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Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,450 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Though Christians the world over make yearly preparations for Lent, there s a conspicuous lack of good books for that other great spiritual season: Advent. All the same, this four-week period leading up to Christmas is making a comeback as growing numbers reject shopping-mall frenzy and examine the deeper meaning of the season.

Ecumenical in scope, these fifty devotions in
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published September 22nd 2014 by Plough Publishing House (first published September 1st 2001)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  1,450 ratings  ·  185 reviews

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This is like a Russell Stover box of Spiritual Christmas chocolates; some, well most were positively delicious! A few were, ‘eh’, but overall, I wouldn’t mind getting this gift every year!

You might expect such a varied collection given the authors and their times—St. John Chrysostom and Sylvia Plath; Thomas Aquinas and Henri Nouwen; C.S. Lewis and Kierkegaard; Romero and Luther, to name but a few; mostly well-knowns, but not all. It was many of my favorite spiritual authors, plus a few I would
I can't remember how many times I've read through this book. Some years I would start and not finish, but this year I stayed the course. The readings vary, ranging from Sylvia Plath's "Black Rook in Rainy Weather" which I have printed out and hanging up in my cubicle at work, to selections from Madeleine L'Engle and Kathleen Norris, who are favorites of mine. CS Lewis is here, along with TS Eliot, Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and many others.

The season of Advent can easily be lost in our t
Karen Floyd
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a book of daily readings from the beginning of Advent through Epiphany, by a wide variety of writers from early Christianity to the present. I'd been wanting to read it for several years and decided this was the year to treat myself to it. I'm glad I did. The writers' backgrounds are many and what they said always gave me something to think about, even when I disagreed. I was particularly pleased that the editors included poems as well as prose - T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Jane Kenyon. On ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Daily readings, beginning November 24 and ending January 7. Not all of them perfectly fit my theology; not all were to my liking; some of them I couldn't really understand. But it's a lovely book to read through, or dip into randomly, during the season. ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Truly, a mixed bag. Some of the selections were excellent, some were just meh, and a few were downright yuck (for some reason the editors decided that including liberation theologians was a good idea). More than a few of the selections were modern (20th century) as well, and I would've preferred a more varied historical selection.

Overall I liked this okay and may even read it again someday, but it wasn't my favorite and I will continue to look for something better.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, nonfiction
I didn't get Watch for the Light until nearly the end of Advent, so I can't give a complete review. What I can tell you this is: this is not your average Advent devotional. Filled with thought provoking essays and beauty like the T.S. Eliot poem "Journey of the Magi" (perhaps the single most beautiful thing I have read so far this year), this book is lovely. Even better than its contents alone, it goes through January 7, epiphany. When December 25 has come and gone and your holiday commitments h ...more
Rachel A.  Dawson
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found out about this book from Emily Freeman's post of advent book suggestions here, and I knew I would love it as soon as I saw it. So many of my favorite writers were included in this book (Lewis, Merton, Dillard, etc.) and it was a thoughtful, intentional, not fluffy daily dose of reading that I really enjoyed throughout advent, Christmas, and even after. This is a GOOD one. Highly recommend. ...more
Jenni Simmons
Aug 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advent
I pick up this collection every year during Advent & Christmas. I don't care for a few of the essays, but I love others. ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This is the first time I've read through a book of daily readings for Advent/Christmas. I love the idea, but I don't like this particular collection as a whole. Some selections were inspiring and well written, but some others had really weird theology. For now I'm going to keep my copy, and if I can't find something better before next Advent I will probably read it again... But I'm glad I didn't pay more than 50¢ for the book. ...more
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a really wonderful Advent book, and I think the first I've read that specifically covers this season. With so many wonderful, poignant, and renowned authors it really helped me to consider Advent in a new way. Advent is not a just a past event but a current reality and a future hope, and it is what brings us light and freedom. This may become a yearly read for me. ...more
Becca Barnett
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Various Authors, Paperback, Orbis Books, 2004

Excellent anthology of readings for Advent through the day after the Epiphany from significant Christian writers from 350 AD (St. John Chrysostom) to 1090 AD (Bernard of Clairveux) to the present ( e.g., Kathleen Norris, Annie Dillard, and Gustavo Gutierrez). Readings are a little longer than books in this genre--up to eight pages or more--so do not leave the readings until Saturday night for a di
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I used this devotional through the Advent and Christmas season (it ends January 7)as a way to focus and ponder some significant christian writers approaches to Advent, Christmas, and the beginning of Epiphany. The collection is marvelous, in part because just when I was delighted to be reading a collection of liberationist texts, I would encounter a piece that really challenged me or was so caught up in doctrine that I had to parse it out, piece by piece, bow to the author, and then find a way t ...more
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
While a few bits of this were uneven, (whether it was pace or content) there was sooooo much good in it, I can overlook that. It was hard to not read it in chunks and to only read a bit every day, which is partially why I'm finished 7 days early. Some of the readings were like 10 pages long, so if you're looking for easy quick devotionals this is not it. Eventually, I'll have to go back through it and maybe get books that contain some of the selections that the publishers choose to put in this c ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it liked it
I chose this as my devotional reading right before Christmas from a bag of books lent to me by a minister at my church.

This is a collection of writings, speeches, conversations, and sermons from saints, ministers, and lay people from a variety of Christian backgrounds. Some of the daily readings really helped me think about Advent or Christmas in a different way that I hadn't considered before. Others seemed to ramble on without much of a point. The readings were not necessarily connected to a p
I have used this devotional book several times since I purchased it. Each time I find new insights, new ways to rejoice in my faith and in G-d's faith in me.

There are writings from all over the Christian map, people I knew and people I met for the first time in this book.

I would recommend this to anyone who is overwhelmed by what our society has done to Advent and Christmas. With this book you can truly prepare for Christ's birth.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: devotional
I've had this book for several years. It has dated entries for every day of Advent, from the earliest possible first day, November 24, through the day after Epiphany, January 7. I have never read more than a handful of readings prior to this year. Beginning on December 2, I've read every one so far, and discovered so many gems, from writers both contemporary and historic. An excellent anthology to dip into, or use as a devotional. ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent selection of poems and prose from various writers throughout the centuries, all centered around the themes of Advent. There are very short and very long passages, ranging from simple to challenging writing, although it would be fair to say all are challenging to the contemplative soul, as one prepares for the celebration of the first Advent. Re-reading now for the third time. I love this book so much.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christmas
I really enjoyed and benefited from this Advent devotional this year. I love the length of it, spanning from November 24th through January 7th (Epiphany). The readings were varied and helped me see the Christmas story and Advent season with new eyes and refreshed me when the commercial side of the season left me feeling sad. The Bonhoeffer, Lewis, and Yancey essays were three standouts that I loved. I will use this devotional again in the future.
Katelyn Collison
Dec 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
I can't even finish this book. It's TERRIBLY dry.
I got it last year from the publisher, but we were so near Christmas that I didn't get a chance to start. However, I was happy to do it this year!
But it's not very good at all. Some of the chapters are interesting, but for the most part - I have no idea what they're talking about. And I don't feel any more enriched or more in communion with God by having read nearly half of it.

I tried. I really did try.
J. Ewbank
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-good-read, religion
This book contains readings from world recognized Christian people who have written thrugh the centuries. Most of them are fairly current but not all of them. what a wonderful selection of readings for Advent and Christmas. I enjoyed them.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms" "Wesley's Wars" and "To Whom It May Concern"
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent addition to your Advent season traditions. It was recommended to me by one of my professors at Wheaton and I have been delighted by time I spent reading this devotional this Christmas. I look forward to sharing its joy and wisdom with friends and family in the years to come.
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
This is a very good collection of readings for Advent. The selections include poetry, sermons, and various essays. A wide range of writers is included, from John Donne to Sylvia Plath. I like the variety in this book, which is what I expected from this excellent publisher.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book of thoughtful Advent and Christmas devotionals authored by a fairly wide range of writers. These devotionals range from 4-10 pages in length. I'll read these again next year. Recommended. ...more
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Twas a good collection to read through Advent and Christmas seasons.
Have it's companion for the Lenten season.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WHAT WHAT WHAT!!!! I am devastated I haven’t had access to this series of essays from my earlier years as a guide through the end of the year. It transformed the way I experienced Christmas this year, gave me a far greater sense of the longing and expectation embedded in the season. I was acquainted with maybe 15% of the authors chosen, so the snippets I encountered of the others (Rahner, Stringfellow, Yoder, Moltnann, etc) have given me excitement on expanding my literary knowledge of other Chr ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to this book because of the impressive collection of included authors. Watch for the Light walks the reader through the season of Advent, with each day’s reading from a different author. Some days include a poem, others a longer essay. Several of the essays were impactful and allowed me to see the story from a new perspective. I will reach for this guide again next year and I am sure that the writings will continue to support a deeper journey through the Advent season.
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was hit and miss for me (note: I didn't read the entire book). While I loved the idea of a spiritual reflection a day from Advent through Epiphany, some of the days were hard to get through, mostly because they were very dense. My mind wasn't in the right place at night before bed for that - not sure if that's a commentary on 2020, trying to read before bed, or me - but after Christmas Day I decided to put it down and move on. ...more
Jeff Miller
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
There was a lot I liked about these daily meditations going across Advent to Easter. Taken from a variety of Protestant and Catholic resources. I especially liked that there were many longer meditations along with some shorter ones. Editorial-wise almost all of the selections were either very good or at least worthwhile. So I can see myself going back to use this again in a few years.
Kelsie Hartley
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are definitely some authors/days that were better written and more enjoyable than others, but I would definitely read it again. It got me ready to really observe Advent and celebrate Christmas. I definitely recommend it for that.
Evan Hoekzema
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Not every reading hit home, but enough of them did that it changed my experience through Advent. The focuses of the authors, their perspectives, and how they approach the Christmas story was incredibly enriching. A great accompaniment to help prepare the heart leading up to Christmas.
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