My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Bible ends with the words of Christ, "Yes, I am coming soon," and with the ancient prayer of the Church, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (revelation 22:20). The word "Advent" is derived from the word adventus, which means "coming." In Advent we're reminded of how much we need a savior, and we look forward to our Savior's coming in majesty even as we prepare to remember his coming in humility at Bethlehem.Stephen Binz is a passionate advocate of Lectio Divina, the ancient practice of studying and praying using Scripture. The point of lectio divina is to personally encounter God and that is something I can relate to very well since I can't count the number of times I have had "aha!" moments of connection when I'm reading. Now, lectio divina isn't precisely that sort of thing, so it is something that I work at. I want to read too fast, I don't want to stop and reflect, and so forth.
This is where Stephen Binz's books are so valuable. He has a love for this practice which shows in the way they are written. First he takes readers deep into the meaning of Advent with our ancestors in Israel longing for Messiah and early Christians longing for Christ's return, with our own expectant hope of Christ's coming which lends itself to valuing the present, with lighting candles against the darkness, and with the cycles of scripture which give us the great prophets messages of Messiah.
Next, with the Advent background in mind, Binz walks readers through the simple steps of lectio divina: lectio (reading), meditatio (reflection), oratio (praying), contemplatio (resting in God), and operatio (witness in daily life). There is much more to it than this simple list, obviously, and Binz does a wonderful job of taking you through each step.
The treasure for Advent and Christmas, however, are in the specific material Binz has prepared for each Sunday of those seasons. The Lectio does not simply contain the readings for that Sunday but also provides some background material to help readers understand both historical and personal context. Meditatio has some prompting questions to aid reflection on scripture until "they become a mirror in which we see our own reflection." And so forth.
I am especially appreciative that this book has the complete A, B, and C cycle readings thus illuminated. This book becomes a tool that can be used every year. I am really looking forward to going through Advent and Christmas with this book. Highly recommended.