For every book, there is a story behind the story. Here is the one behind While Bethlehem Sleeps: A Poetic Advent Devotional.
In 1995, my mother asked me to write the poem for her Christmas card. “Christmas Wonder” was that poem, and it remains a personal favorite. Since then, I have written a poem for her card and some for my own. Additional poems from church Advent readings joined the list. The result was nearly a book-length collection.
I needed something to tie the poems together. The most natural way to do this was to use the Advent themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. (I also added a fifth theme of faith as a way to bring in the New Year.)
But, something was still missing. As sometimes happens with writers, a phrase popped into my head. This phrase became the title and starting line for poems based on the biblical characters highlighted in the Christmas story. It also became the title for the book I self-published in 2012: While Bethlehem Sleeps.
Since its publication, my father, Paul L. H. Olson, has been asked to teach Sunday School lessons on the subject of Advent. With my permission, he used my poems as the backbone for the lessons and wove in additional facts and stories about Advent and its themes. He has taught this course twice to-date.
In 2016, we decided it was time to collaborate by bringing my poems and his lessons together into a devotional. Here is the result of that effort.
Our hope is that you will personally apply these lessons during your private devotional time as well as in your family observance of Advent. We desire a greater sense of peace and joy to enter your homes at this time. Above all, we pray love for one another and this cherished season will fill your hearts. May your heart, mind, and spirit awaken as you experience Advent through While Bethlehem Sleeps: A Poetic Advent Devotional.
November 10, 2018