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God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Bright-Sadness of Lent"God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter"is a superb new aid for those seeking the "bright-sadness" of Lent. From the outset, the sobriety of Lent and the joy of Easter are held together, with the former always pointing toward the latter. Ronald Rolheiser writes in the introduction: Seasons of play are sweeter when they follow seasons of work, seasons of consummation are heightened by seasons of longing, and seasons of intimacy grow out of seasons of solitude. Presence depends upon absence, intimacy upon solitude, play upon work. In liturgical terms, we fast before we feast.(xi)To help you in your fasting, the book is, at its simplest, a collection of daily meditations, each tied to lectionary-style readings and accompanied by a prayer. Absolutely gorgeous art (some sacred, some not) accompanies each reading, and histories of the feasts and fasts of Lent help newcomers appreciate the historical richness of the Lenten season.Each of these elements pulls readers into the beauty of time. Daily we read and meditate on the Word of God. Yearly we celebrate feasts and fasts, establishing the sacred rhythm of the church calendar and of our lives. And for centuries we as Christians have celebrated and memorialized our faith through art and prayer and poetry and song. The reading experience of "God for Us" is a rich one, full of good words, vivid colors, and an inviting faith.Each week's meditations are written by a different author, and Richard Rohr's writings during the first week are the perfect lens to focus your Lenten devotional practices. As a Franciscan priest and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Rohr combines elements of mysticism with calls to action. "Jesus's very first words in the Gospels are a call to change," he writes, championing first and foremost, a fast from prejudice, oppression, exclusion, and ego. The lectionary reading from Isaiah 58 - in which God's desired "fasting" includes freeing the oppressed, feeding the hungry and reconciling with family - is present throughout Rohr's meditations and keeps reader's attention ever on the end of Lent. Though Rohr begins the theme, perhaps it is Beth Bevis, writing about the history of the second Sunday of Lent, who best summarizes how Lent leads us on to something outside of itself. "Lent is best understood as a time not of denial for its own sake, but for redirecting our desires toward that which nourishes us both spiritually and physically, preparing us for fuller communion with God and each other, " she writes (49).Also notable are Scott Cairn's essays, which bring with them the ancient and beautiful and intensely physical perspective of the Orthodox Church. His reflections focus on sin and death, as proper Lenten devotions should, but always with an eye toward the eternal. "We may find ourselves moving through the darkness," he writes, "but our paths are, even so, illuminated by his light" (83). Perhaps more than any of the other writers Cairns draws out the penitential aspect of Lent. Fasting has always been a sign of broknness and repentance, and Cairns promotes this state as good and even necessary, since "the ache of repentence...is the beginning of healing" (73). Rounding out the distinguished authors of "God for Us" are author Kathleen Norris, professor and novelist James Schaap, poet Luci Shaw, and Episcopal priest Lauren F. Winner. With Greg Pennoyer's preface, Ronald Rolheiser's introduction, and the histories of feasts and fasts written by Beth Bevis, the list of distinguished contributors grows longer. In short, the books is quietly ecumenical but never compromising in its depth. The words, the art, even the craftsmanship- from the two ribbon bookmarks to the Lenten purple color scheme- are all beautiful, intentional and profound. The book is meant to last you through years of Lenten seasons. "God for Us" is the perfect guide during this sacred time; it will nurture you during this fast and prepare you for the feast to come. Erin Zoutendam, Englewood Review of Books --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Greg Pennoyer is president of The Humanitas Group which manages creative endeavors designed to enrich our understanding of what it means to be human. He is cofounder of the Centre for Cultural Renewal, member of the Board of Directors for Image journal, and co-editor with Gregory Wolfe of God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557255415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557255419
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Cairns is the author of eight collections of poetry, The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Figures for the Ghost, Recovered Body, Philokalia, Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected, Idiot Psalms, and Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems. With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place, a collection of prose and verse celebrating the intersections of landscape and ideas of the holy. He wrote the libretti for The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, an oratorio composed by JAC Redford, and for A Melancholy Beauty, an oratorio composed by Georgi Andreev. His poetry and essays have been included in Best Spiritual Writing, Best American Spiritual Writing, The Pushcart Prize XXVI, Upholding Mystery (Oxford, 1997), The Best of Prairie Schooner, and Shadow & Light, among other anthologies. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, The New Republic, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Spiritus, Tiferet, Western Humanities Review, and many other journals. He has taught American literature, poetry writing, and poetics courses at Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and at University of Missouri, where he is currently Professor of English. He also serves on the poetry faculty of the Seattle Pacific University low-residency MFA program in writing. In 1993, he founded the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, and served as its series editor from 1993 through 2006. In 2007, his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, was published by HarperSanFrancisco and his translations and adaptations, Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life, was published by Paraclete Press; the paperback edition, Endless Life, was recently released, and a new, expanded edition of Short Trip to the Edge will be released in 2016. With Jeff Johnson and Roy Salmond, he recorded, Parable, a CD of recent poems. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and was named the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri in 2009. He received the Denise Levertov Award in 2014.

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Baker on December 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I discovered this book while doing some last minute shopping on Christmas Eve day. I was experiencing that familiar feeling of "missing" Christmas again this year. I found it again in this book. It has inspired me to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas for the first time. The readings are timely, thought provoking, prayer inspiring, and quite simply BEAUTIFUL! I'm already looking for copies to give as gifts for next year. I hope the authors are planning on a similiar collection for Lent and Easter. I would order it sight unseen.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By P. Murphy on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Every Christmas my wife and I think, "O my, we've done it again - Christmas is here and we've allowed the busy-ness of the season to keep us from preparing our hearts and our home for the coming of the Christ child." We started using this book at the recommendation of a friend and whole-heartedly recommend it to you. We are being prepared this Advent and this book has much to do with it. The paintings, Scripture verses, discussions and prayers have been a great help to us and those in our small group as well.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Liz on December 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a way to focus my attention during Advent this year and heard about this book from the journal Image. As promised, the book has beautiful reproductions of art to go with each daily reading during Advent. There are also scripture passages each day and a short reflection written by one of the six contributors. Information and reflections on feast days are included, and I really like the fact that the book continues until Epiphany. I've been able to keep up so far and have been challenged and encouraged by the readings to remember Jesus in the midst of what can be a very distracting time of year. This book will make a great gift for my friends and family for next year's Advent season.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Cogan on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book guides readers through the four weeks of advent with short devotionals and prayers that lead one into new and wonderful contemplations of the Incarnation. It also includes histories of feast days and every other page is illustrated with a breathtaking sacred masterpiece. I would highly recommend it as a rich pre-Christmas gift for any deep-thinking, art-loving individual.

One quote in particular by Neuhaus struck me with awe:

"God who is the fullness of Being infiltrated our world of beings in order that we might fully be. Christmas is about incarnation, and incarnation is God's becoming what he is not, in order that we might become what he is."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. White on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book that is beautifully produced: high quality paper,printing,art,and writing. It's a perfect gift for the Advent season - for you or for others. It would be especially meaningful for those whose spirituality is a major part of their daily life. It's perfect for reading in the morning before the busy-ness of the day begins.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jdb VINE VOICE on December 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a fabulously beautiful book, both in content and in quality. Paraclete Press and editors, Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe have done a masterful job of retelling the Christmas Story through the seasons of Advent and Christmastide in this work. They have combined the gifts of art in poetry, paintings, Holy Scripture, liturgy, and prayer to produce a wonderful devotional for the Christmas season.

First, I'll share a few words on the technical aspects of the book itself. The book is heirloom quality being very sturdy. It is hardbound with glossy, heavy gauge paper. The title of the book is gold embossed on the spine over a very durable feeling red cloth cover. Paraclete Press has also thoughtfully included a single ribbon marker for place keeping. The volume is somewhat large and non-standard in size at nine and a half inches by seven inches and just slightly over a half inch thick.

Second, I will highlight some of the content details. The book is arranged as a daily reader, following the track of Advent through the weeks leading up to Christmas and then proceeding through the season of Christmastide (The Twelve Days of Christmas) and ending on the Feast of Epiphany. Multiple fonts and font colors are used to bring the reader's attention to various sections, sidebars, and highlighted areas of each devotional piece.

An incredibly gifted group of authors and spiritual writers has been invited to share in this collection of Advent devotions. Among the group are the following names: Scott Cairns, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus, Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson, and Luci Shaw.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michelle @ Liturgical Time on December 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Church calendar allows us to simultaneously look back into history at the steps Jesus and his followers through the century have taken, and forward into the unfolding of our present day walk with our Lord. This book does the same. I found myself enriched by discussion of the historical roots of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany while seamlessly inspired to live them more deeply in this present day.

Beginning with an Introduction that prepares us for wonder, continuing through an Advent section that daily guides us through this preparatory season, and providing companionship through the full Christmas season and the joys of Epiphany, this book serves as a worthy guide to the family or individual seasons of this time of year.

God with Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe, contains the writings of several talented and well known contributors, both Catholic and Protestant. The shift among from the voice of one contributor to another, as the book proceeds, adds to the sense of worship in community. Like traditional worship, this book is a sensory delight. It is the type of book that you feel the weight of in your hands. The high quality paper, ribbon marker, pervasive color, and exquisite art present a tactile and visual feast.

As we used this book night by night, I thought of families and individuals who may want to begin incorporating traditional observances into their devotional life. I have been told by some that this can be a difficult process, juggling lectionaries, calendars, and devotionals with which one is not familiar. This book however, makes the process simple and frees one up to simply drink in the blessings of the process and to worship unfettered.
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