Here’s the schedule for this month’s book: Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift
December 3rd: have read December 1-3
December 10th: have read December 4-10
December 17th: have read December 11-17
December 24th: have read December 8-24 (maybe the 25th if you just can’t wait!)
True confession. This is the first online book group I’ve lead 🙂 … so I’m not totally sure what I’m doing (unlike the rest of my life. HA) and I want this to go well. My hope is that whether or not you’ve read Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift, this will be a place we can come together and connect on a level that is part cross cultural, part female, and all child of God.
OK, now that we’ve acknowledged my nervousness, let’s bid her adieu and get on with the book.
In the introduction, Ann writes: “This, this, is the love story that’s been coming for you since the beginning. It is possible for you to miss it. To brush past it, to rush through it, to not see how it comes for you up over the edges of everything.”
It is possible to miss Advent even when it comes over the edges of everything. We picked this book so that as a group we could slow down and focus on what’s important over what’s urgent. The urgent is always going to be there, tugging on us, vying for our attention. May this be a year that we don’t miss advent for all the voices and tasks — real and imagined– calling out. (Question for the comments: what helps you to slow down?)
Can I tell you how much I love that Ann didn’t start with the angel visiting Mary? She pulled our eyes off of the Christmas tree and put them on Christ’s family tree (Including four women, oh the horror! In a culture that didn’t count women, Jesus did and does). She took us back to the garden and the prophets that came after, reminding us that hope remains. Those of you who know me pre-Velvet Ashes know my obsession interest with Eden and life before the Fall. Life as we were truly meant to live without all the brokenness, hurt, sin, and distance.
Over and over she pointed to the love that God has for us. “The authority of God made all of creation. But it was the affection of God that made all His children.” You know the difference in your own life, right? Whether with your kids, your students, your colleagues, even yourself. Authority is power, affection speaks of desire and longing to be with. (Question for the comments: where have you seen authority and/or affection?)
I love patterns and hadn’t thought before about the first question of the Old and New Testaments. Thank you Ann for day three. Isn’t it breath taking that “Where are you?” in the cool of the day after a shattered trust turns into “Where is he?” from the magi? To know ourselves, we must know Him. (Question for the comments: where have you seen change in your understanding of yourself as you grow in knowing God?)
If you don’t have the book, at the end of each day, Ann has three questions for reflection/journaling. I’ll share one from each day and you can share in the comments or just chat with Jesus about them:
- In what ways do you feel like a lifeless stump, longing for a tender shoot of hope?
- What in this whole blue marble of God’s world causes you to pause in wonder?
- What places deep within your soul do you long for the Lord to seek out during this season of Advent?
And we only read three days! Get a cup of something warm to drink and let’s talk. What stood out to you? Where have you slowed down today and tuned in?
P.S. If you haven’t been in a book club before, don’t worry if you don’t like the book (or a character or another aspect). Some of the best discussions I’ve been a part of come when there is differing views. So, if you don’t like Ann Voskamp or this book, you’re still in the right place.