Draw closer to God in Advent

'Advent is turning out the lights before the birthday cake'

So says Amy Scott Robinson. Writer, poet and performance storyteller, she’s the author of BRF’s Advent book for 2019, Image of the Invisible.

'There's something about the now-and-not-yet of Advent – the mystery and expectation – that still leaves space for exploring darkness. The older I get, the more I value the quiet darkness of Advent before the loud, bright celebration of Christmas. Last year I wrote some "Tiny Advent Poems" for social media, and one of them is "Advent is turning out the lights before you bring in the birthday cake". It's necessary hush and darkness and holding your breath. And I love the way that it blends in from all the remembrance of November, gently turning our attention from our loss to God's gift. From mourning into dancing.'

'Advent is necessary hush and darkness and holding your breath'

Seeing the invisible

Amy was inspired to write her Advent book Image of the Invisible at a local writers' group discussion about metaphors in the psalms.

'The word "metaphor" literally means "carry across",' she explains. 'The idea of collecting together scriptural metaphors for God appealed to the poet in me. How does an invisible God carry himself across to us in scripture, and what can we learn about God's character from the images we find there?'

True to her aim, Amy brings familiar images to life in a new way: God the poet, the weaver and the potter; God the gardener, the bridegroom and the midwife; God the bird, the lamb and the green shoot. 'We can get very comfortable with our own ideas of God,' she says, 'so it’s good to be shaken and challenged by the sheer diversity of images that can point to him.'

With Amy’s books, poetry, photos and performances suddenly appearing in a whole range of magazines, journals and broadcasts, how has it felt to send her new book out into the world? 

'Image of the Invisible contains more of myself than anything I've written before, and I was more nervous than I expected to be to let it out! The wonderful thing is that I've had comments from readers saying that the chapters I was most nervous about have been the most helpful to them, so I suppose that old adage about good writing being like opening a vein is true.' She adds that reading a good review and 'seeing that a reader "gets" the book feels magical.'

Amy Scott Robinson

Unexpected encounters with God

In a blog posted on her website on 3 December 2018, Amy wrote:

‘While putting the finishing touches to my own 2019 Advent book, it has been a joy to begin again the daily readings of poetry, elucidated by the thoughts of a great poet. The first few poems in Malcolm Guite’s Waiting on the Word have to do with looking… full of reflected looks, mirrors and eyes. This reminded me of the following poem that I wrote a few years ago.

See
Now we see only
through a prism, and dimly:
one day, face to face.

Prisms fracture light.
One true beam is divided
into slits and stripes

diverse directions
turning and intersecting
broken in spectrum.

In this web of light
image of the hidden God
catch me in your truth.
'

A year on, Amy says, 'My big hope for Image of the Invisible is that it might lead someone, somewhere, into an unexpected encounter with God - into seeing God in a new way or in a place they've never looked for him before. It certainly did that for me several times while writing it, and in fact I think the experience of writing it has subtly altered my way of reading scripture and made me more open to possibilities of God hiding in unexpected images, and wanting to reveal more of himself. I hope it does the same for someone else.'

A journey through scripture for Advent

Image of the Invisible book cover

Image of the Invisible is original and inspiring. Each image is explored imaginatively, in depth and with a firm grounding in scripture.

'Amy takes us on a journey through scripture in which she makes biblical image after image richly available to our imaginations so that we can come closer to God as he comes closer to us in Advent.'
Malcolm Guite, poet and priest

'The daily comments are followed by a question to ponder, a suggestion to consider and a brief closing prayer. At the end of each week are general questions on the theme. The final pages include brief guidelines for five weekly group Bible studies. I found this an exciting book with unexpected links amid the twists and turns in the narrative. Robinson comments, "God does not give us what we’re looking for – he gives us what we need." If you are searching for an Advent book this year, this is what you need!'
Roger Thornington, Church of England Reader

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