Advent means waiting, waiting for the coming of the Christ. Through the course of Church History, this waiting has meant a longing with a reference to the past (the Incarnation), the present (His Spirit), the future (His return). The Advent season is often marked by special traditions (wreaths and candles) and readings. It’s the readings I have in mind for this post.
Here is a list of books I’ve found helpful through the years in my devotional reading for the weeks leading up to Christmas.
God is in the Manger (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) – The editors have selected excerpts from Bonhoeffer’s letters and Christmas sermons. Given that much of this was written while he was in prison, it lends towards a sharp edge in the “waiting” of Advent. It also carries the reader into the observation of the 12 Days of Christmas.
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (Nancy Guthrie) – The editor, Nancy Guthrie, has created a collection of Advent readings by drawing upon the works and sermons of classic theologians (e.g., Augustine, Luther, Whitefield, Spurgeon) as well as contemporary authors (e.g., Piper, Schaeffer, Sproul, Tada). The result is a rich sampling of texts and reflections focusing in the wonder of Immanuel.
Behold the Lamb of God (Russ Ramsey) – Ramsey is currently a PCA pastor here in the Nashville Presbytery and a friend of Andrew Peterson. Inspired by Peterson’s wonderful Christmas album, “Behold the Lamb of God” (and the tour by that same name), the book traces the promise of the Redeemer from beginning to end. Each day’s selection focuses on one key event or period, showing how the Bible is really the one story of the Savior, Jesus.
The Greatest Gift (Ann Voskamp) – Ann Voskamp is well-known for her One Thousand Gifts. Written in that same contemplative style, this devotional traces through the lineage of Jesus, encouraging the reader to celebrate the season by marking it day-by-day with a Jesse Tree and its symbolic ornaments.
Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel: Ancient Sermons and Hymns for Contemporary Christian Inspiration (John Witvliet and David Vroege) – Another collection from years gone by, the editors give the reader an opportunity to listen in to meditations from some of the giants of the Christian faith – Augustine, Jerome, Bernard of Clairvaux, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, and several others. Which allows us to have some of our modern Western preconceptions challenged.
Any of these would be good; all of which would enrich your library.