It is really easy to forget Advent as a season within the church year, especially if you are an evangelical who does not pay much attention to what time of year church tradition says it is. As I write this review, my email inbox is filling up with ‘Black Friday’ offers, even from Christian organisations, tempting me to buy discounted goods that I did not know I needed until I opened their messages. The pressure to spend, to buy more for oneself and for others is increasingly powerful, and Christians can feel that temptation just as much as anyone else. John Piper’s little Advent book is designed to help us resist. Piper encourages us to seek the fulness of God. Not the fulness of a shopping trolley in a supermarket, or of the checkout box on an internet site, but the fulness of the majesty of Christ, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.
This book is not demanding reading. There are a few brief pages of introduction and then, each day, from 1st to 25th December, there are two or three short pages to read: a verse or two of Scripture and a reflection on the message, with an Advent focus on the fulness of Christ coming to earth.
The readings are all from the New Testament and the focus is mainly on preparing for Christmas. Interestingly the theme of Advent as a time for preparing for Christ’s Second Coming is not developed at any length. A more rounded series of readings would have included this theme and perhaps space for Old Testament passages of repentance and lamentation to speak into the penitent season that Advent is supposed to be.
But that is not to detract from the value of this little book. Christmas is about The Dawning of Indestructible Joy and for Christians wanting to remind themselves of that fact, and resist the temptation to get too carried away with parties, presents and over-indulgence, John Piper has provided a valuable resource.
The book appears below and can be downloaded as a free PDF from John Piper's Desiring God website.
Revd Dr Tom Wilson is vicar of two churches in the centre of Gloucester, a urban and diverse part of an otherwise largely rural county. He is also Diocesan inter-faith advisor and reviews editor for Anvil, an evangelical journal of theology and mission (www.anviljournal.org). He is married with one child and another on the way. In his spare time he likes to read, run or go for a walk in the mountains.