Literature for Advent

Arthur: Literature for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany

“Many of us, when charting the timeline of our lives, can point to a moment when a story or poem happened.” Sarah Arthur, p. 9, Light Upon Light, Paraclete Press 2014.

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Light upon Light is a literary guide of daily and weekly readings and prayers by well-known authors for the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany compiled by Sarah Arthur. She has also written companion similar guides for the long Pentecost season (At the Still Point) and for Lent and Easter (Between Midnight and Dawn). Arthur emphasizes that this is not only a guide to prayer during a time of year that our lives become much too busy, but this is a literary guide to prayer. As we remember and recall times when poems and scripture and fiction moved us in our daily lives, Arthur believes \that good literature can make a difference in our lives when we most need it on a daily basis. The readings begin with the first Sunday in Advent and ends the week of Ash Wednesday.

Arthur hopes to open up our imagination as she exposes us to brief excerpts or short works of writers well known to us as well as some authors we may not know but should! Arthur warns us that at some of the moments that we will encounter as we read this anthology, there should be an alert: “Warning: Powerful Spiritual Moment Ahead!” Arthur suggests that we read each reading not as something for our English Literature class or for pleasure, but as liturgical pieces for worship and especially prayer.

Each week begins with an outline for the week of an opening prayer, scripture readings, readings from literature, a place of personal prayer and reflection, and a closing prayer to use for that week. Arthur suggests applying the ancient principles of lectio divina or divine reading that we have used reading scripture now when reading the poetry and fiction. We read the passage, meditate on it, pay attention to a word or phrase that connects to us, and finally resting in God’s presence. My experience has been to carry that word or phrase with me during that day or perhaps the whole week. Since this process is no longer being used for scripture she has christened it holy reading or lectio sacra.

I invite you to journey with me with Sarah Arthur during the extraordinary seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany with an extraordinary spiritual practice of daily worship and prayer using well-known literature.