A Fresh Look at An Ancient Tradition
I did not grow up in a church tradition which celebrates Advent each year. In the last fifteen years of my life, I've belonged to churches which do celebrate Advent. Recently I learned about a new book from Paul-Gordon Chandler who formerly was the CEO of the International Bible Society. Now Chandler is the Rector of the Church of St. John the Baptist/Maadi in Cairo, Egypt, within the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt & North Africa.
Songs in Waiting provides fresh insight about the significance of the season. In the opening pages of the book, Paul-Gordon writes, "Advent was seen as a time to look both backward and forward: backward, in celebration of the birth of Christ, and forward, with the expectation of God's coming to us anew. Thus Advent is a time to celebrate the past and anticipate the future; "living in Advent" is about being in a state of readiness for the continual coming of God into our lives." (Page 3)
Paul-Gordon Chandler has lived in the Middle East for many years and mixes his stories and experiences with well-written teaching about the historical significance of Advent. Four brief chapters are focused on four ancient Advent songs and combined with beautiful artwork from Daniel Bonnell.Here's a beautiful book which you could read aloud to the family or read yourself each year and find new depth and insight with each reading. As he writes, "As we look at these four ancient Middle Eastern Advent songs, we are reminded that God loves to surprise us when we are most in need of divine help, and that in so doing, provides surprises that are so much more wonderful than we could ever have imagined." (page 15) I highly recommend Songs in Waiting.