Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Advent Inspiration

Having edited books, a magazine, and a website, I've learned the quirks of the timelines of each media type.

When I edited Ministry Matters, we had to be useful to pastors in their planning for various seasons and events of the church year. So, we kicked off our Advent content with a "Christmas in July" week to help pastors planning their sermons, worship, and outreach efforts for the following November and December.

When I edited Circuit Rider, a quarterly magazine for United Methodist leaders, each issue went to prepress about 6-8 weeks before it arrived in mailboxes, and work on the issue began months before that. So, the issue pastors might read as Advent draws close was on my brain way back in the spring.

Book publishing takes a lot longer. This is surprising for a lot of first time authors, I find. They spend six months or a year (or more, depending on the book) working on a book and are disheartened to hear that it will likely be almost another year before it hits the bookshelves (or the preorders are finally shipped, as the case may be in this online age). So with 9-12 months' gap between manuscript and release, I was working on Advent books way back in . . . the previous Advent!

Yes, this long timeline actually worked out nicely in that last year I had the pleasure of working on Advent books actually DURING Advent! Rather than the dissociative state of writing "plan your summer mission trip" at Christmastime, I got to sit by the tree as I edited, wrote, and compiled essays, prayers, and biblical reflections about incarnation, messianic hopes, preparing for Jesus' coming, and the kingdom of God.

It was a special thing, and now (a year later) I get to share those amazing Advent books with YOU to inspire you THIS Advent . . . which starts in only ten days--whoops!--better order fast!

Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah

If you love Handel's Messiah, love Christmas music, or love anybody who's into sacred music, this book is a gem. It has forty reflections (good, theological stuff--not just fluff) exploring the scriptures that make up the libretto of Handel's Messiah. From "Comfort ye, comfort ye" (Isaiah 40:1-5) to "Amen" (Revelation 5:14) and every "behold" and "hallelujah" along the way, these essays from a variety of pastors and theologians dig into the meaning behind every Bible passage in the oratorio. Good for a daily Advent devotional, reading by the tree, or gifting to your favorite choir director.

Feasting on the Word Advent Companion

This one is for the pastor in your life (or, knowing a lot of our friends, YOU!) Part of WJK's popular "Feasting on the Word" line of preaching and worship resources, this one offers ideas and tools for Advent and Christmas. Planned thematically (not by the lectionary) this book includes sermon-prep Bible commentaries and complete worship services for the four Sundays of Advent, four midweek services, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It's a bit late to use for this year's Advent (unless you're a last-minute kind of guy or gal) but maybe for next year. Plus, there is also a Feasting on the Word Lenten Companion for your Lent and Easter planning!

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