Advent is almost here and if you are hunting for Advent devotionals, Paraclete Press have some great ones. In fact, for the past few years, Paraclete has been my go-to publisher for books for Advent and Lent. They are the publishing arm of the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical Christian community in the Benedictine monastic tradition. Two family oriented books I’m really excited about are: All Creation Waits and Look!
All Creation Waits
For Advent last year, my family read through Gayle Boss’s All Creation Waits, which counted down the days of December to Christmas with woodland creatures. In the northern hemisphere the days leading up to Christmas are dark and cold. Boss had us look to animals, some asleep, others with only wit and instinct to carry them through lean winter days. From the animals we learn what it means to wait. And Christmas morn we read of Jesus the light come into the world.
All Creation Waits may be my favorite devotional we’ve read as a family. Last year, my wife and I read this with kids (then ages 9,7, 5 and almost 2). The two-year-old paid no attention but the other kids listened with interest, excited to discover how each creature waited out winter. And of course David Klein’s beautiful woodcuts brought each animal story to life (Here is my post about the book from last November). This is a perfect daily reader for the season, and not just great for kids. It helped me see the season a little more and discover how to wait through dark days.
A new book I’m excited about is Look!: A Child’s Guide to Advent & Christmas by Laura Alary, Illustrated by Ann Boyajian. Alary and Boyajian previously collaborated on a similar book for Lent and Easter, Make Room, which my kids also loved (my review of that book is here).
Alary describes the traditions of Advent (e.g. the Jesse Tree, the Advent Wreath) and what the season of Advent means. She explores what it means to wait by inviting us to look back, look around and look ahead. We look back at the people of Israel suffering in oppression but awaiting God’s action on their behalf. We look around, the way John the Baptist watched and waited for the time at hand and saw the Spirit descend like a dove on his Jesus after he baptized Him. We look ahead, the way Mary heard the angels word’s, consented and became pregnant with her savior and lord. And yet nine month she carried him (and 30 years raised him!). With Mary we learn to say yes to the things God may be calling us to.
Alary has practical suggestions of how we can step out and be more kindhearted and generous with others. This is what most excites me about this book. When my kids read Make Room they came away with a new appreciation for the liturgical season and the ways attempt to make more space for God in our lives. This book invites kids to pay attention and I wonder what they will see!
Notice of material connection: I received copies of these books from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest reviews