Published by IVP on September 13, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Devotional, Christmas
Preparation for the Christmas season can often feel busy and frantic, but it doesn't have to be this way. What if we stopped and listened to the movement and unfolding of God's plan around us? Making Room in Advent is an invitation away from the chaos and into the space where God is at work.
The unfolding of God's plan often happens in unlikely spaces, both in Scripture and in our own lives. Join Bette Dickinson as she moves through the story of Jesus' birth and the stories of the many people that were part of the journey. Each page is filled with an original painting that will fill you with hope and wonder during the Advent season. The twenty-five devotionals offer spiritual practices, breath prayers, and reflection questions that allow you to truly make room for God's work in your life, your community, and the world.
This unique Advent devotional features Bette Dickinson’s beautiful art and brief daily reflections on the Nativity story from Luke. This first appealed to me because of the beautiful cover design, and every reading begins with art from the same series. The paintings visualize different scenes, experiences, or metaphors from Luke, and the use of color and light particularly appealed to me. Dickinson’s minimalist design is perfect here, since her white, foamy shapes represent spiritual beings in a way that conveys their other-worldliness. I have never seen Nativity paintings like this, and Dickinson also wrote short prompts to accompany them, giving less art-inclined readers a theme or idea to think about as they look at the painting.
Each reading begins with a short passage from Luke, and then Dickinson shares reflections and life applications from the story. After that, she shares short prompts to ponder and pray about. I particularly appreciated what she wrote about dealing with mystery and uncertainty. For example, she points out the contrasts between how Zechariah and Mary responded to Gabriel, showing that even though they asked similar questions, his question came from unbelief while hers flowed from curious wonderment. At the beginning, I was concerned that she was using him as a foil to Mary to make a point about gender, but she wasn’t trying to say that women are inherently more spiritual or better than men. Throughout the book, she highlights how God elevates the socially lowly and makes a point of celebrating women’s faith, but she also writes about the male characters with sensitivity and care.
The art and written reflections in Making Room in Advent: 25 Devotions for a Season of Wonder provide a fresh look at a familiar story. I enjoyed reading this and looking at the artwork, and will definitely return to it in the future. This is a great choice for anyone who is looking for an Advent devotional, and even though Dickinson shares her reflections and suggests applications with the expectation that her readers are Christians, this can also appeal to people who are spiritually seeking or want to understand the narrative from a cultural perspective. Overall, this book is an inviting, unique look at the Nativity story.