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Posted November 20, 2012

Book: Exploring Advent with Luke: Four Questions for Spiritual Growth
Author: Timothy Clayton
Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2012. pp. 149

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In this fresh, new contemplative Advent companion, Timothy Clayton guides readers into a scriptural exploration of the events leading up to the birth of Christ. He deftly shows how Luke composed this first chapter of his gospel to deepen understanding of the birth of Jesus and how meditation on the questions posed by its main characters can help resolve issues that hinder the joy of Christmas. Designed to be used on a weekly basis through Advent and during the Twelve Days of Christmas, this reflective guide is ideal for individual and small-group use.

An Excerpt from the Book:

As for poetry, Luke uses poetry for the same reasons all poets use poetry: it speaks more deeply than analysis or even narrative is able. It has been noted that Luke's canicles in the birth narrative function the way songs function in a musical; the action pauses as the song leads the audience into deeper reflection, maybe even transporting us through the beauty of the piece. Might that be the reason that perhaps the "Magnificat" (Mary's song, and the second canticle Luke records in his birth narrative) is the single most set-to-music poem of all history?

So questions and poetry are two literary rhetorical tools that Luke uses adroitly, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. But "wait a minute!" we may protest; the gospel story happened once only and is utterly unique, in a way beyond even how every story is unique. So does it work to weave our stories into it? Yes, because Luke had done ths; he has used two literary tools to invite his readers to join in the story in their imagination. He invites us to see the characters as real people and see our similarities with or differences from these people. Then, as our sympathetic imagination has been engaged, we begin more deeply to appropriate God's great act of Gospel (of the good news of his love) to ourselves.

Table of Contents:


First week: Do I dare open myself to God?

Second: Is there room in my life for God?

Third: Does God really want me?

Fourth: Where is God leading me?

Christmas Day: Rejoice in romance

The twelve days of Christmas: Keeping the story alive

Conclusion: Going ahead with courage and in joy