Journey to Bethlehem: A Treasury of Classic Christmas Devotionals – Leland Ryken

Journey to Bethlehem: A Treasury of Classic Christmas Devotionals by Leland Ryken
Also by this author: Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, 40 Favorite Hymns of the Christian Faith: A Closer Look at Their Spiritual and Poetic Meaning, The Heart in Pilgrimage: A Treasury of Classic Devotionals on the Christian Life
Published by Crossway on September 19, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Devotional, Theology, Christmas
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A 30-Day Anthology of Classic Christmas Writings

For centuries, Christians have treasured the same classic hymns and passages at Christmas. While these works have stood the test of time, believers can be tempted to adopt them as commonplace and fail to consider their deeper meaning.

Journey to Bethlehem presents an insightful selection of Christmas classics from the greatest English and American poets to important historical church figures such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Spurgeon. Ideal for reading during the month of December, yet applicable for use year-round, each of the 30 readings consists of a classic work, literary analysis, takeaway summary, and Bible passage.

Literary expert Leland Ryken analyzes each hymn, poem, and prose to approach these classic works in a fresh way. By highlighting how each passage is edifying and stylistically satisfying, readers will experience a new fondness for these classic works as they meditate on the mystery of Christ's incarnation.

30-Day Christmas Anthology: Each daily reading guides readers through the month of December
Features Classic Christian Works: Writings by historical church figures, including Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Spurgeon
Written by Leland Ryken: Literary expert and author or editor of over 60 books including The Soul in Paraphrase and The Heart in Pilgrimage
Offers a Fresh Perspective: Examines classic works from a literary perspective to provide Christians with new insights.

This beautiful book features thirty daily readings of classic hymns, prose writings, and poems about the birth of Christ. Literary expert Leland Ryken chose each of these with an eye to their enduring value, literary quality, and depth of insight into different elements of Christ’s birth. I found these selections inspiring and enriching, and after each one, Ryken shares about two pages of analysis and reflection. He shares the historical context for each work, explains the literary devices that the author used, and reflects on the unique ways that each reading engages with the Nativity and exalts Christ. At the end, he always shares a Bible verse related to that day’s reading.

I have previously enjoyed other treasuries from this author, and I would recommend Journey to Bethlehem to Christians who are looking for an unconventional Advent devotional. Instead of moving through the Christmas story from beginning to end or sharing modern reflections on the Christmas holiday, this book engages with multiple biblical topics and themes, with different selections focusing on varied facets of the incarnation and the many people involved in the Nativity. The selections also remain fresh and interesting, and although I wish that this book involved more global diversity, it reflects a wonderful range of different voices, writing styles, and insights.

Journey to Bethlehem: A Treasury of Classic Christmas Devotionals is a lovely anthology of Christmas readings. I enjoyed the many different selections and Ryken’s guidance in interpreting them, and he enriched my understanding of some familiar hymns, since his literary observations revealed deeper shades of spiritual meaning. I also enjoyed encountering many of the prose writings and poems for the first time. This book is beautifully crafted, with its cloth cover, gold trim, ribbon bookmark, and high-quality cream paper, and it would make a nice gift and a beautiful coffee table book to use throughout the Christmas season. This is a great Advent devotional, especially for people who love literature and writing.