Comfort & Joy

Advent Devotionals for 2020

We invite you, this Advent, to make space in every day to read and reflect on what it means for God to be with us in real and living ways. The good news of Christmas is that Christ comes to bring us hope. Christ comes to bring us joy. How will you hear that message this year, in all that has happened in 2020? How will you believe in the nearness of Christ and feel his peace and his love?

Advent devotionals are a good resource for daily reading and reflection. Below is a list we have compiled of materials that we find especially meaningful and helpful. The title of each devotional is a link that you can use to order a copy. The description highlights what you will find within their pages.

Take time to look through this list and select one that you find most appropriate for you. Share that time with your family and grow together in the hope of God-with-us.

All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas by Quinn G. Caldwell
You may remember this devotional that Pastor Lora referred to in a sermon last year (“Is there anybody else out there who hates tasteful Christmas decorations? Who, when faced with a color-coordinated Christmas tree covered in matching ornaments, has to fight off the urge to set it on fire…”). Caldwell is real about the stress and anxiety the Christmas season provokes. For each day in December and the twelve days following Christmas, Caldwell provides a separate reading and a prayer for both morning and evening. Plus there is a weekly calendar of things for you to do to help create “a holy breathing space.”

Expecting the Unexpected by Blair Meeks
In addition to scripture, meditation, and prayer, Meeks incorporates hymns that add another dimension to hearing the story of God become human. Advent, Meeks says, “offers an invitation to reflect on our own relationship with Jesus and prepare to receive him into our lives again. Advent also invites us to remember the urgent reasons for Jesus’ coming and God’s desire to make a new beginning for the earth and all its peoples.”

Keep Watch with Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers by Claire Brown and Michael T. McRay
For each day of Advent, the authors provide a scripture, reflection, prayer, and action to take as “spiritual resources folks need to prompt and sustain social action.” Yearning to lay foundations for peace and peacemaking, the authors offer “daily practices accompanying each reflection [that] are designed to give suggestions for integrating the reflections in your life and push you to think creatively about the ‘so what’ of the Keep Watch with Me journey.” Each day features a different contributor such as Becca Stevens, Pádraig Ó Tuama, Shane Claiborne, and J. J. Warren, commanding contemporary voices of theological reflection.

Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems
A book of poetry reflecting on the mystery of Christmas. “What do I want for Christmas? I want to kneel in Bethlehem, the air thick with alleluias, the angels singing that god is born among us. In the light of the Star, I want to see them come, the wise ones and the humble…What do I want for Christmas? To see in that stable the whole world kneeling in thanks for a promise kept: new life. For in his nativity we find ours.”

Meeting the Messiah by Kara Lassen Oliver
Oliver extends her devotional into the season of Epiphany with an encouragement to slow down and focus on the Christ child. Each week focuses on a character in the nativity story: The Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, Mary, the shepherds, the magi, and Jesus himself. Oliver offers a reading for each day and invites you to create a space to reflect each day by offering questions for you to ponder and journal about.

Prepare the Way: Cultivating a Heart for God in Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins
Each week of Advent revolves around a theme word: peace; justice; fearlessness; and faithfulness. Each day of the week has its own way of reflecting upon that word that includes prayer, scripture, journaling, and guided reflection questions. Laying readings from the prophets alongside the Gospels, Hawkins believes we will find “a redemptive future of joy, kindness, and peace- all made possible by God’s steadfast love born into the world.”

Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro
Using the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth from the Gospel of Luke, Okoro provides a  scripture reading, a reflection and a prayer for each day in Advent. In the preface, Okoro describes Advent as a time for “cultivating stillness and attentiveness” and an invitation to “be patient and to be still…In Advent we receive four weeks to dwell on what God’s vision might be for us and for those whose lives we touch. Four weeks to dwell on how the courage of expanding our imagination might feed into the growing kingdom of God. Four weeks to gather our wits about us for another year; preparing our bodies, minds and spirits to receive the Christ child and take him out into the world for others to see and praise, worship and obey; the Christ with whom we dream big and imagine wildly.”

The Wondrous Mystery: An Advent Reader compiled by Benjamin Howard
Compiler Ben Howard writes, “The glory of the Advent season is that it’s irrational. It shows us a glimpse of the way that God turns the world and our expectations upside down. . . In a season filled with the longest, darkest nights, we are told to wait for the coming of the most beautiful light.” Including works by Barbara Brown Taylor, Henri J. Nouwen, Sue Monk Kidd are readings grouped by themes (Light and Darkness, Peace and Strife, Solitude and Community, Simplicity and Complexity) that include a reading, a reflection question, and a prayer for each day of Advent.