Yesterday, December 3rd was the first day of Advent for 2017.
Growing up in the Methodist church I encountered Advent celebrations every year and understood the meaning, preparing for Christ’s birth. Each of the four Sunday services leading to Christmas Day included selected Scripture readings from the Old and New Testament describing the importance of Jesus coming to Earth. Purple, pink, and white candles arranged in a wreath were ceremoniously lit and prayers offered for the whole of mankind to come to know the Savior of the world.
But Advent wasn’t personal for me, just a church tradition.
Only later as a mom and maturing Christian Believer did I begin to intentionally maximize the days of December not only for decorating (which I love) and planning family and friend gatherings (which I also love), but for reflecting on the Reason for the season.
Last year I enjoyed a daily devotional tool to dig deeper into Advent. The writers had me considering more intently the circumstances endured by Mary, Joseph, and her cousin Elizabeth. I felt the true worship response naturally flow out of me as I focused on what was happening in the flesh as well as supernaturally and what one baby did to change the world, to change me.
This year I was contacted by an editor from Moody Press to review Asheritah Ciuciu’s book, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional (2017, Moody Press).
In her opening message and prayer for the readers of her book, Asheritah confessed her personal challenge to allow Christmas to be all God intended in the lives of Christ followers. Through a self-directed investigation of some of the names for Jesus in the Bible, she found a new level of wonder and worship. By the time she entered her church’s Christmas Eve service that year, she felt praise and adoration swell and burst forth.
That experience became her inspiration for writing the devotional.
The book offered a variety of tools to help individuals or families celebrate each week of Advent beginning with Sunday and then five days following. Asheritah incorporated Scripture verses, prayers, and discussion/reflection questions to introduce each week’s special them of hope, preparation, joy, and love. The daily readings included a personal challenge, prayer and further study options. At the end of each week she offered a list of activities to deepen the Advent experience.
On her website (https://onethingalone.com), the author created printables of each Sunday celebration to cut into separate sections for individual family member involvement. Weekly activities, Christmas greeting cards, and additional resources for children can be downloaded as desired.
I found the book well designed and attractive in font choice, graphics, and layout. Some of the anecdotes and historical references sprinkled throughout were not particularly new or unique, but relevant and well written. Asheritah appealed generally to women, although a male reader would appreciate the strong biblical content and family devotion suggestions.
The book is available on Amazon and Christian Book Distributors, at Barnes & Noble, LifeWay, and through Moody Press. I highly recommend it as a yearly Advent resource and plan to share with my husband for our own Christmas preparation this year.
***For my followers, I was given permission to offer YOU a 40% discount to purchase your copy of Unwrapping the Names of Jesus. Use discount code ADVENT40. The code must be linked to the following web address in order for the discount to work: http://bit.ly/2mM5Slf
May you have a very Merry CHRISTmas this year and celebrate Jesus with all your heart!