The season of Advent begins in one week- and while many of you have the resources that you are planning to use for this upcoming season, I know that some of you are totally procrastinating and have no idea if you’re even going to do this “Advent thing” ;). If this is you, I’d like to introduce you to Not Yet Christmas: It’s Time for Advent by J.D. Walt, who is the current sower-in-chief of Seedbeed, a Wesleyan resource hub that puts out really great resources (books, videos, blog posts, curriculum, etc), sowing seeds of the Gospel and resourcing the global Church. Once upon a time, J.D. was the Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, which is how I first knew of him, and later Seedbed.
J.D. begins this reader with a call to Christians to stop complaining about the consumeristic American culture “stealing Christmas” from us (how dare the store clerk say ‘Happy Holidays’ to me!), but instead, to just live the season wholeheartedly ourselves. “Let’s joyfully embrace the fact that we will do Advent in the midst of a culture that loves Christmas but doesn’t really understand it. But let’s not be mad about it. We do no live in a Christian culture. We live in an American culture…Jesus is not competing with Santa” (vii). It is out of this vein of truly celebrating Advent and living Christ-centered in the midst of whatever else is being celebrated around us that J.D. writes each of the daily readings.
Each reading begins with a piece of Scripture that speaks towards Jesus’ second coming. I think this focus is a bit unique for many Advent devotionals– most of those I have reviewed over the years tend to be mostly focused on Jesus’ first coming to the world without a whole lot of emphasis on the future. After the piece of Scripture, J.D. writes a bit, often not more than a page of text, and then ends with a poem written by a team of poets from around the country.
One of my favorite days is Day 17: It’s Time to Recalibrate our Pace. The reader slowly reads through Psalm 25, and then our thoughts are turned to the thing we all do best– waiting. J.D. challenges us to consider why we despise waiting so much, and then asks this question- “What if the ‘paths of the Lord’ are more about pace than destination? What if our days became exercises in waiting on the Lord, as in, ‘for you I wait all day long.’ How about we take all those occasions in the coming days where we find ourselves waiting and we consider in the midst of it all that we are waiting on the Lord” (38). This devotion hit home because not only is the Advent season about waiting and anticipating and waiting some more, but also the achiever in me is far too often tempted to not wait around for something to happen, but to seize ahead and MAKE something happen. What does it look like for me to wait upon the Lord and rest in peace?
Some strengths of this reader include:
- J.D. writes with a perfect mixture of grace and exhortation. If one is not challenged by this devotional, then the reader probably isn’t reading and listening close enough.
- I appreciate the brevity of each day’s readings. The reading is not very long, and the content is quite potent, giving the reader something to carry with them throughout the day.
- The poems are a great addition. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, mostly because I don’t want to slow down and spend time on it. But, the season of Advent comes with a necessary slowing, and the poetry is a literary reminder to do that each day.
Thanks to Seedbed for providing me a copy of this reader in exchange for an honest review. I’m thankful to be using this as part of my Advent journey this year!