Sybil MacBeth writes that Advent and Epiphany are the often-neglected parentheses around Christmas. And they deserve more attention and better publicity. This Season of the Nativity sets the stage the liturgical year, our yearlong journey through Scripture and salvation history. Sybil MacBeth’s memoir, front-porch theology, and pages of practices and activities invite individuals and families to enjoy this season in a way that has more peace and more Christ and less chaos and guilt. She offers simple tools for busy people — perhaps to reclaim a joyful and yes, serious nativity season for the first time.
Sybil MacBeth is a dancer, a doodler, and a former community college mathematics professor. Her books include Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, Praying in Color: Kids’ Edition, and Praying in Color—Portable Edition. Learn more about Sybil and her work at prayingincolor.com
"This gorgeous book is going to remain at my reading chair, dog-eared and bookmarked, all through the Yuletide season. It will also be under the tree of just about everyone on my gift list. We will all have more interesting winters, and greater intimacy with Jesus, because of it." —Lauren F. Winner, author of Still and Mudhouse Sabbath
"This beautifully designed book caters to those of us for whom waiting for Christmas is the very best part about the holidays. With activities like Advent calendars, games, doodles, carols, and my personal favorite—"flaunting the color purple"—Sybil MacBeth helps us see the Nativity as an entire season stretching from Advent through Epiphany, each day an opportunity for Technicolor grace."—Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood and Flunking Sainthood Every Day
If you think you’re already familiar with Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, think again! After reading this book, you’ll never see those seasons in the same way. With humor, spiritual wisdom, and innovative activity suggestions, the author makes you open your eyes in wonder."
—Linda Douty, spiritual director and author of 5 books, including Rhythms of Growth: 365 Meditations to Nurture the Soul
"With heart-open honesty, Sybil MacBeth opens the door to a new exploration of the three-part Nativity Season. With personal and family-friendly practices and her appealing approach, Sybil invites both seasoned Christians and curious seekers to prepare in Advent, nestle into Christmas, and wonder anew in Epiphany. Extremist? Not really, but perhaps the leader of a new awakening.
—Connie Denninger is a retreat leader, teacher of prayer and spiritual disciplines, and advocate of the Arts in Christian Practice
Sybil MacBeth’s genius is for getting the grand themes — like prayer and yearning and waiting and birth and joy — into real life. She starts with scripture and tradition and solid theology and ends up right on the kitchen table or living room (where children and adults alike are actually enjoying one another). As an on-the-ground parish priest, I want this book in every home of every parishioner. That’s because I know they want what I want — not to dread the approach of Christmas and feel inadequate in its wake — but to truly experience God’s great activity before, during and after in a way that’s full of pleasure and meaning. This book lines out the very concrete path from the wish to the reality.
—Rev Carleton Bakkum, Episcopal Priest and Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Yorktown, VA. - also an artist
The "Season of the Nativity" by Sybil MacBeth is an invitation into spiritual growth through frameworks and forms — by sharing with the reader some familiar and many new ways to prepare for and celebrate Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Her book is an incarnational feast of ideas — both thoughtful and fun, challenging at times and delightful as well. You will want your own copy as well as several to share with your friends.
—The Reverend Canon Meredith Hunt, Episcopal Priest, Diocese of Western Michigan
The Rev. Dr. John R. Denninger, Bishop/President Southeastern District Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
- As Luther translated Scripture in the language of the people, Sybil Macbeth’s Seasons of the Nativity translates the Church’s ancient Incarnation liturgy into the every day lives of God’s children of every age.
- If you adopt any of Sybil MacBeth’s suggestions for observing the Churchs liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany—watch out! You may find yourself holding the ChristChild in a whole new way—that may change your life and the lives of those around you!
- Whether its Praying in Color or her latest work, Seasons of the Nativity, Sybil MacBeth makes the mysterious things of God (prayer) and the Church (liturgy) accessible to everyone.
- In her book, Seasons of the Nativity, Sybil MacBeth moves liturgy into action as she provides meaning-full ways to anticipate and expect, welcome and receive, enjoy and cherish the gift of Jesus in the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
This fun, colorful little book is designed for those who wish to get more out of the Christmas holiday season. Asserting that most people are so focused on Christmas Day they fail to enjoy the complete season, MacBeth offers prayers, songs, practices and activities to counter the busy-ness of the season. The author begins by explaining the distinctiveness of each part of the season and reviewing past and current holiday practices. Innovative ideas abound; try an Advent exercise which combines voice and body movement to tell the stories of Zechariah and Mary. Other ideas include creating olfactory memories by planting flowers during Advent and watching them grow and praying using a homemade "Twelve days of Christmas" calendar. On Christmas, go to church, light white candles, and bring simple gifts, such as leaves, twigs, and notes, to the manger under the tree to recall Christ’s gift to the world. During Epiphany, hang stars and white lights, learn the Song of Simeon, and read stories of Jesus’ adult life. This little gem of a book is packed with ideas to help you create new traditions and brighten the season. Appropriate for all church libraries.
—Ellen Bosman, Church & Synagogue Library Association