My review of “Advent for Everyone: Matthew” by NT Wright.
Goals of the book:
You can never have too many devotionals, right? Lately, it seems like devotionals are becoming really popular. I remember getting almost a half-dozen copies of “My Utmost for His Highest” for my high school graduation. Lately, devotionals like New Morning Mercies, Savor, and Jesus Calling have taken some markets by storm.
N.T. Wright, ever the pastor and scholar, offers plenty of devotionals to meditate on every morning. This volume isn’t even his first Advent devotional, but is his first for Year A, which focuses on the Gospel of Matthew. Whereas some devotionals are designed to be read year round (whether by being dated for specific days of the month or by being un-dated), these are designed to be read during the Advent season.
What does this book offer the church?
Some readers might ask why NT Wright wouldn’t simply create a regular devotional, good for the entire year. It seems very wise to me to offer devotionals with specific focuses on specific seasons and months. While we celebrate God’s goodness every day, the Church’s calendar helps us focus specifically on different stories in the Gospels. In the 2019 Advent season, the Church has the chance to spend 24 days specifically focusing on the coming of Christ, the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes and dreams, and preparing our own hearts for the second Advent of Christ. This book is a good starting point for those who are interested in following the Church calendar but are perhaps unfamiliar with it. The passages are undated (in that they are not 2019 specific, but are dated for Advent season), letting readers become familiar with the calendar on their own time scale. For those who are not following the calendar, I think there’s still value in devotionals like these.
For those who are already familiar with the Church calendar, such as the Anglicans whom NT Wright presides over, this book features a familiar cadence that guides us through the seasons you are already familiar with, featuring new insights and pastoral explanations of different Matthean passages.
The book is also divided into four weeks, each with their own focus. Each focus is a part of the Advent season, so I appreciated seeing each individual week focus on a different element of Advent. We’re so used to steam-rolling through books and theological concepts, we never slow down and appreciate seasons for all they have to offer. This book helps us slow down and focus on the different aspects more heavily.
Week One: A Time to Watch
Week Two: A Time to Repent
Week Three: A Time to Heal
Week Four: A Time to Love
How successful is this book in reaching its goals?
Y’all know that I am a huge fan of Dr. Wright. You might even remember that I dedicated this entire year to reading (or, at least, starting) his entire bibliography. (I am well on my way – look for an update soon!) I was happy to have this book as part of my reviewing process as well as part of the TwentyWrightTeen topics.
NT Wright might be known mostly for his level of scholarship and his output of both scholarly and popular level books. Many readers have been blessed by him in church, lectures, or class settings, but I especially love that he features devotionals as well. This shows that he is not concerned only with scholarly works and debates, but has a heart for the church as well. I also appreciate that, while he is known mostly as a Pauline scholar, I think, he releases devotionals on the Gospels.