Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam by James W Moore on Amazon
Finding Bethlehem has an engaging, useful format. You get to look up the scripture snippets for each day's devotions, read the author's ideas that variously are thoughts related to that brief scripture passage, or an anecdote, story or a parable, and then you get to think about questions related to the day's scripture. You probably get that "bedlam" in the title is a generic term that has grown to mean messy, unresolved, sometimes noisy in a visual or auditory sense or physical (messy house, office, kids, road ahead, at least as far as you can discern from here), chaotic, unorganizable. James Moore helps us consider how we might recognize God's being born and staying put on earth with us amidst all that messiness, chaos, and irresolution. In addition to showing the reader some parallel history from the Hebrew Bible, Moore reminds us that famous basic Nativity narrative from Luke's gospel of coming into town to pay taxes along with thousands of other people, trying to find lodging (research has shown us that would not have been a problem at all for Joseph and Mary), needing to get ready to welcome their first born, etc. would be a stellar example of bedlam seeking and needing divine presence. I'm reviewing and blogging this very late Advent, almost Christmas Eve day, but please be assured there's nothing about everything between the covers that needs to be exclusively done during Advent and/or to prepare for the Christmas season.
How literally sensational it is – "sensational" in that we can access God's presence in Jesus with our five physical senses – God coming into our midst in this stable, this manger, this baby, this Jesus born in the little town of house of bread! So much so that God's enfleshment in Jesus is our central proclamation! James Moore explains some of the theology (covenant, sin, love, grace, incarnation, community, savior. redemption) clearly and simply. I believe this book would be accessible to someone with or without a lot of church experience, with or without a formal theological education or scriptural credentials. The author(s) don't talk highfalutin language; they don't talk down to the reader, either. I'd hazard a guess this could be a good small group resource for people who are newcomers to church or newly re-engaged in church activities.
I appreciate that the paper quality isn't exactly great so I won't hesitate to write on the comment pages, though I haven't done so yet. Like many bible studies from Abingdon, Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam comes in different formats that include a leader's guide, a version for kids, one for teens, and a DVD.
However, the title page tells us this is An Advent Study for Adults by James W. Moore, with "Question, Prayer, and Focus for the Week Devotions by Pamela Dilmore. With so much space for readers to write their own reflections, question, and responses, the book doesn't contain a whole lot of text, but I wonder what percentage Pamela contributed, and I believe front and back covers need to credit her, as well?
my amazon review: enjoyable study for any time of the year