Winter tests our hope and resolve. In the Northern hemisphere the temperature drops. Storms disturb. Light fades.
But this time of year also sees the festivals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Each in some way is a reminder that light is never totally absent. Exploring a path through these festivals, Some Small Heaven seeks to discover the light within the darkness of winter – and within all our winters – to find some small heaven each day, even when life comes at us tough, hard and bleak.
Whether we are waiting for a darkness to pass or yearning for a light to come, these daily reflections and images enable us to give our care and attention to both the waiting and the yearning and to recognise the gifts that such times may bring.
Christmas is one of the most joyful times of the year. It can also be one of the most stressful. So, rather than a chocolate Advent calendar, Do Nothing: Christmas is Coming offers you an Advent countdown with a difference. From 1 December all the way through to Christmas Day, Stephen Cotterell give you short, practical steps that you can take each day to slow down, take time out - and enjoy getting ready for Christmas.
In the excitement of the weeks before Christmas, it is all too easy to overlook the fact that Christians have, down the centuries, regarded Advent as a season of penitence, a time of prayer and preparation for the great feast of the birth of Jesus, just as Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, when we remember his death and resurrection.
This book of daily Bible readings and reflective comment covers the weeks from 1 December through to Epiphany on 6 January. As well as considering the well-known events of the nativity story, it looks back to those who prepared the way – the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament and John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament. The book explores the traditional Advent focus on the 'four last things': death, judgement, heaven and hell. Rodney Holder shows how these sombre themes have their place in the build-up to the celebrations, because of another historic aspect of Advent: reflecting on the second coming of Jesus, when he will return, as Lord and King rather than a helpless baby, to set the world to rights.
Life involves many 'comings and going' as we make our way along the path of faith day by day, guided by God's Holy Spirit. This book of readings for Advent and Christmas invites us to make a journey through time, from the end to the very beginning of all things. The daily reflections works backwards from the traditional Advent focus of the 'Four Last Things' – death, judgement, heaven and hell – via Jesus' life, death and resurrection, to come at last to the incarnation and the events commemorated at Christmas itself. In the following days, the focus turns to Christ as the Word of God, present at the dawn of creation. Along the way, we 'visit' some of the actual Holy Land sites associated with Gospel events, drawing new insights from the familiar stories.
As a priest, married to a vicar, with four school-age children, Jane Maycock is all too familiar with the struggle not to be engulfed by busyness in the run-up to Christmas. As a result, the reflections she has written here are engagingly infused with real-life happenings, even as they invite us to stop and consider what Advent really means.
Drawing on the insights of biblical authors, poets such as Robert Southwell, and contemporary hymn writers including Timothy Dudley-Smith, this lovely book presents a series of windows through which we can explore the main ideas surrounding the season. We are taken through the themes of wilderness and of God’s choice, and examine the place of conflict and confrontation in Christian faith. We look deeply at the familiar nativity scene and at the idea of the second coming.
Underpinning Windows on a Hidden World is the conviction that we are bound up in an intimate relationship with a God of love. And as we take a little time out – from 1 to 25 December – to explore the Advent landscape in these daily readings, we will be encouraged to respond to the wonder of God’s tender nearness with hope and joy.