A Different Kind of Christmas: Devotions for the Season by Mike Slaughter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a devotional style book made up of 30 short chapters in 5 1-week sections. The goal is to read one chapter a day during advent to get a view of what Christmas should be like. Each chapter is ended with a prayer for the day. Our church went through the devotional this advent.
The first weeks theme is “Expect a Miracle”; we can’t do that by experiencing Christmas the way we normally do “When we look at our current understanding of Christmas, we can see that we have mixed together some Santa Claus theology, a few Victorian-era practices of the nineteenth centruy, and little biblical truth to ceate a kind of Christianity that’s more like Frosty the Snowman than the events of the first Christmas Day.” (p15). Slaughter argues that instead we should “start traditions that emphasize one another, rather than the presents we expect to receive and go into debt to purchase.” (p15-16) At its essence, “Preparing for Jesus is a whole lot different from preparing for Christmas.” (p26).
The problem of course is the “challenge to create a clear picture in our minds of what God wants to accomplish through us.”(p 19).
I very much like the sections of the book: Expect a Miracle, Giving Up on Perfect, Scandalous Love, Jesus’ Wish List, and By A Different Road. I agree with his theology and approaches on how to change Christmas, ourselves, and the world.
“Scandalous Love” is the section which resonates with me. “When the King of the universe comes to redeem his creation, he chooses the form of a vulnerable baby born to humble parents. His mother, an unwed teen, calls into question the legitimacy of his birth to a skeptical culture…Wy does God choose such unlikely ways of revealing himself? He does so to make it perfectly clear, through the miracle of Christmas, that he is willing to risk it all in an urgent attempt to save us all, no exceptions.” (p 37).
All in all this devotional was very good. I think Slaughter undercut his message with too much talk, verging on bragging, on how awesome his church has done at serving the world – especially the Sudan. Presenting other people’s and organization’s accomplishments would have done a better job of strengthening the message. In fact I got much more out of our pastors’ messages on the topics.