When The Season of the Nativity: Confessions and Practices of an Advent, Christmas, & Epiphany Extremist by Sybil MacBeth arrived in the mail I was thrilled, 1) because it is a fabulous book full of lovely ideas for celebrating the season and 2) because I have been called an extremist (or Advent Grinch or Captain Advent or worse) and it is always good to be among friends!
This book is essential for anyone who likes the basic concept of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany but isn’t sure how turn your interest into a real celebration. MacBeth explains the purpose of the seasons clearly with many Old and New Testament scripture references and then she sends us down a creative path inspired by old traditions and new ideas. This book is better than a weekend spent on Pinterest trying to find new practices and ways to adapt your family traditions to the church year. And every page includes pictures and drawings to inspire you as you plan the seasons.
The author provides numerous ways to create an Advent calendar, ideas for making your tree while you wait for Christmas to arrive, and other Advent activities. And I think her suggestions for Christmas will be a great start for anyone looking to extend their celebration through the full twelve days. MacBeth provides practical ideas like waiting to send your Christmas cards until Christmas (who couldn’t use a few more days), suggestions for being generous during Christmas, and additional days to celebrate between Christmas and Epiphany. And finally, she gives us permission to let our celebration of the Epiphany creep into January with star decorations and meditations of Jesus, the light who has come into the world.
MacBeth is also the author of Praying in Color, a favorite suggestion of mine to anyone who is looking for new ways of establishing a habit of prayer. This books includes similar drawings and ideas for those who do not consider themselves to have any artistic talent. And I will admit that a few of the ideas seemed a little cheesy to me but if I tried them I might really gain something by stretching myself with a new practice. A few suggestions are better suited to families with young children but this book would be a good guide for anyone in any situation in life. It beautifully combines more devotional reflections with practical activities that will enrich the way you celebrate the coming of Jesus.
If you are looking for guidance in this season for living into Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany then The Season of the Nativity is for you!