Advent: A Season of Surprises
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For many, the shift from December to January provokes the anticipation of new life rhythms, seeking to begin a new year with a list of new resolutions.
The season of Advent marks the beginning of a new year, according to the Christian calendar. Advent is a season filled with similar expectations, only they aren’t found in new resolutions. They are found through new and surprising realities.
Advent is a season filled with anticipation of what’s coming next. No one could anticipate the surprise that awaited humankind with the birth of Jesus. Two thousand years later, we still look forward in expectation, wondering what lies next.
What’s coming next for you? What’s next in your life beyond the presents, the family gatherings, and the Christmas traditions? What are you anticipating in your life? What are you dreading? These questions fill our hearts and minds during the Advent season.
The studies in this five-week devotional guide are meant to be used by individuals, small groups, or entire congregations. Join author Rev. Scott Chrostek, director of ministries and programs at Church of the Resurrection, as he leads readers through a Season of Surprise.
(Five Advent studies, plus Introduction, plus one bonus study)
1. Week One: Surprise! The Good and Bad News of Christmas
2. Week Two: Singing with Surprising Joy
3. Week Three: Christmas and its Cast of Misfits
4. Week Four: The Surprising Closed Door of Christmas
5. Week Five: Unwanted Journeys: Searching for Something
6. COVID, Christmas, and Life’s Unwanted Journeys
What readers are saying:
Scott Chrostek is a compelling preacher, a thoughtful interpreter of the Christian faith, and an inspiring storyteller. In Advent: A Season of Surprises, he turns his attention to the surprising people involved in the gospel stories surrounding Christmas, and, in the process, he helps us see ourselves in those characters. A Season of Surprises is a meaningful Advent study.
Adam Hamilton, pastor and author of Wrestling with Doubt and Finding Faith
In Advent: A Season of Surprises, Scott Chrostek reminds us Advent isn't just a nostalgic story about the past. It's a glimpse into the future God desires for us. God came into the world so humanity could come into the presence of God. For those who seek God's presence this Advent, I can think of no better place to start than by discovering the reality of the God who comes to us in Christ, calls us to love, and cares for us completely in the pages of Advent: A Season of Surprises.
Wil Cantrell, pastor and author of ATONE and From Heaven to Earth
The weeks before Christmas are filled with decorating, planning for travel or company, thinking about food, making lists, and checking them twice. Traditionally the Church has also intended these to be days of deep reflection. Scott Chrostek is a delightful guide to this season of the year, offering profound meditations on a God who arrives into the world and into our lives in surprising ways. Like composing a good song, Chrostek begins with familiar themes but helps us hear them in new ways. This book is its own sonic journey toward Christmas to be read with joy and anticipation.
Bishop David A. Bard, Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church
As a pre-Christmas study, this book will give each reader (and class member) multiple reasons to feel good. That’s because it is written by a colleague (and a dear friend) who is as warm as he is wise. When you read him, you will like him. Better still, you will find his material as stimulating as it is solid. After all, everybody knows the story, and we all like familiar things. Thankfully, in a world of calendar-shattering change, the Christmas story feels like an oasis of familiarity…until it isn’t. Scott Chrostek has a way of taking you where you never expected to go while teaching you things that no one has helped you to learn. And more than once, you’ll hear yourself saying,” I never saw that coming.” Beginning with Scott’s opening pages, the key word is “surprise.” But as a gnarled and wizened old preacher, I still like surprises. And I join Scott in trusting that you will also.
Rev. Dr. William A. Ritter, Pastor Emeritus at First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Michigan