I have been spending the last month looking through a number of Advent books and listening to different music albums trying to find things for my own use. I decided I would share the results because, well maybe some of you would enjoy some good advent reads and such, that isn’t full of Christmas cheese.
Edwin Robinson’s editing and translating of Bonhoeffer’s Christmas sermons, devotionals, and letters is a gem. He presents them chronologically with brief bits of biological information, so even if you aren’t familiar with the story of Bonhoeffer you will get enough to really appreciate the power of his Advent reflections.
I looked at five different daily reading books for advent and this was by far the best. It includes famous poets, theologians, Saints, sinners, and mystics from all of church history. I was suspicious that Philip Yancey was going to share page time with Oscar Romero and Thomas Merton, but the selections are top notch. Two other pluses are the content’s theme and size. Surprisingly it is substantively advent and not the premature arrival of Christmas. The selections are actually substantive enough to develop an idea and not take a paragraph from a deep thinker and let the reader project it onto their frame of reference. Karl Rhaner’s selection entitled ‘The Divine Dawning’ is worth the book alone.
Bill Mallonee’s ‘Yonder Shines the Infant Light’ is my favorite album for advent. Now Bill has my favorite album for every occasion, but this album which is presented as a Christmas album is more properly an Advent album. If you know Bill then you know what I mean. Even while reflecting on the coming of Christ child, he weaves the longing and yearning of our present situation into the songs making them as much an anticipation of the coming of New Creation as the incarnation of God in Christ. There is no other 12 song album of advent waiting goodness for 7.99 anywhere.
The other album I will have rolling on itunes during Advent will be Jackson Browne’s ‘Time the Conqueror.’ I am relatively recent fan of Jackson Browne and I can understand just not liking him. I think he is an acquired taste, but if you want to develop that taste to some great song writing check this album out. He does a bunch of reflecting on the brokenness of our world and the frustration we have when admitting it. If you want someone to sing the longing of advent with then check it out. Also, just go find his song ‘Rebel Jesus’ and be inspired to join the Advent Conspiracy.