Each year, society cycles back around to the all-important date of December 25. This date is bookended by Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, yielding a five to six-week festive holiday period within American culture.
Yet, the historic church has held to a different rhythm, one that begins with the season of Advent and then moves into the twelve days of Christmas. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” It’s a time of preparation and anticipation as we head toward the celebration of Christ’s birth. Some of us have previously walked through the seasons of the church’s calendar, others perhaps not. But it is a story that is deeply enriching.
Reflections of Immanuel invites the reader to wait for Christmas and join the church’s rhythmic story of Advent. As we patiently move through the season, and then onto Christmas itself, this little book offers fresh insights on familiar Scripture passages and themes.
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K. C. Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year
“Advent is the season of the church year in which we wait. We wait for the celebration of Christ’s birth in history, we wait for Christ’s return, and we wait for Christ to come to us right where we are, especially in the midst of the cold and the dark of the winter seasons of our lives. Reflections of Immanuel is a book for all those who wait. Ranging across the whole of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, Scott Lencke invites us to imaginatively enter story after story—from Abraham to Ahaz, from Job to John—in order to remind us that no matter how long and cold the winter, no matter how dark the night, we are not alone. The One for whom we wait is already in our midst: Immanuel. God is with us.”
Armand Léon van Ommen, Lecturer in Practical Theology, University of Aberdeen (Scotland)
“In the midst of the cacophony of Christmas consumerist voices, Scott Lencke helps us to take a step back, breathe, and listen to the deep meaning of Advent and Christmas. With insight and wit, he shows how the well-known stories of the birth of Jesus are rooted in the stories and prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, in ways we might have forgotten or never learned.”
Mike Mercer, author of Walking Home Together: Spiritual Guidance and Practical Advice for the End of Life
“‘Getting ready for Christmas’ is commonly experienced as an uptick in the speed and frenzy of life. We rush, scurry, and get caught up in the ‘mall religion’ around us. With grace and insight, Scott Lencke offers us a well-trodden but forgotten alternative path—the Advent way. Leading us to contemplate markers left by prophets, psalmists, sages, and evangelists along the road, Scott accompanies us on a slow, conversational walk to the manger of Immanuel.”
Tom Fuerst, sacred conversationalist, Bluff City Church, Memphis, Tennessee
“Entering Advent means entering darkness. Not everyone can handle this darkness. Fewer still can sit in it, steep in it, and learn from it. Reflections of Immanuel invites us to dwell in the darkness. With wisdom drawn from pop culture, master storytellers, and theologians, Reflections of Immanuel looks beyond the luminescence of Christmas and invites us to dwell in the dusky world of lament, grief, and the God who promises to come near.”