Christian Living

The best advent devotional I have read

Last year I used the best advent devotional book I have ever read. To be fair, my reading in this category to date hasn’t been extensive. Nevertheless, I thoroughly recommend to you Christopher Ash’s Repeat the Sounding Joy.

This book is a daily advent devotional on Luke 1-2. Each day takes a few verses from those chapters and gives a short yet profound reflection, followed by the lyrics of related song and a prayer. There’s also space for writing your own thoughts at the end of each day’s reflection.

I used this book last Christmas with a newborn and found the size of each reflection not only manageable, but deeply edifying, even with little sleep and what felt like limited time.

To say they were manageable is not to say they were simplistic or even predictable given how familiar many of us are with these chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Far from it. Christopher Ash demonstrates a slow and careful reading of Scripture and he drew my attention to many astounding details I’d never noticed let alone considered and reflected upon in Luke 1-2. Every day’s reading gave me something profound to mull over in an otherwise distracting season.

Day 23’s devotion, for example, focuses on a single verse from Luke 2. I had never noticed that as the elderly prophet Anna gave thanks to God for the baby Jesus in the temple, she also spoke “to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). I had never before considered that there was a little community of nameless believers, also gathered in the temple, who were waiting for the Messiah.

We don’t know much about them, but they were likely regarded as eccentric, perhaps even mocked, by the “rich Sadducees, the privileged priests and others as they insisted on praying and waiting and waiting and hoping that God would send his Messiah”.[1]

But as Anna spoke to them about Jesus, they saw their waiting has not been vain. Ash encourages us in light of this: “Let their fulfilled waiting encourage you in your yet-to-be fulfilled longing for Jesus to return”. Waiting can be lonely, but we, like those nameless believers of old, can encourage and strengthen one another to keep going in our hope of Jesus’ return.

And above all, that’s what this book helped me to do. As I looked back to the first coming of our Lord into a world weary with sin, it made me long and pray for his second coming, when all will be made right forever. I hope that this coming advent, the same might be true for you.

You can buy Repeat the Sounding Joy here.

[1] Christopher Ash, Repeat the Sounding Joy, The Good Book Company, 2019, pp. 143-145.