On this page you will find a suggested reading list for Advent.  Please let us know if you have any questions!

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Shelley Irvine, Director of Spiritual Formation
shelley@lacanadapc.org
(818) 790-6708, X216

Waiting for Godotwaiting-for-godot

From an inauspicious beginning at the tiny Left Bank Theatre de Babylone in 1953, followed by bewilderment among American and British audiences, Waiting for Godot has become of the most important and enigmatic plays of the past fifty years and a cornerstone of twentieth-century drama. As Clive Barnes wrote, “Time catches up with genius … Waiting for Godot is one of the masterpieces of the century.”

The story revolves around two seemingly homeless men waiting for someone—or something—named Godot. Vladimir and Estragon wait near a tree, inhabiting a drama spun of their own consciousness. The result is a comical wordplay of poetry, dreamscapes, and nonsense, which has been interpreted as mankind’s inexhaustible search for meaning. Beckett’s language pioneered an expressionistic minimalism that captured the existential post-World War II Europe. His play remains one of the most magical and beautiful allegories of our time.

 

 finding-bethlehem-in-midst-of-bedlamFinding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam

When did Christmas get so chaotic? How about on the very night Jesus was born? We tend to picture softly lowing cows and a warm, cozy stable when we sing Christmas carols, but it couldn’t have been very lyrical. Soldiers marched in the street. People were pushing and shoving. You couldn’t find an empty room and food may have been scarce as well. In short, Bethlehem was the picture of bedlam. But in the midst of confusion and turmoil, God broke through and Jesus was born.

The reintroduction of this five-chapter Advent study, which includes a new Leader Guide, large print edition, and DVD, explores how God can still be heard over our human noise. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and discussion, a brief prayer, a focus for the week, and six daily Bible readings for personal devotional time.

 

Awaiting the Already: An Advent Journey through the Gospelsawaiting-the-already

The Christmas story we know so well is really a compilation of accounts found in each of the Gospels. Although the four books present the event somewhat differently, each of them leads us on the Advent journey of preparation for Christ’s coming. Awaiting the Already takes us on a tour through the Gospel narratives, showing us what parts of the Christmas story come from which Gospel, and helps us to recognize that each Gospel writer invites us to encounter a fresh experience of the birth of Christ.

This thematic Bible study is designed to be used by individuals and small groups during Advent. Each chapter offers questions for reflection and discussion, a brief prayer, and a focus for the week.

 

Advent in Narniaadvent-in-narnia

“Walking into Advent can be like walking through the wardrobe.”

With is enchanting themes of snow and cold, light and darkness, meals and gifts, temptation and sin, forgiveness and hope – and even an appearance by Father Christmas – C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fits naturally into the Advent season. As the reader seeks a storied king and anticipates the glorious coming of Christmas, these twenty-eight devotions alternate between Scripture and passages from the novel to prompt meditation on Advent themes.

Questions for reflection are included with each devotion. The book also provides several resources for churches, including four sessions for small group discussion and ideas for creating a “Narnia Night” for families. Readers will ultimately come to know God better while journeying through Narnia.

Light of Lightslight-of-lights: Advent Devotions from The Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide

This Advent book invites readers to commit to the practice of daily prayer. The collection of meditations from The Upper Room daily devotional guide is arranged to coordinate with the themes of the four candles on an Advent wreath: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. Meditations are included for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the Sunday after Christmas. A complete Leader’s Guide for small groups and instructions for making an Advent wreath are included.

 

 

 

 

The Women of Christmaswomen-of-christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary and Anna

When it comes to Christmas, the stories of shepherds, wise men, and other male figures often dominate our thinking. But right from the start, women played vital roles in God’s beautiful plan to redeem His world through Jesus. In this Christ-centered, Christmas-themed Bible study wrapped inside a gift book-perfect for holiday giving, for personal use, and for group studies-best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs helps modern women connect personally to powerful truths revealed in the lives of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist; Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Anna, the faithful prophetess.

A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God.

Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.

Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way this season. Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

 

The Meaning is in the Waiting: The Spirit of Adventthe-meaning-is-in-the-waiting

“Advent is about learning to love the waiting…”

Waiting is the primary lesson of Advent, says Paula Gooder. In the company of the biblical characters with whom the candles on the Advent wreath are traditionally associated, she helps us to discover very different kinds of waiting:

* Abraham and Sarah–who waited a lifetime for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

* The Hebrew prophets–who waited for God’s intervention, both longed for and feared.

* John the Baptist–whose ministry marked the end of one era and anticipated the new.

* Mary–whose life was shaped by waiting and by events beyond her control.

“The Meaning Is in the Waiting” is arranged for daily reading in the hectic run-up to Christmas. This thoughtful book will enable you to grow more fully into a way of being that is expectant rather than urgent, more focused on God’s presence right now than on some imagined future. You will venture on this journey in companionship with the God who waits with us.

 

Waiting for the Wonder: Voices of Adventwaiting-for-the-wonder

Imagine the hushed excitement and the vivid anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve. How much more intense that anticipation must have been for those who waited for the wonder of the very first Christmas. From the ancient prophets to the three kings, from the angel Gabriel to the stalwart Joseph, Katarina Katsarka Whitley imagines their astonishment and joy at the events unfolding around them.

In her inimitable style, Whitley places herself in the hearts and minds of the biblical characters–both real and imagined–who played a part in the Christmas narrative. She weaves stories, solidly based in Scripture, at once compelling and thought-provoking. The voices of her characters lead us closer to the Christ Child and deepen the meaning of the season of Advent for twenty-first century readers.


 Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton

Reflections for each day of Advent and the Christmas season begin with a scriptural quotation and continue with a thought from the writings of Thomas Merton on a timely theme: the Incarnation, anticipation, angels, and many more. An appendix includes a suggested plan for using each days meditation as part of a morning or evening prayer.

 

 Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness in the Season of Advent – Pamela Hawkins

Behold is an old-fashioned word we rarely hear these days. It’s not in most modern translations of the Bible.  Yet Pamela Hawkins says this word softens the edges of her heart. “I cannot say this word without moving, without extending and lifting a hand, palm open, toward the object of my attention,” she remarks. 

Enter Advent this year with an attitude of curious expectancy and trustful anticipation. Linger for a while and pay close attention to the meaning of the season as you focus on a single word each week, pray the beautiful prayers and hymn texts, and try various forms of prayer.

Behold the Word with new eyes, new ears, a new heart, and a sense of new possibilities. Let Pam Hawkins encourage and help you behold the “news of great joy,” Christ the Lord, who is coming to make all things new!

 

Lighted Windows

 

 Lighted Windows – Advent Reflections for a World in Waiting by Margaret Silf

This book offers a great advent study for those with 10-15 minutes a day to spend with the reading, the scriptural passage, and to read and hopefully reflect on the prayer included for each day. The story/short essay provided is 2-3 pages in length, easy to read, and involves a reflection by the author about that day’s topic. The book provides a small group discussion guide for each week for those who want to do the study with a group.

 

 

 

Not a Silent Night – Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem by AdamHamilton

This year, experience Advent and Christmas with the one who knew Jesus more intimately than anyone else—his mother, Mary. Imagine the pain she felt at the crucifixion, her pride as Jesus’ ministry grew, and her unrestrained joy when she looked into his tiny face that fateful night in the stable. Adam Hamilton helps you witness the life of Jesus from Mary’s unique perspective, starting at the very end and traveling back in time to the very beginning—the night of Christ’s birth. Includes 5 sessions:
1. Beginning with the End
2. The Piercing of Mary’s Soul
3. Amazed, Astounded, and Astonished
4. Mary, Full of Grace
5. It Was Not a Silent Night

 

 

Sacred SpaceSacred Space by The Irish Jesuits

Sacred Space for Advent and the Christmas Season 2014-2015 is drawn from the wildly popular Jesuit website Sacred Space and the series of Sacred Space annual books. Offering short daily prayers grounded in Ignatian spirituality, it offers busy adults a quick and useful spiritual guide crafted specially for the season. Priced to suit parish budgets, it is a portable, accessible, and thought-provoking prayer companion.

Sacred Space for Advent and the Christmas Season 2014-2015 continues to draw an increasing number of readers for whom it serves as a complement to the hugely popular website sacredspace.ie.Sacred Space for Advent and the Christmas Season 2014-2015 offers people a seasonal opportunity to discover the richness of the distinctive prayer method that has made the annual Sacred Space so beloved around the world. Using the simple six-step method first developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, the booklet provides the same daily readings and prayer starters with weekly Advent themes found in the larger book. Inexpensive and portable, it is ideal for people on the go who want to grab a few moments to read, reflect, and pray in the midst of their busy days.


Silence and Other Surprising

Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro

Usually when we think of the Advent story, Mary, Joseph, and the angel Gabriel come to mind. Okoro approaches Advent a little differently, inviting us to sit for a while with Zechariah and Elizabeth and the story of how they came to bear their only son, John. The Advent story we so often associate with the joy of Christmas actually begins with deep sorrow and longing. But thankfully, in the kingdom of God, there is always more to the story than meets the eye, Enuma Okoro writes. Zechariah and Elizabeth were good people. They had maintained faith and hope in God for many years, despite Elizabeth s inability to conceive, a condition considered shameful in their time. So they were quite familiar with the universal human experiences of longing and waiting. Even though this couple s story takes up only one chapter in Luke s Gospel, it contains enough lessons about faith and life to last for weeks. In her beautifully written, imaginative meditations for each day of Advent, Okoro looks closely at the doubts and longings of Zechariah and Elizabeth. As you explore their story, Okoro guides you to reflect on your own experiences of waiting and longing, of grief and the need for community, and of hungering for God. These poetic and poignant meditations will linger with you long after Christmas. Reflection questions and a prayer challenge accompany each week s meditations. A perfect book for individual or group study.

The VigilThe Vigil – Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ’s Coming by Wendy M. Wright

From one of the most original voices in contemporary spiritual literature comes this new book that weaves together the liturgical calendar, traditions from Christmas masses in medieval times, traditional themes of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, and stories from scripture and her own life. A delightful gift for those with whom you share the waiting and watching of the season of hope.

 

 

 

Under WrapsUnder Wraps – The Gift We Never Expected (Adult Study Book) by Jessica LaGrone

Under Wraps is an all-church Advent experience that explores the character of God described in the Old Testament and then revealed through Jesus Christ. Through small group resources for all ages, teaching video, worship ideas and visuals, sermon lead-in videos, and preaching guides, all areas of church life weave together for an exciting, new Advent celebration. Each week centers on a key word that describes a characteristic of God that is evidenced in the Old Testament and then seen more clearly through Jesus: faithful, dangerous, expectant and jealous.

The Leader Guide contains four session plan outlines, complete with discussion points and questions, activities, prayers, and more—plus leader helps for facilitating a group and incorporating the video. (Youth Version also available.)

Under Wraps – The Gift We Never Expected (Youth Study Book) by Jessica LaGrone

Under Wraps is an all-church Advent experience that explores the character of God described in the Old Testament and then revealed through Jesus Christ. Through small group resources for all ages, teaching video, worship ideas and visuals, sermon lead-in videos, and preaching guides, all areas of church life weave together for an exciting, new Advent celebration. The adult study book is the centerpiece of the program, serving as the adult small group resource and the source of content for worship planners and leaders. Each week centers on a key word that describes a characteristic of God that is evidenced in the Old Testament and then seen more clearly through Jesus: faithful, dangerous, expectant and jealous. Additional material on the theme of “Joy” is provided for an optional Christmas week focus.

The youth study guide contains everything needed to conduct a four-week study and help youth ages 13-18 explore the character of God exampled in the Old Testament and then revealed through Jesus Christ.

Under Wraps – The Gift We Never Expected (Children’s Leader Guide) by Jessica LaGrone

Under Wraps is an all-church Advent experience that explores the character of God described in the Old Testament and then revealed through Jesus Christ. Through small group resources for all ages, teaching video, worship ideas and visuals, sermon lead-in videos, and preaching guides, all areas of church life weave together for an exciting, new Advent celebration. The adult study book is the centerpiece of the program, serving as the adult small group resource and the source of content for worship planners and leaders. Each week centers on a key word that describes a characteristic of God that is evidenced in the Old Testament and then seen more clearly through Jesus: faithful, dangerous, expectant and jealous. Additional material on the theme of “Joy” is provided for an optional Christmas week focus.

The Children’s Leader Guide contains session ideas for younger and older children and fun-filled activities, including reproducible handouts.

Watch for the LightWatch for the Light – Readings for Advent and Christmas (various authors)

Though Christians the world over make yearly preparations for Lent, there’s a conspicuous lack of good books for that other great spiritual season: Advent. All the same, this four-week period leading up to Christmas is making a comeback as growing numbers reject shopping-mall frenzy and examine the deeper meaning of the season. Ecumenical in scope, these fifty devotions invite the reader to contemplate the great themes of Christmas and the significance that the coming of Jesus has for each of us – not only during Advent, but every day. Whether dipped into at leisure or used on a daily basis, Watch for the Light gives the phrase “holiday preparations” new depth and meaning. Includes writings by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Sylvia Plath, J. B. Phillips, Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster, Henri Nouwen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Kathleen Norris, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner, Isaac Penington, Madeleine L’Engle, Alfred Delp, Loretta Ross-Gotta, William Stringfellow, J. Heinrich Arnold, Edith Stein, Philip Britts, Jane Kenyon, John Howard Yoder, Emmy Arnold, Karl Barth, Oscar Romero, William Willimon, Johann Christoph Arnold, Gail Godwin, Leonardo Boff, G. M. Hopkins, Evelyn Underhill, Dorothy Day, Brennan Manning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Romano Guardini, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther, St. John Chrysostom, Giovanni Papini, Dorothee Soelle, C. S. Lewis, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Philip Yancey, J. T. Clement, Thomas Merton, Eberhard Arnold, Ernesto Cardenal, T. S. Eliot, John Donne, Gian Carlo Menotti and Jürgen Moltmann.