In this advent devotional, Christopher Ash asks whether we are overfamiliar with the Christmas story. He follows it with a challenge, ‘What if you could experience it afresh?’ The 24 daily readings focus on Luke 1 and 2, concentrating on one thought each day. He makes clear that the purpose of these readings is not to merely ‘wait’ for Christmas to arrive, but to prepare our hearts and shape us for the wonder of what Christmas really means.
Ash talks about the ‘double edge’ of Advent: the time to reflect on the arrival of our Saviour while, at the same time, waiting for his eventual return, ‘…publicly, unmistakeably, in glory and great power.’ Ash says that the more deeply we understand the first advent, the more passionately we will long for his return.
The structure of the daily readings is set out in a very helpful format. Each chapter starts with a number of verses from Luke – Ash works through each chapter in a systematic order. A few pages of devotional thoughts are followed by a well-known carol or hymn. Reading the carols and hymns in this way, following directly on from the devotional pages, brings the old lyrics to life in a refreshing way that somehow makes them seem ‘new’ and even more powerful. Each chapter finishes with a personal ‘journal’ space – room for the reader to record their thoughts. This works equally well for an individual reader, as for a family.
‘Repeat the Sounding Joy’ is a great devotional to use during advent – one which, as Ash hopes, will help us ‘…celebrate his arrival at the first Christmas.’