This book is intended as a devotional guide for the Advent season. Through the mediums of meditations, poetry, and prayer, it offers a spiritual resource for readers seeking to explore the many dimensions of this beloved season, and to deepen their appreciation of its mystery and wonder. Each day the reader is provided with either a prose meditation, based in Scripture, or a selection of poems, composed around the traditional themes of Advent/Christmas. The overall effect is that of a journey--a journey which moves, devotionally, through the days and weeks of December, toward Bethlehem, the stable, and the manger. Images, incidents, impressions, and items from the daily news are woven together to form a rich and rewarding tapestry, a pathway leading onward, an open door into the quiet places of the soul. Christmas Eve and Day are given special treatment, followed by a final section covering New Year's Day and the twelve days of Christmas. The book also provides a source of creative imagery and language for clergy, and other worship leaders, as they face the challenges of speaking traditional truths in a new and inviting way. Yet another use would be as a small group study guide for Advent.
"We couldn't have a better guide to light the way to Bethlehem than Shepherd. . . . Even if you've made dozens of trips through Advent-Christmas, Barrie will enable you to walk toward the Incarnation again as if for the first time." --Will Willimon, United Methodist Bishop (retired), Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke University "This book is a treasure. . . . Shepherd's poems and meditations will be a valuable resource for preachers searching for creative ways to tell a beloved story everyone knows, and a gift to all of us who look forward to Advent and Christmas every year." --John M. Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, The Christian Century "J. Barrie Shepherd obviously learned long ago to take words seriously. Like all poets, his economy in the use of them reveals his respect for their extraordinary power. As he shows us here they can ever so gently lead us to the Word made flesh. This book will remain as one of my cherished pastoral guides for the annual calling of inviting others to discover the quiet miracles in Advent." --M. Craig Barnes, President, Princeton Theological Seminary "Whether in a sermon, poem, or prayer, Shepherd's rich imagery is arresting. Like the Advent season itself, Shepherd's words wake us up, slow us down, and invite us to anticipate with joy the coming of Emmanuel." --Jill Duffield, Editor of The Presbyterian Outlook "I am so grateful for this Advent book. In these meditations he leads us into the wonder of waiting, which we so often resist, not realizing the riches therein. With engaging narrative and vivid poetry Shepherd evokes essential Advent moments for reflection. Destination Bethlehem promises to open new perspectives on this Christian season for anyone who opens these pages." --Jeannie Crawford-Lee, Editor, Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life
J. Barrie Shepherd, Minister Emeritus of The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, has preached and lectured extensively across the USA and Canada, the UK, Europe, and Africa. He was named William Belden Noble lecturer at Harvard in 1995, and Lyman Beecher lecturer at Yale in 2002. Author of fifteen books, including the recent Between Mirage and Miracle, Shepherd's poetry appears frequently in such magazines as Weavings, Christian Century, and The New Republic.