For Families – Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
This is a beautifully illustrated keepsake book for families with elementary-aged children to use to walk through the Jesse Tree tradition during the Advent season. The story guides you day by day through God’s plan of redemption from the Garden of Eden to the Incarnation of Jesus. Voskamp includes scripture readings, family activities, questions, and links to downloadable ornaments for your tree that correspond with each day of the Jesse Tree story.
For Artists – God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe
If you are lucky, you bought a hardback edition of this gorgeous book of art and meditations for Advent several years ago before it went out of print. Thankfully, the rest of us can now purchase a recently released paperback reader’s edition. It includes beautiful art that tells the story of the Advent and Christmas seasons and meditations from writers, poets, and preachers like Scott Cairns, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus, Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson and Luci Shaw. It is a rich treasure of thoughtful mediations on the mystery of the Incarnation.
For Lovers of Narnia – Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season by Heidi Haverkamp
This book is perfect for individuals or families who share a love of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Haverkamp takes a daily look at the Advent theme of waiting through the lens of the Pevensie children and the inhabitants of Narina as they look for signs of the arrival of Aslan, even though it is “always winter but never Christmas.” She also includes questions and ideas for marking the Advent season like a true Narnia in this incredibly creative book for readers of all ages.
For Musicians – Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel’s Messiah by Albert L. Blackwell
Many of us make time to listen to the “Messiah” during the Advent and Christmas seasons and Blackwell has written a series of meditations based on the King James texts that Handel has made unforgettable for generations of listeners. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but the scripture reflections are written in the order of the oratorio so that you can read and listen through Advent and into the Christmas season, celebrating that the Messiah is with us.
For Anyone – Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hour by Phyllis Tickle
Since Advent is the beginning of a new year in the Church, I recommend a new habit of prayer if you are interested in learning to pray the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer or another pattern of prayer at fixed hours throughout the day. Phyllis Tickle has compiled a masterful series of prayer books called The Divine Hours that can lead you though a whole year of prayer—morning, noon, and night. This small book of prayers for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany is the perfect start for anyone. Tickle thoughtfully shares the prayers of the church, Christmas Carols, and scripture readings that capture the awe and wonder of the season and draw you back into prayer, hour by hour. This beautiful little book has been an indispensable part of the Advent season for me for many years.