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Advent and Christmas

Books for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. For groups and for individuals.
Advent Sunday: 27th November 2016

 


Comings and Goings

- Retracing The Christmas Story Through Place And Time

by Gordon Giles


This really is what I would call an advent book as it most fully reflects the purpose of advent, that journey to Christmas where we most fully reflect on the incarnation in its fullness, the journey through not just the story of Christmas but of the bible as a whole and the life of Christ made man and witness.

 Each days reflection  begins with a very short passage from the New Testament and then moves on to a contemplation that both reflects on the passage at hand, the wider story of Christmas, and also the world in which we live and how this too is a wider reflection of the bigger story. 

On the whole this is a brilliant book to journey to Christmas with. 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/11/15)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 978-0-857-46376-0
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Word Was God

- Short Reflections For Advent

by Andy John


If you are a time pressured person but that still wants to really contemplate the season of advent then this little book of one line sentences is definitely for you.

taking the prologue of John it seemlessly segue a series of sentences and reflections based around each line of the prologue in such a way as to be an advent long lectio divina on this renowned scripture passage that so perfectly reflects the incarnation.

a wonderful book and a brilliant idea. 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/11/15)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 978-0-857-46424-8
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Expecting Christ

- A York Course in four sessions

by David Wilbourne


Expecting Christ addresses a core challenge for Christians—our struggle to expect to see Christ at work in our lives and communities and the impact this can have on our faith and witness.

The high quality of these courses is evident from the leading theologians who contribute to them, such as the Bishops of London and Chelmsford, Paula Gooder and Joel Edwards.

Although clearly ideal for the Advent and Lent seasons, there is no reason why this York course could not also be used at any time of year. One word of caution though: these courses work best with a group that is used to listening to the spoken word and discussing topics openly and in-depth. There is not much here for groups who enjoy using film, art, silence, music or other media.

If your group wishes or needs to offer more than a chance to chat and debate then the course leader will need to prepare these elements in advance. The same applies to worship and prayer.

Despite those caveats, these courses continue to be very popular. Each course is supported by a CD and a transcript booklet.



Review by David Ford  (25/10/14)
Jacket
Publisher: York Courses
Published: 0000
ISBN: 978-1-909-10700-7
Stapled A5 Pbk.
Price: £3.99

The Secret Christmas

- An Anthology Of The Hidden Joy Of Christmas

by Terence Handley MacMath


A welcome reissue of this thoughtful little anthology, which covers Advent and Christmas, and the period through to Candlemas. 

This is not the public face of Christmas, described by the editor as "the Christmas we love to hate, complete with a hundred horrid chores, unwanted relations and Bing Crosby crooning in every department store".

No, it has two more personal themes: people's "secret, private response to Christmas"; and the impulse to give, "which lies at the heart of Christmas, remembering as it does the gift of God himself to us." Christmas' real joy, according to this anthology's editor, is "always to be found in those unexpected moments when we perceive the divine presence dropping in, as it were, for a visit."

You'll find in these pages some seasonal items that may be familiar to you, like the famous anonymous meditation, 'The King is Coming' (often known by it's first line "Yet if his majesty, our Sovereign Lord") and poems by Thomas Hardy, George Herbert and Robert Herrick.

But what I specially appreciated was the large number of more unusual items in the selection, among them several pieces by G. K. Chesterton, and Charles Dickens, extracts from articles first published in the Church Times, a ‘blog item' by Paul Wigmore on his song "No Small Wonder", and new poems printed by permission of their authors, Jennifer Dines and Marguerite Wood.

Definitely not a hackneyed anthology.



Review by Barry Vendy  (25/01/14)
Jacket
Publisher: DLT (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd)
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-232-53023-0
Hardback
Price: £12.99

Was The Birth of Jesus According to Scripture



by Steve Moyse


I am writing this review in the middle of Advent, a time when many of us are re-visiting the birth narratives of Jesus in our readings and meditations. However familiar they might seem to us, there is always something new and fresh to be revealed by scripture, the living Word of God.

Steve Moyise poses an intriguing, albeit far from original question: was the birth of Jesus the fulfilment of scripture or were the Old Testament prophecies quoted by Matthew and Luke used to give the birth of Jesus messianic significance?

To explore this Moyise considers five specific groups of prophecies relating to the messiah: the idea of a "forerunner", the messiah as a Son of David, the relevance of Bethlehem and Nazareth, the prophecies relating to Egypt and Ramah and, of course, the Virgin birth. With each Moyise seeks to examine what evidence there might be to justify the connection between each prophecy and the birth of Jesus.

This is well-trodden ground of course and although there is little perhaps in Moyise's work that is breathtakingly new, his approach is accessible and succinct and valuable for that. The spectrum of theological opinion on these issues is well presented.

Unsurprisingly Moyise's conclusions are inconclusive, yet, lurking behind the text, there are larger questions that deserve greater attention than the author affords. For instance, about the nature of prophecy itself; the impact on our understanding of Jesus if it is found that there are no clear links between prophecy and our Lord's life; and the more philosophical question as to whether a story is any less revelatory of truth for not being literally true. What we understand by truth remains one of the great unresolved issues for the 21st century church.

Review by David Ford  (16/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07106-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Real God In The Real World

- Advent And Christmas Readings On The Coming Of Christ

by Trystan Owain Hughes


"Life is about recognizing Christ in all our journeys."

So says Trystan Owain Hughes in this new book of rich bible meditations. Hughes writes with a warmth, authentic insight and real delight. The writing style is fresh and engaging. Story-telling punctuates this title with the security and confidence of a seasoned and secure Christ-follower.

There is a great blend of traditional Christmas, and contemporary cultural insight in what is written here. There is plenty of gracious challenge surrounding the depth and parameters of the discipleship permeating our lives.

Incarnational faith is the most consistent theme offered by way of challenge in this title. For truly "work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of his presence."

All of life is engaged with in an earthy faith that is compelling in its nature. This is winsome stuff. The 'Christ in our neighbour' section is the one area of greatest challenge and provocation for me here.

I am such a fan of Trystan's other more complex, challenging, and nuanced books. This a great, if a somewhat rushed seasonal offering. 

It's a perfect antidote to the chaos of the Christmas season—a worthy companion in the advent season. Here's to this and more Rev T O Hughes writing in the not too distant future!



Review by Johnny Douglas  (07/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-857-46265-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Haphazard By Starlight

- A Poem A Day From Advent To Epiphany

by Janet Morley


A Poem a Day from Advent to Epiphany, and as such a beautiful book for any lover of poetry, with a poem for each day from both well and lesser known poets, spanning a range of subjects and opening up a range of insights for the reader. The study of the poem by Morley, for example, grounds the poem in its original context and draws out what it may be about, ending with a singular question for the reader.

The poems chosen are beautiful and spiritual, the extrapolation of them clear and interesting. Though it's sold as a poem a day from Advent to Epiphany the book works for any time as the first 17 poems are not overly tied into the Advent to Epiphany journey, however from the 18th entry onwards they definitely are much more religious and tied into the season.

I really enjoyed this book, as a good way to enjoy poetry each day and perhaps journey through the Advent season. It worked for me, though I think perhaps the title tells more of the journey than expected.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (03/09/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0-281-07062-6
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Companions on the Bethlehem Road

- Daily readings and reflections for the Advent journey

by Rachel Boulding


You may think, as I did "what – not another Advent reading book!" Yes it is – but with a different slant. Based on the lectionary readings for Advent and sub-divided into weekly themes and daily portions, this book is a gem. The author brings her literary expertise to enlighten the passages by using short quotes from a variety of poets, ranging from Tennyson, to Herbert and W H Auden.

The Advent readings themselves are like precious gemstones. So often we try to attack them head on. As a diamond throws out different lights and sparkles when lit up from oblique angles, so this book sheds new light through its oblique approach.
Non-poetry readers – do not be put off. The poetry is well chosen and does not dominate each day's reading. Indeed – it may well encourage you to go to the poem's source and so gain further insight.

Finally there is the added bonus of a reflection at the end of the reading, as a spur to think afresh and maybe to act.
Highly recommended.

Review by Margaret Walker  (15/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: 21 September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-46065-3
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Inside the Christmas Story

- Reflections for Advent

by Anthony and Melanie Bash


The back cover of the book tells you ‘If you are troubled by the loss of ‘Christ in Christmas’ and by the noise, pressure and materialism of secular Advent and its emphasis on the material and commercial rather than preparation for Christmas, this book will help to restore the balance.’ This sums it up very well, but I would also add that at the end it stresses that unlike the commercial world would have us believe, Christmas Celebrations should not end with Christmas Day!
As I started to read I thought ‘I know all that!’ but of course not everyone does and it does no harm to remind those of us who think they know it all, of the information that we may have glossed over with its familiarity and , yes, I admit it, there are still snippets of information I did not know and thoughts drawn to my attention that will help in the coming weeks. We can always learn something new if we are willing.
Well worth giving attention to.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (29/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: Autumn 2012
ISBN: 978-1-441-12158-5
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Windows on a Hidden World

- Exploring the Advent Landscape

by Jane Maycock


A Christian reader’s advent calendar! So, no visual images or little windows to open, but a daily considered reading from the 1st – 25th of December that sets before your minds eye keen insights through the journey of Advent to Christmas.
Most are short easy reads, but with deeper context just lying under them, that take perhaps only five minutes to read, so are perfect for quiet time devotions and easy enough to do each day, but coloured with down to earth understanding of issues such as the wilderness experience in Christmas (perhaps a form of loneliness), heaven, hell, judgement, and jingle bells.
Each day we reflect on the juxtaposition of modern Advent experiences, Santa, Christmas songs etc set against the birth of the Christ Child, the meaning of the incarnation and aspects of being Christian and other biblical and theological principles. It is done in a gentle, easy to read way with wonderful prose meditations and poetic references. A lovely book that is sure to be a wonderful twenty-five day Advent devotion, a joy to read, perhaps while you allow a dated Advent calendar to mark the time with you too!

Review by Melanie Carroll  (18/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 08 August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06509-7
Paperback
Price: £7.99

In All Senses

- Daily Meditations and Prayers for Advent

by John Cox


There are the physical senses and there are the many spiritual and emotional senses of, e.g., 'Wonder', 'Guilt', 'Gratitude', Humour', 'Importance' and 'Presence of God', six of the twenty-nine which John Cox suggests so that we make 'connections through them with the Jesus story and the Christian journey.' (p. 6).
Each 'meditation' begins with one or more passages from the Bible, followed by a 'Reflection', suggestions for a personal 'Response' and a 'Prayer', which may come from 'Common Worship', Scripture or another author, such as Blessed Pope John XXIII, Frank Colquhoun, Christina Rossetti, or be the author's own prayer.
The 'sense' for each day is not based on the readings found in the Liturgy for the days of Advent; this is not a criticism, for it allows us to focus on aspects of our lives, and the gifts of God to us, which may easily be missed, forgotten or have lain unrecognised. These meditations are welcome as they are not too long, are practical and, above all, are full of prayer. They provide a daily uplift; as the author says, it is important and of value to make time for God during Advent.
One minor caveat: a 'Scripture Index' would be useful, so that one could work back to a reflection.. It may be mid-July - but be ready for Advent: buy this book!

Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (24/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Kevin Mayhew Publishers
Published: 07 July 2008
ISBN: 978-1-848-67043-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Innkeeper



by John Piper


First published in 1998, now reprinted with new cover and new art.
This is fiction but deserves careful consideration and thought.
In John Piper’s imagination Jesus has returned to the place of his birth, to meet the innkeeper who gave shelter to Mary and Joseph and to hear from the innkeepers lips what happened after the holy family escaped to Egypt.
Written as a poem, with sympathetic art work the story holds your attention from the first. How many of us give a thought to the innkeeper and his family after the first heady days of Christmas. Couldn’t it very easily have played out just as John Piper has imagined it? A sobering thought, but one well worth pondering on.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (02/12/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: 16 September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-433-53025-8
Hardback
Price: £9.99

Preparing the Way

- Cover to Cover - 31 Days for Advent

by Derek Tidball


Preparing the Way is another book in CWR's Cover to Cover series of study guides. Covering the whole of December Preparing the Way looks at the prophecies that pointed to Jesus coming as a baby, and also the many people who were players in the Christmas story. Even reading the book in October I found Tidball's comments and explanations thought provoking, and having passed the book around church the number of people who are ordering Preparing the Way for their own advent meditations tells the story for how good this book is. My only problem is that, while the book covers the whole of December with meditations up to New Years Eve it does not cover either the whole of Advent (starting on November 27th this year) or the whole of the Christmas season. Even so this is a great book for those wanting something to prepare the way in their hearts and minds this Christmas.

Review by Phelim McIntyre  (27/10/11)
Jacket
Publisher: CWR (Crusade for World Revival)
Published: August 2011
ISBN: 978-1-853-45613-8
Stapled booklet
Price: £6.99

The Incredible Journey: Christmas from Genesis to Jesus

- BRF Advent Book 2011

by Steve Brady


I am a fan of BRF Advent books and warmed to the theme of this one as soon as I started to read.
December 1st to January 6th split into seven day periods, makes five sections plus two days. These are designated as Starting out: Crashing badly: Detouring often: Arriving on time: Journeying on and Homeward bound. Does that sound a familiar pattern in your life? It does in mine!
Steve Brady has used passages from Genesis to start with, followed by mostly Old Testament readings with a few appropriate New Testament readings interspersed. There is a satisfyingly long passage from scripture at the start of each day, followed by Steve’s related thoughts and a final reflection. These reflections are sometimes prayers but more often points to ponder and use in our own prayers.
Excellent and highly recommended

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (10/10/11)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-857-46003-5
Paperback
Price: £7.99

What’s the Point of Christmas?



by J.John


Oft re-printed since its first publication in 1988 this little booklet, reaches out each year to yet more people who do not understand what Christmas is all about, or maybe have very wrong ideas. J.John explains the origin of some of our customs, for instance the Christmas tree, and then tells about the birth of Jesus, who he is, and what his coming to earth means for us all - without exception.
As the publisher points out this booklet also includes Christmas carols and colour photographs and illustrations, still at the price of £1.99 - an ideal stocking filler.

50 copy outreach packs are available for churches at a special discount price.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (30/09/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion
Published: 23 September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-745-95560-5
Booklet
Price: £1.99

Daily Thoughts for the Advent Journey

- Radio Reflections

by Niall Ahern


A broadcast 'Thought for the Day' slot is a coveted, but daunting, task. Father Ahern has learned the technique very well. The best way to appreciate these Advent meditations, originally delivered on local radio, is to read them out loud.
He acknowledges that his reflections are based on Tom Cox's Scripture Thoughts from Intercom. Each one begins, 'Advent is about.....' (e.g.) 'a journey', 'putting Herod back into Christmas', 'preparation' and 'giving right of way to God'. These starting points are sometimes obvious, sometimes not so. Each ends with a personal question, or an encouragement to do something - and 'Amen', which indicates we are at prayer, not just mentally pondering; it is a reminder to let the 'Thought' affect our lives, and those of others.
There is a 'Foreword', 'Introduction' and 'Advent Prayer', which could be part of the daily meditation. 'Thoughts' for the days of Advent follow, concluding with 'The Blessing of the Manger on Christmas Eve', 'Christmas Day' and 'New Year's Day'.
It is suitable for the committed Christian, as a non-threatening early Christmas present for someone who has wandered away from God and for younger people.
These 'Thoughts' make excellent companions for the always over-full Advent Season. This reviewer wonders whether Father Ahern has composed 'Thoughts' for other seasonal journeys. Hopefully, he has - or will.

Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (16/06/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-856-07719-4
Paperback
Price: £4.99

Ready Steady....Slow

- An Advent Calendar to Unwind With

Contributors include Nick Baines, Dave Bookless, Stephen Cottrell, Paula Gooder etc.


Another of Church House Publishing little books for Advent. This year’s booklet, as the Archbishop of Canterbury says, is an invitation to ‘slow down... and take time to look inwards at our hopes and fears: to look outwards at a world in need of hope; and to look God-ward, confident in His love and commitment to the world.
To help us to do this, there are simple suggestions for each day to make us think more deeply about a specific issue by reading, reflecting and praying.
A pocket sized book that will be as easy to follow as it is to carry in a pocket or bag. Well done CHP!

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (01/11/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: October 2010
ISBN: 978-0-715-14221-9
Booklet
Price: £4.99

Journeying Towards Jesus in Advent



by Denis McBride


This timely book honours and celebrates the coming of God to us at Christmas in the person of Jesus. It is an antidote to the garish and clamorous commercial world with its pagan overtones of trees and mistletoe and fairy lights. The book is divided into five parts, beginning with the preparations for the end of the world when Christ will come again. It then moves on to more familiar territory - John the Baptist, the wild one, the forerunner who will prepare the way. Then we come close to Joseph, the quiet man who accepts without question what God asks of him, who will do everything necessary to protect Mary and the child. Then the story of Mary herself, the mother of the word incarnate, young and innocent but quietly accepting the astonishing news from the angel Gabriel. Finally Christmas, poor shepherds and the wise men and the Christ child. A new beginning. The relevant Gospel texts are brightened with lovely coloured illustrations which make the book a delight to read and look at.

Review by John Irvine  (01/11/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Redemptorist Publications
Published: Autumn 2010
ISBN: 978-0-852-31382-4
Paperback
Price: £10.95

The Advent of Peace

- A Gospel Journey to Christmas

by Mary C. Grey


This is a serious and challenging book which is primarily meant to be read during Advent but as the main theme of the book is ‘peace’ it has important things to say whatever the time of year. Each chapter makes reference to the gospel nativity stories and relates them to issues of contemporary culture and the author’s own experience and insights she has of places e.g. Bethlehem and situations in the Middle East.
The author is keen to focus practically on how peace and reconciliation, not just in war-torn lands, but in all relationships might develop by giving turning into forgiving thus testing the heart’s integrity and the willingness to inhabit the space of the other. This becomes especially highlighted when the author dwells on the conflict between Christian, Jew and Muslim.
This book needs to be read slowly as there is a wealth of information on each page – information which needs to become more than head knowledge as it is considered and embraced. As the author reminds us – it is only when, like the shepherd, we arrive at the crib that our journey begins.

Review by Deborah Reynolds  (29/10/10)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 19 August 2010
ISBN: 978-0-281-06232-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Praying Advent

- Three Minute Reflections on Peace, Faithfulness Joy and Light

by Joan Mueller


This small compact book is full of essential reading for the run-up to Christmas. It consists of relevant scripture readings for Advent from both Testaments, then a meditation on this reading, followed by a suggested spiritual practice to do during the day. This last part is particularly useful as it involves a self examination of our lives and priorities. It emphasises the true preparation we should be making amid all the other demands of the Christmas season. The book is divided into four weekly sessions with a slot for each day. Only ten minutes reading each morning, but as much time as one can spare during the day, for reflection and action.

Review by John Irvine  (28/10/10)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: Autumn 2010
ISBN: 978-1-565-48358-3
Paperback
Price: £5.95

When He Comes

- Cover to Cover: 31 days for Advent

by Graham and Molly Dow


Are we so focused on Christmas that we overlook Advent? If so, this may be the antidote you need! It is common practice to use daily readings during Lent but not so often during Advent. Here is a book that provides thirty-one days of readings and reflection dated for every day in December written by Graham and Molly Dow (Graham was Bishop of Carlisle and is now a consultant to clergy in Chester Diocese. Molly was a Spiritual adviser for the Willesden area of North London and for Carlisle Diocese, and is a Reader in the Church of England).
The book is divided into five main sections entitled God’s Great Plan Unfolds; The View from HQ; Christ’s Return; The Action Begins; and Whatever Next?
Each day has a Scripture reading printed in full (NIV translation), followed by a ‘To Ponder and Discuss’ comment to set you thinking. Here is a highly recommendable book that could be used devotionally as an individual or in an informal group of two or more people who could share their responses face to face, by telephone or by email.

Review by Graham Wise  (13/10/10)
Jacket
Publisher: CWR (Crusade for World Revival)
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-853-45566-7
Paperback
Price: £7.50

Pilgrims to the Manger

- Exploring the Wonder of God With Us

by Naomi Starkey


I have reviewed BRF Advent to Epiphany books in the past by browsing through them but wanting to keep them for reading properly when Advent started. This time I began to read and found myself reading on and on, completely absorbed in the pilgrimage Naomi Starkey was leading.
The theme is a walk through an imaginary cathedral city; first through the town centre, then the suburbs, before going out into the country and viewing the city from a hilltop. Back into the city the next week is spent in the cathedral and the following week we travel home through the countryside to where we part from our fellow pilgrims on a quiet beach.
Every day we are encouraged to think about different issues arising from what we see around us and relating that reflection to the chosen Bible reading for the day. The complete reading is here in the book, the reflection is well worth time spent meditating upon and the closing prayer/reflection for the day is well worth remembering long after the Advent season.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (30/09/10)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: September 2010
ISBN: 978-1-841-01709-9
Paperback
Price: £7.99

Words for Advent

- Bible readings on the Theme of Our Time

Edited by Nicola Slee


Taken from material already published by IBRA in Words For Today 2007, this booklet can be used by individuals or groups preparing for the Christmas season.
The themes for the weeks are firstly The Time is coming, especially for Israel then The time is coming, for all peoples, followed by The coming one is here and The time has come and is coming. For each week there is an introduction and separate readings, thoughts and prayers for all seven days. Of necessity as a reviewer I have only been able to read through quickly. Don’t be tempted to do the same! These passages will reward contemplation and time spent in prayer. Price includes postage and packing if you purchase direct from Christian Education.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (09/08/10)
Jacket
Publisher: IBRA from Christian Education
Published: 01 September 2010
ISBN: 978-1-905-89343-0
Stapled Paperback
Price: £3.99

Shock and Awe

- Tasting God’s Outrageous Grace – BRF Advent Book

by Ian Coffey


Daily readings for the Advent season, running from December 1st to January 6th, which can be used personally or, with the questions at the end, for groups. Each day features a Bible passage, a short exposition and a ‘reflection’ for further thought, and covers two and a half pages at most. The scriptures are from both testaments and are arranged in six sections: Legacy – different aspects of faith; Promise – prophecies fulfilled in Jesus; Encounter – surprising meetings with Him; Grace – what it means to receive freely; Followers – the implications of hearing and obeying His call; and Future – a reminder that His people have a future and a hope. I wasn’t keen on the title with its American military associations. To be fair, the author’s intention is to challenge the idea that shock and awe can only be achieved by imposing force and violence, but the reader will not know that unless they buy the book and read the introduction! As it is, the title is all that makes it stand out from the many other sound books of advent readings. Perfectly acceptable; a good present for new Christians approaching their first Christmas as believers, or for use in a study group of the same.

Review by Diane Morrison  (26/03/10)
Jacket
Publisher: BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-841-01641-2
Paperback
Price: £6.99

Pocket Prayers for Advent & Christmas



Compiled by Jan McFarlane


This is very handy addition to the Pocket Prayers range of books.
This edition drawers its prayers from sources such as Common Worship Times & Seasons and the Iona Community Worship Book as well as famous theologians and hymn writers.
It is designed for personal devotion but would also work well for people leading Advent study groups.
The book is laid out into five sections beginning in Advent and finishing with New Year and Epiphany. It also has an index of first lines, authors and sources which should make finding what you’re looking for easier.

Review by David Rose  (25/11/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Church House Publishing (CHP) part of Hymns Ancient & Modern
Published: Autumn 2009
ISBN: 978-0-715-14196-0
Paperback
Price: £5.99

Joyful Christianity

- Finding Jesus in the World

by Cally Hammond


Dr Cally Hammond draws on years of pastoral and scholarly experience to enable her readers to rediscover or deepen Christian belief. She draws on the ‘joyful mysteries’ of the Gospel of Luke: the annunciation, the visitation, the birth of Jesus, the presentation in the Temple and the finding in the Temple. The five short chapters make this an excellent Advent book, especially for those of us who find that the Christmas rush has little to do with joyful Christianity! I particularly appreciate the fact that she includes the relevant Gospel passages instead of presuming that we are familiar with them.

Review by Teresa De Bertodano  (25/11/09)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-281-06087-0
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

- Stories and Reflections on the Daily Readings

by Megan McKenna


Together Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – Stories and Reflections on the Daily Readings and Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – Stories and Reflections on the Sunday Readings are companion volumes, based on the Catholic Lectionary. They offer commentaries on the readings of the day, stories and prayers, from five to nine or ten pages. There is plenty, therefore, for Clergy preparing Services or for others to deepen their knowledge of scripture, the seasons celebrated and the feasts within the seasons.
While intended primarily for the North American market (Our Lady of Guadalupe is included), St Thomas Becket does get mentioned on 29 December. On 1 January, there are Masses for both 'Mary, Mother of God', and ’Peace in the World'.
The same useful 'Introduction' is used in both volumes - but the icon of 'Our Lady of the New Advent' does not appear on the cover of either book (p. xi and p. x respectively) which is a pity and a publisher's lapse.
These are excellent resources and aids to help us focus on the religious - the real - importance of these seasons.

Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (24/10/09)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: Autumn 2009
ISBN: 978-1-565-48301-9
Paperback
Price: £14.95

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

- Stories and Reflections on the Sunday Readings

by Megan McKenna


Together Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – Stories and Reflections on the Daily Readings and Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – Stories and Reflections on the Sunday Readings are companion volumes, based on the Catholic Lectionary. They offer commentaries on the readings of the day, stories and prayers, from five to nine or ten pages. There is plenty, therefore, for Clergy preparing Services or for others to deepen their knowledge of scripture, the seasons celebrated and the feasts within the seasons.
While intended primarily for the North American market (Our Lady of Guadalupe is included), St Thomas Becket does get mentioned on 29 December. On 1 January, there are Masses for both 'Mary, Mother of God', and ’Peace in the World'.
The same useful 'Introduction' is used in both volumes - but the icon of 'Our Lady of the New Advent' does not appear on the cover of either book (p. xi and p. x respectively) which is a pity and a publisher's lapse.
These are excellent resources and aids to help us focus on the religious - the real - importance of these seasons.

Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (24/10/09)
Jacket
Publisher: New City
Published: Autumn 2009
ISBN: 978-1-565-48300-2
Paperback
Price: £14.95