Mission & Ministry - I WITNESS: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmas

The Bishop's Institute Book of the Month: November

I WITNESS: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmas

Come and See!

A review by Owene Courtney of I WITNESS: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmas(Forward Movement, August 21, 2017)by Kate Moorehead.

C.S.Lewis once said if you can't explain the deepest theological concept or term simply enough so a child can understand it, you don't really understand it yourself. Kate Moorehead's Advent devotionalI Witness: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmaswould please Lewis. It is a refreshing approach to marking the seasons of Advent and Christmas offering short pieces of scripture complemented by meditations on the characters in the scripture stories topped off with suggestions for prayer and self study based on our own lives. Simple but profound.

Rather than using deep theological concepts and terms such as Advent and Incarnation, Christology andTheotokos, Moorehead steps inside the stories of the people of Advent and the Incarnation, imagining their intimate thoughts and feelings as they participate in The Great Story of the Nativity of Christ. They become real people with real stories.

A born story-teller, Moorehead describes getting lost inside stories as a child. Having heard her preach many times, I can vouch for the quality and efficacy of her stories. They are simple, clear, appropriate and deeply moving. Thus she tells the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the pain and struggle of their barrenness, ending each daily meditation with a thought and question encouraging the reader to find his or her own story in the story of barrenness and prayer. Likewise there is the story of John, and what it must have been like to be John, the one who knew himself to be "unworthy to tie the sandals of the one who is to come." There's Mary, the God Bearer, often worshiped, but in Moorehead's daily meditations, a very young woman filled with many emotions including being troubled and confused. "Mary was complicated. How does that make you feel?" Moorehead asks at the end of one devotion.

And so the daily devotions continue, with Joseph and his shame, the angels, the shepherds, giving birth in a cave and the wise men. Finally, the devotional marks the 12 Days of Christmas with excerpts from scripture about the days after the birth of such a great and wondrous Event…the birth, the baby, the crying, the violence, and finally the flight to Egypt. 

In conclusion, Moorehead confesses that she loves to read the same story over and over, because "the more familiar the story, the deeper I can move into the plot, the safer I feel to explore the details."  At the end she says, "Keep reading, keep listening, keep learning. The story of Christ's birth can be both familiar and new in each re-telling. Come and see".

Come and see indeed! This treasure of a book will set you on a holy path for Advent and Christmas, it will bring the stories to life in a new and different way, and I am certain, it will weave The Story with your own story in ways you never could imagine!

~Owene Courtney isa book reviewer for the Bishop's Institute of the Diocese of Florida and the Director of the Center for Prayer and Spirituality at St. John's Cathedral, Jacksonville as well. 

N.B.I WITNESS: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmasis available in Florida Diocesan EBA bookstores (Episcopal Booksellers Association). EBA is a national community of 26 independent Episcopal gift and booksellers.

Current EBA stores in our Diocese include St. John's Cathedral Bookstore, St. Mark's, Jacksonville Bookstore and St. John's Bookstore in Tallahassee.