In these last few days before Advent begins (does anyone else feel discombobulated because there’s an extra week after Thanksgiving?), I’d like to take the time to introduce you to a great little book written for young families: Welcome Baby Jesus, by Sarah Reinhard of Snoring Scholar fame.
Liguori promotes Sarah’s book and mine as complementary resources. Where I’m focused in on the practical, she zeroes in on the heart of the spiritual journey that is Advent. Essentially, this is a book of daily devotions for Advent and the octave of Christmas plus Epiphany. It’s very easy to read–you could finish the whole thing in an hour–but it’s written to be savored a day at a time, to offer a chance to slow down and reflect–which is, after all, the point of the season of Advent.
Each Sunday lays out the “theme” for the week:
- Week 1: getting ready–specifically preparing our hearts
- Week 2: closely related: repentance
- Week 3: love
- Week 4: anticipation
Each day includes a short Scripture passage, a reflection, a prayer and a “live it” moment. These activities are targeted specifically at young kids and are incredibly practical, often drawing parallels between the interior and exterior lives. For example: to represent getting your heart in order, you should pick up a room in your house. Another day she suggests using a soft voice to help us remember that we are seeking the quiet of Christ’s presence in our hearts. I love this concept of using outer actions to help direct an inner reality.
Sarah is refreshingly frank about the troubles that plague family life: bickering, button-pushing, and the like. They happen in all our families, and it’s only natural to spend Advent examining relationships and looking for ways to heal them. And lest you think you, as an adult, will get nothing out of a book aimed at children, read this quote, from Monday of Week 4: “Angels are not the little winged babies we sometimes see in pictures; they are powerful spirits that fight for God. The fact that Mary was afraid tells us something about how we can rely on our guardian angels, the ones God has given us to protect us. ”
Most resources treat Advent and Christmas separately, but not this one. For the eight days, or octave, of Christmas plus Epiphany, she digs into the Christmas story. I love how she gets into the minds of the characters and thinks about them in a fresh way. Were people ticked off when the shepherds showed up in the middle of the night yelling about angels? How crazy must it have been to see kings, in their fancy clothes, flat on the dirt floor in front of a baby?
By the time Dec. 25th actually arrives, most of us have been surrounded by trees, decorations, cookies and music for weeks, and sometimes it’s easy to feel all “holiday-ed out.” But during this time, Sarah’s focus is much less “Christmas-y” in the cultural sense and much more “person”-focused: a birthday banner for Jesus, a birthday cake or special treat (which, by then, will be a welcome change of pace from cookies–at least for our family!).
All in all, this is a book I can recommend wholeheartedly, and at $2 it’s a steal.
Next week I will have Sarah come “visit” and tell you a bit more about herself and her book, and we’ll give away a copy. So check back on Monday!