Portable Advent Readings

O Wisdom
Advent Devotions on the Names of Jesus
Forward Movement. Pp. 128. $7

Review by Emily Hylden

Last year, I made the difficult decision to forgo reordering my favorite planner. The book is an investment, but it was not a financially motivated decision. Its format, though beautiful, is too large and too heavy to be practical for carrying around.

That is not a problem suffered by O Wisdom: Advent Devotions on the Names of Jesus, published by Forward Movement. As I read this guide while traveling, I was especially grateful for its slim, paperback format. I imagine it will be toted without thought or concern in handbags and briefcases for reading in a stolen moment during the holiday season — perhaps instead of staring at a phone screen.

Designed for more than Advent, this volume provides daily meditations from the first Sunday of our liturgical year through the feast of Epiphany, using a combination of readings assigned by weekday and calendar date. It solves the problem of a calendar that blends both fixed and movable feasts, as well as using all seven O Antiphons.

The content varies by image, poetry, and prose, as well as by quality. Some authors in the stable of almost 30 are consistently a pleasure to read, like KariAnn Lessner, while others struggle to produce dependable material.

The chorus urging action and redoubling of outward effort at times drowns out an introspective tone, a curious choice for a piece of devotional work, especially at the Advent season, a trough in the Church year set for quietude and “storing up all these things” in our hearts. The engagement with Scripture also feels skimmed; a verse leads each week, with a Sunday charge by Forward Movement’s executive director, the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, but rarely is God’s Word given more attention throughout the course of the weeks’ offerings.

Read in concert with the Daily Office, to provide a backbone of Scripture and a bastion for reflection, O Wisdom may be an inspiring descant to your holiday season.


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