Getting ready to get ready for Christmas

It’s two months to Christmas and we are more confused than ever. How will we celebrate? How will we grieve? What will it mean?

If you’ve been here for very long, you know that I’ve talked about Advent as a season of preparation before Christmas.

In the Northern Hemisphere where this description of the season developed, it was a way to handle the growing shortness of daylight. Light candles. Gather together. Speak of the first coming of Jesus at Bethlehem and the beginning of hope promised, and the second coming of Jesus at the beginning of hope realized. And then, just after the turn of the calendar, when daylight starts to grow, celebrate the birth. Celebrate it in the context of the bigger story of God’s story for people.

If you are like me, we need some help with our preparation.

I’d like to help you (as I help my own heart) with three different Advent resources, each of which takes about 10 minutes a day.

Saint John of the Mall: Reflections for the Advent Season.

Every day, starting December 1, you can have a conversation with the disciple John about his interaction with Jesus.

Finding Saint John in a shopping mall in the US is a strange one for sure, but what if…..? And why don’t we listen to Scripture instead of just reading it? Jon has taught me to listen to God’s word and I am greatly appreciative to him because it has not just been eye and mind opening but also life changing.” Amazon review

“St John is a regular reading during the Advent season. I love the way Jon brings the story to life in our cultural context. … This could be a useful small group study during Advent.” Amazon review

Giving the Year Meaning: A Healing Journal for Advent.

Every day starting November 28, I’ll invite you to think about a bit of your year and then write a note about that. There’s no secret here. You can read each of the days ahead of time. But it can be clarifying to have a friend invite us to think about losses or gains, about hurts or healings, about helping other people and ourselves. You won’t have to write much, maybe just a word or two. You won’t have to do much, just think about a conversation or two. But you’ll be more prepared for Christmas than usual.

If we ever needed to take a moment before starting another year, this is it. And this little journal is going to be a big help. It’s not just a read and nod thing. It’s a get your pen and make notes workspace. … I’m not a church person, but the Christian parts of this are fine for me. It’s definitely not preachy. If you need some headspace to finish out the year, it’s worth it.” Amazon review of the 2020 edition

“2020 was a tough year and Dr. Jon Swanson’s “Giving a Year Meaning” allowed me to take a daily breath and reflect on everything that has happened: the good and the bad, the people we love and what they have gone through, and thoughts of love and hope for our daily walk with God. Thanks, Jon for giving my Advent structure.” Amazon review of the 202 edition.

And, same as always, six mornings a week, you can read words and occasional prayers here at I may overlap with the other resources a little, but not too much. (You can subscribe so you get it by email.)


I wanted to let you know about these resources so you have enough time to get them ordered. And I’d be grateful if you would share this post with others you know who might need some help getting focused this year.

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