The Wonder of Christmas: 25 Words & Carols to Celebrate Advent

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

If you’re looking for something other than the same-old Advent or Christmas devotional, this is it! The Wonder of Christmas: 25 Words & Carols to Celebrate Advent (Our Daily Bread, 2023) by brothers Ken and Randy Petersen is delightfully different.

They examine 25 words and phrases we throw around during this season and open their meanings in fresh ways. Words discussed include Angel, Gifts, Magi, Star, Joy, Manger, Impossible, Ponder, and Word! It’s a fun, inspirational, and engaging book.

Each concise chapter opens with a verse from the Bible, then moves into a discussion of the word or phrase featured. These discussions include tidbits of biblical facts, history, and insights into the culture of the Bible lands.

For example, in the chapter about shepherds, we learn that “Sheep played a critical role in the economy of ancient Israel. Mutton was kosher, so they provided a good food source.” But there’s more! “Sheep were also important to Israel’s worship, used in temple sacrifices.”

They then offer the suggestion that the first Christmas actually happened in the spring, near Passover, saying, “Passover would be a very appropriate time for the Lamb of God to enter our world.” Thus, the shepherds would have been extra busy with larger flocks.

And what happened to the sheep when the shepherds, following the instructions of the angels, headed into Bethlehem to find the babe? Perhaps they were left untended in the fields. But the Petersens speculate, “The alternative paints a far more interesting picture – shepherds driving their fattened flocks into town with them and paying homage to the newborn king with the sound of baaing behind them.”

Now there’s an intriguing image!

Another word they examine is virgin. On the topic of the virgin birth, they assert that “Both Matthew and Luke make [this] a key element of their narrative stories.” For some, the virgin birth is just too hard to believe. The Peterson’s counter, “But Christianity is built on miracles, which are by definition things that are hard to believe (the Latin mira means “wonder”). The Bible is a record of God doing impossible things. Our very faith in God is based on the idea of the supernatural. Is the virgin birth too much for our God to do?”

Of course not!

Most chapters also include relevant references to Christmas carols, many obscure and forgotten. Each chapter ends with a suggestion on how to prepare for Christmas in light of the shared information as well as a short prayer of a sentence or two.

This little book will challenge your preconceptions about Christmas, point you toward wonderful carols, reignite your holiday imagination, and encourage you to embrace fully the Reason for the season.

The book is available on Amazon, but also directly from Our Daily Bread. The Petersens have also written a companion volume for Easter titled, 40 Days. 40 Words. Easter Readings to Touch Your Heart. Both books would make excellent gifts as well as additions to your personal devotional library.

Buy it here: The Wonder of Christmas: 25 Words and Carols to Celebrate Advent

Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they attend Immanuel Church. His website is He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. He is also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and writes reviews for the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications.

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