Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advent Reading: Love Came Down

I usually try to post something about my Advent reading each year. I love it when people recommend good books for this season! And here we are in the third week already. I'm later than usual, but I thought I'd share what I'm reading this year and post some links to some of my older recommendations.

This year I'm enjoying the meditations in Love Came Down,  a collection of readings compiled by Christopher L. Webber. An Anglican clergy friend recommended this book, which is subtitled "Anglican Readings for Advent and Christmas." It's a good collection, running the gamut of a lot of years (from Hugh Latimer on up to roughly present day) though I keep stumbling over the fact that Lewis isn't in the collection. And while I appreciate that Madeleine L'Engle is, I'm not sure why some other more contemporary Anglicans didn't make the cut.

The compiler has a love for the early and middle years of Anglicanism. So you get Andrewes, Donne, Keble, Pusey, Law, and Taylor, among others. He has a bit of a high church bent (likes Caroline Divines and Oxford Movement)  but does include some "broad church" folks like Maurice and Brooks (and no, he doesn't include Brooks' "O little town of Bethlehem," rather some excerpts from his sermons, surprisingly chew-worthy). He's clearly not fond of evangelicals. So you'll find no Wesleys, either John or Charles -- and how one can include Anglican advent poems and hymnody and not include Charles Wesley, who penned some of the very best, just baffles me. But every collection bears the particular stamp of its collector.

One of the elements that makes this book both rich and challenging is that it really focuses on traditional Advent themes -- namely heaven, hell, the second coming, the "last things." Many Advent books focus almost solely on the first coming of Jesus and forgot some of those other traditional themes. This one delves deep into "last things" for a good bit of the text, then moves into deeper reflection upon the incarnation and nativity especially in the final week of Advent and the Christmas season to follow  (readings begin with November 28 and move up through January 6, Epiphany). 

I'm adding this to my list of previously recommended books for Advent, which include (in no particular order): The Irrational Season, WinterSong, The Vigil, God With Us, and God is in the Manger. I posted here about most of these a few years ago.

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