The book group in which I participate has been reading Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas.
Being in "the mood" for Christmas can be challenging. This seems especially true this year when the outward trappings of Christmas are hard to come by. As mija has been urging me to make cookies and candies, my goal has been just making sure we have something to eat for each meal. Even though her zeal for Zhu Zhu Pets has started to fade, her gifts this year will be Zhu Zhu accessories which I purchased on clearance over a year ago. No new purchases can be made.
This book has been a help and blessing this year and I highly recommend it. It has 22 chapters which are each Christmas excerpts from people like Luther, Piper, Spurgeon, Schaeffer, MacArthur, and Whitefield. It starts with the annunciation and goes through the early life of baby Jesus.
Each chapter seems to examine a single facet of the whole gem of Christmas.
Here's a few quotes about Mary and the Annunciation.
This is from Martin Luther:
Quite possibly Mary was doing the housework when the angel Gabriel came to her. Angels to prefer to come to people as they are fulfilling their calling and discharging their office. The angel appeared to the shepherds as they were watching their flocks, to Gideon as he was threshing the grain, to Samson's mother as she sat in the field.
Saint Bernard declared there are three miracles: that God and man should be joined in this child; that a mother should remain a virgin; that Mary should have such faith as to believe that this mystery should be accomplished in her. The last is not the least of the three. The virgin birth mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing at all is that she, rather than some other virgin, had been chosen to be the mother of God.
Or how about this from John Piper:
Mary responds by saying, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (v. 38.) Can you say: "Let the Holy Spirit do with me as he pleases"? Do you trust the Holy Spirit enough to say: "I am your slave; take me; use your omnipotent power to put you where you want me, when you want me there, doing what you want me to do"? Do you know why we can entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit? Because he exists to exalt the glory of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if the heartbeat of your life is the glory of Jesus Christ, the Spirit will empower and help you with all his might.