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Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent Paperback – September 29, 2012
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"We are invited to practice a unique kind of hospitality with one another, the sort that makes room for people to share the strange ways in which God is moving in their lives, the sort of hospitality that encourages people to put down wearisome baggage and trust God to fill their emptying hands and hearts, the sort of hospitality that nurtures space for holy listening and encourages people to believe that God is always in the business of making things new, bringing life into spaces that feel barren, and strengthening the weak to receive and offer the gifts of God."
Her themes are strong ones, which she draws from the biblical texts with unusual insight and the feel of hard-earned wisdom: Part One is "Surprised and Silenced by God"; Part Two is "Preparation and Laboring with God's Promises"; Part Three is "Trusting and Receiving God's Word." Her topics inject anti-consumerist leaven into the frenzy of cultural mania, and her familiarity with biblical characters will have them coming alive to you in fresh ways.
Quick, start a group and get this devotional to work through together. You might find yourselves making a surprising invitation to the Christ child to enter your lives in new ways.
Not since Walter Wangerin, Jr.'s Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom have I come across an advent devotional with this kind of depth and sensitivity.
But within the rhythm of the Christian year, Advent is the block of time leading up to Christmas given over to waiting. The practice is as countercultural as it comes. December's secular Festivus frenzy, with its shoppingholidaypartiescookieexchangesconcertsdecoratingwrapping is an exhausting runup to December 25. Though some count down through their December with Santa-themed "Advent" calendars, a nod to the waiting for Christmas, this counting down has more to do with beating a deadline than it does with waiting.
The kind of Advent observed through church history is all about waiting. As a Jewish believer, I have wrestled more than you can imagine with the lopsided, invented rhythm of "The Christian Year" as I've compared it to the cycle of celebration God gave his children in Leviticus 23. That said, I value the practice of Advent. I need to be invited to be still, to feel the weight of the wait for my salvation, to renew hope, to contemplate the miracle and gift of God-becoming-baby.
My companion for this year's December wait will be Enuma Okoro's Silence and Other Surprising Invitiations of Advent (Upper Room, 2012)**. Okoro, a fellow contributor to Christianity Today's Her.meneutics blog, has created 28 days of brief, rich meditations readers can use to reorient themselves. Week one's meditations begin is a slightly non-traditional place - with John the Baptizer's father, Zechariah. Themes of doubt and lament fill the week's devotions. Week two moves readers to consider the lives of Zechariah and his aging, miraculously pregnant wife Elizabeth, as we ponder barrenness and our own hollow spaces.Read more ›
"Silence" takes a somewhat different slant on Advent by focusing attention on the longings and doubts of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. From the Preface: "Theirs is a story of accustomed longing and unmet desire, sustained prayer, occasional doubt, and seasons of silent retreat and seclusion. We can learn much about the tensions of a genuine faith journey from the trials and surprises that Zechariah and Elizabeth encountered in their attempts to live before God. And we can learn about the mercy and faithfulness of a God who acts in God's own timing and for God's wider purposes."
My church doesn't emphasize the observance of Advent, but I have come to value this time of being still before the Lord in waiting and anticipation. In the midst of hectic and often stressful weeks leading up to Christmas, "Silence" takes us deeper than most Advent devotionals that I've seen, encouraging us in the practice of contemplative prayer. "Advent is a season to ponder, to listen, to understand that prayer is as much about cultivating stillness and attentiveness as it is about offering our words to God."
In the final week, as we rejoice in the miracle and gift of God's Son, Okoro writes: "Jesus' birth invites us to lay down our concerns for a moment and kneel with awe and thanksgiving at the faithfulness and love of God. The longer we gaze upon Jesus, the more we realize that life as we know it can no longer remain the same. The wait for Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary is over, but their trust in God is just beginning. . . .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a religious book that provides daily contemplations for Advent based on biblical passage. Those passages, however, are not included in the book itself, so one needs to... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Chris G
This was a very thoughtful book to make you feel close to Christ in the coming of Christmas.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
A refreshing approach to Advent. These daily devotionals for the season of Advent focus on Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist -- the "other" family in the Nativity... Read morePublished 22 months ago by JP
I believe the daily readings are wonderful but my need was for something to read through and not a daily devotional.Published on June 12, 2014 by Judy Gitchel
I was fortunate to hear Enuma do a reading from this book in Washington, D.C., during the Advent season. Read morePublished on January 3, 2014 by DreamerBaf
Great guide to the advent season. New ways to think about and study Mary as well as Elizabeth and the amount of faith they required.Published on December 29, 2013 by Catherine Killmaster
This book takes the reader to a deeper, quieter place. The theme throughout is about God's plan for us in community. Read morePublished on December 23, 2013 by Suzy
This book offers reflections on what the Christmas and advent season is about... waiting for the Christ child. Read morePublished on January 1, 2013 by ruthie
This is my first year observing Advent. I'm using a few sources to draw closer to the Lord, including this one from Enuma. Read morePublished on December 23, 2012 by Ian Acheson