With a sigh of relief, I glued the last tiny piece of the decoration into place: a scattering of yellow felt hay secured to the silhouette of a brown felt manger. I’m craft-challenged, no doubt, but the adorable grandboy is two, and he’s quite ready to start making memories of an Advent tree banner with 24 Christ-focused decorations. It’s worth breaking out the craft glue again if it leads to another generation spending some time around the dining room table each day in December to celebrate one aspect of Jesus’ identity, one glorious facet of the miracle of incarnation.
Susan Shipe has opened the Gospel of John and winnowed out thirty-one unique profiles of Jesus that remind me of our family Advent tradition. Of course, even thirty-one days are really not enough to encompass the character of God the Son, but Susan has the heart of a true seeker who understands that theology is not a tool for explaining God, but rather a ladder, leaned up against the great truths of Scripture to give us a place to stand and wonder.
Susan’s re-telling of the Gospel accounts surrounding Jesus’ life and ministry slow down the narrative flow and lend a creative spark to familiar verses. For instance, did you ever notice that the story of the woman who was accused of adultery and about to be executed occurs in the same chapter with these familiar verses:
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
(John 8:32, 36)
Truth walked onto the scene and defended that condemned woman and declared her un-condemned. Truth sent her away free. Opening the pages of her own story, Susan shares that Jesus has walked into her life bringing with Him that same freedom.
Starting with Jesus as the Lamb of God, we learn that in order for us to be saved, Jesus had to be unsafe, offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the world. Thirty-one Days in the Gospel of John profiles Jesus’ perfect life, His crucifixion, and finally the fist-bumping, post-resurrection breakfast party in which the disciples see Jesus as their Master Chef who serves up breakfast by the sea. Even better, they realize that He offers the bread of life which will sustain them for the ministry He has for each one of them.
The challenge for 21st century readers of the Gospels is to see Jesus in the pages and then to know that He is not a two-dimensional Savior, trapped on the page or in the past. He is alive and active in our day, and a commitment to read about him for 31 days is only the beginning. God has given us an eternity of days to savor the beauty of Jesus, to turn the Truth over in our minds, and to let it sink deep into our prone-to-wander hearts.
Susan Shipe has graciously provided a signed copy of 31 Days in the Gospel of John for one Living Our Days reader. To be eligible for the drawing, share your favorite story from the life of Jesus in the comments below (or just say, “Hi!”). All those who comment on this blog post will be placed in a drawing for the book. The giveaway will stay open until Thanksgiving Day and, the name of the winner will be chosen by . . . you guessed it! The adorable grand boy!
Congratulations Ariel of His Grace Goes Deeper! Your book will be in the mail soon.
This book was provided by the author in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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