This review is part of a series I’m doing about different Advent/Christmas books and resources. Some are advent activity books/packs to do with children, advent readings or Christmassy books. New signups for my Newsletter will have a chance of winning a wonderful Advent book by author Sarah Tummey.
Contemplating Christmas: An Advent Devotional for Finding Hope in the Dark, is the third Advent devotional book I have shared with you. Each one has been very different, which has been wonderful. This one, Contemplating Christmas, has a totally different feel. It’s to bring hope in the dark. It’s reaching out, especially to those of us for who Christmas is stressful, sad or difficult. Is the Christmas story able to bring hope in those dark times?
Abby Ball, the author, believes so and shares with us in a sensitive and uplifting way how the birth of Jesus can make all the difference. She doesn’t offer glib answers or pile on the guilt by telling you to cheer up. She shows that sorrow can be present and doesn’t have to be avoided, as even the Christmas account has harrowing moments. Infertility, the murder of the little ones in Bethlehem…it’s not glossed over.
Contemplating Christmas is divided up into four sections, Hope, Peace, Joy and Love and the devotionals are based around those themes. The readings are taken from different places, Old as well as New Testament. Abby has grouped the readings well, showing how different passages hang together. She writes in a very personable way, sharing her heart as well as her thoughts with us.
Contemplating Christmas has devotionals of variable lengths, but it never feels too long. Some are shorter, and in a way, they would make beautiful, full-length chapters in a devotional book. There is so much kindness and love coming through each reading, making you want to see more. Each day ends with a question or challenge, based on the reading, like an application. I found that helpful, as it stops you from simply reading the passage, saying, “Oh, that was nice,” and move on with your day. This helps you to stay focused and look at your life and heart.
Contemplating Christmas has a short, meditative prayer, a breath prayer. It has two lines, one to inhale, one to exhale. I suppose it works a little like breathing around the box, if you’re familiar with it, but this has words you can pray. I see it as a helpful tool to remind yourself during the day, whenever you feel overwhelmed; something to bring your focus back on Christ and trust Him with our lives and days.
Contemplating Christmas is such a gentle read and would make a beautiful gift for friends and family who are going through difficult times and might be struggling to find joy this season. I know lots of adoptive families struggle to find hope and peace at this time, as it comes with so many difficult emotions and dysregulation, that it’s easy to wish the whole of November away (Been there, done that, probably will again by the time it’s Boxing Day, haha), rather than revel in the festivities. That in itself brings guilt, as you feel you’re the only one not having a good time. Abby allows for that, and helps to find those moments of hope throughout long, dark days.
Contemplating Christmas is meant to bring hope, as well as the other themes covered in the book. It constantly points back to Jesus’ coming and the reason for Him to come to earth. Contemplating Christmas is such a heartwarming devotional, it’s hard not to read the entire book in one sitting!
Do get some copies, either directly via Abby Ball or any bookshops, and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, to have a chance of winning Sarah Tummey’s book, Christmas: God’s Promise Kept.