adventThis Advent collection, you see, isn't quite what you would expect.

The Gospel Of Christmas: Reflections For Advent
Author: Patty Kirk
Publisher InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downer’s Grove, Illinois 60515-1426. Pb, 164 pp. 2012. ISBN 978-0-8308-3785-4  $15.
Advent is celebrated as the time before the birth of Christ. Mary’s visit from the angel, Joseph’s dream, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and Elizabeth and Zacharias’s own adventures---and so a book of Advent reflections would seem just that. However, writer Patty Kirk (“Confessions of an Amateur Believer”) takes the reader on another journey to unknown, and sometimes darker places.
The book is divided into 13 chapters, that contain bits of the Christmas story, observations of life and the author’s personal experiences. One of the warmest chapter is Five, “Stille Nacht,” about the friendship of cousins. Anyone who has grown up with cousins can relate to this and sometimes they are closer than brothers or sisters. Nine, “Troughs,” intertwines the Grimm fable about an old man reluctantly being taken in by his daughter to feeding animals using a trough.
Ten, “Washing Socks,” details the author's years as a teacher in China and learning how to get along with missionaries of religious faiths other than her own, plus learning a new Christmas carol, which was actually an old, old favorite of Australian people in China. Friendship, during a holiday in a foreign country, can be valueless.
However, it is Eleven, “In The Bleak Midwinter,” that the author tells of her assault that happened many years ago. The trauma is there and how she felt for years afterward as being alone, but then realizing Jesus was alone at times, alone, too, and that He is a “…fellow sufferer.”
This Advent collection, you see, isn't quite what you would expect. It goes off the paved road into sand, sometimes, for you to see that beginning the Advent season is a time to look back and see what has been, to looking forward to what will be. As in Twelve, “Seeking God,” from a Lancelot Andrewes sermon to King James in 1622, [The Magi]…was a wearisome, irksome, troublesome, dangers, unreasonable journey…but they came cheerfully and quickly.” Life is a journey and no one ever said it would be easy. It is up to the reader.
Reviewed by Marie Asner
Copyright 2012
A complimentary copy of “The Gospel Of Christmas” was provided by InterVarsity Press.

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