Walking Backwards to Christmas is a wonderful read for Advent. Stephen Cottrell explores the Advent story through the eyes of some well known characters. As the title suggests, the book walks backwards through the story, beginning with Anna’s encounter with Jesus in the temple, and then onwards taking us to meet a grieving mother in Bethlehem, Herod, Wise Man Casper, Shepherd David, Inn keeper Martha, Joseph, Elizabeth, Mary, and finally Isaiah and Moses.
Each story is set in context with an opening extract of scripture and then the first hand account of each story-teller. Stephen Cottrell has an amazing gift for creative writing, his characterisation is detailed and believable; and his writing beautiful and poetic. I was drawn in to each and every story. Some of the characters resonated particularly deeply, and I think that everyone would find their own most significant, poignant story. This time my favourite was Casper (the wise man). His story includes the following quote, which drew me to think deeply about darkness as I began preparing for this Advent, and how we need to seek and even embrace darkness in order to maximise our experience of the light.
‘I have come to this conclusion. The darkness is my friend. For in the night the stars come out to shine and guide.‘
Walking Backwards to Christmas is a wonderful way to step imaginatively into the Advent Story. I so enjoyed savouring the stories one day at a time. And the favourite part for me was then entering the story myself. Throughout the day, amidst chores, work, and family time, I could return to the story, in my mind, and imagine what it would have been like for that character. How did they feel? What happened next? How did this encounter continue to change their life?
If you have a favourite Advent read, whether it’s an old favourite or new discovery please do share with us in the comments. I love finding new books!