The Uncluttered Heart offers four weeks of guided reflection through the weeks of Advent on through Epiphany. Each day provides a
- scripture passage
This book includes a study guide for groups.
Beth A. Richardson serves as the Director of Electronic Publishing for Upper Room Ministries. She began The Upper Room’s web ministry in 1996 with the launch of upperroom.org. A native of Oklahoma, she holds a BA from Oklahoma City University and a MDiv from Vanderbilt University School of Divinity. She wrote extensively for Alive Now magazine when she served as its Associate Editor; and she contributed stories to two volumes of The Storyteller’s Companion to the Bible. She is an ordained Deacon in The United Methodist Church.
Not every pilgrimage requires travel. Some pilgrimages, like this one, can be embarked on without going very far from home. Whether a pilgrimage involves walking the Camino, preparing for Advent, or consciously marking off a period of time to make some changes in your life, what every pilgrim knows is that change does not come easily and rarely happens all at once.
We don’t change by suddenly deciding to change. We change in small ways when we daily open ourselves to the possibility that we too could be made anew. With this in mind, we pay attention. We keep our eyes and ears open for direction and our hearts open to the possibility of wonder and miracle. And when things go wrong, as they always do, we rejoice and give thanks anyway. These are what every pilgrim practices and what this book will, step by step, guide you through.
Walking into the Light is a 28-day pilgrimage that takes us through dark times with the promise of light ahead. Each day on this journey, we’ll be on the lookout for ways to better live our lives in ways which might invite the Divine to shine through. We’ll also be listening for calling, staying open to wonder, and experimenting with practices for traveling light and keeping it holy.
Through photos, stories, practices, and suggested readings, you’ll be guided along in a way that sets you free to explore and find your own Way through. Some days it will all come together. Other days it won’t. We expect this. Though we’re headed towards mountaintops, we’re ready for the valleys. Though we long to walk in the light right now, we’re ready for the dark nights we’ll surely encounter.
That’s the pilgrim life. Every day a new beginning. Blessings always and already on the way.
For the most part Christians regard the Old (or First) Testament as pre-history, a preparation for, or a promise of the New Testament and its proclamation of Christ. This is especially true during Advent, when the Christian liturgy directs our attention to the promise and its fulfillment. Yet Advent's status as the beginning of the Church year - as a turning point - calls us to look back in order to move forward. We read intensively from Old Testament prophecy texts with a special view toward their future meaning. Hence, Advent is the time of the year when Christians are reminded that they have one sacred Scripture in two parts, one Bible composed of the Old and New Testaments.
Since it was with the aid of the Old Testament that the early Church interpreted the event at Bethlehem, many of the images and biblical texts associated with Christmas can only be understood by following their Old Testament roots. Like the Magi who followed the star, we can, with Dohmen's help, follow in the liturgy of Advent and Christmas the traces that lead us into the Old Testament. Following those traces, we can arrive at a Christmas that appears to us in a new light, that of the Old Testament.
Chapters are In Search of Traces," "It al Began Before Christmas," "Addressed and Claimed," "A Gift from Heaven," "When Shepherds Become Prophets, "You Shall Make No Crib for Yourself!" "Joseph, What Are You Dreaming?" "A New Age Is Beginning," "In Order That Might Be Fulfilled . . . ," "In Our Midst," "Yad Vashem," "You, Bethlehem . . . ," and "Following the Trace."
Christoph Dohmen is professor of Old Testament Exegesis at the University of Osnabruck."