with the Andersons.
God Speaks Through Wombs
by Drew Jackson
Advent feels like just the right time to contemplate the grandest of things alongside a poet. Jackson draws you deep into the first eight chapters of Luke's gospel through poetic writing in a way I have never seen duplicated. The richness of his work makes reading God Speaks Through Wombs feel like getting the all-access pass to the mind of Luke and the heart of God. Part commentary part hymn, you leave this work feeling like you know a secret you are bound to tell far and wide.
Read an Excerpt from God Speaks Through Wombs.
Cover image by Anthony Delanoix.