The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp (Tyndale House, 2013)
What better antidote to the stress and hurry-hurry of December than a few quiet minutes, every day, to re-orient our thinking and ponder the true meaning of Christmas?
The Greatest Gift, subtitled “Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas,” is a collection of Advent devotional readings tracing the promise of a Saviour – “the love story that’s been coming for you since the beginning” (p. x).
Each day’s reading begins with a page of Scripture and a brief look at how this is part of the Advent story and how it’s relevant to us today, whatever our circumstances. It ends with a practical suggestion for applying the day’s thought and with three questions for further exploration.
Ann Voskamp is known for her lyrical prose and for her call to recognize God’s grace – and find gratitude – in both the happy and the difficult days. These daily Advent reflections speak to wherever we may find ourselves, and they offer hope, peace and perspective.
My favourite lines:
The Light never comes how you expect it. It comes as the unlikely and unexpected – straight into Bethlehem unlikely and the feed trough hopeless, and Christmas whispers there is always hope. (p. 139)
The secret of joy is always a matter of focus: a resolute focusing on the Father, not on the fears. All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends. When does He ever end?” (p. 189)
I found these daily moments of reflection helped me to more fully appreciate the days leading up to Christmas. The Greatest Gift is a lovely gift book for yourself or a loved one, and it’s rich enough in content to read again in future years.
The author’s website offers downloadable paper ornaments which readers are encouraged to place daily on a simple “Jesse Tree” (instructions included). This could be a personal or a family act. For those interested in a family Advent devotional, there’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.
Ann Voskamp is the bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts. She blogs daily at A Holy Experience. The Greatest Gift is a 2014 “Christian Retailing’s Best” award winner.
[Review copy from my personal library.]