This four-week Advent family devotional by best-selling author Marty Machowski combines devotions on the theme of light and darkness with the story of eleven-year-old Mia and her grandmother as they prepare for Christmas. Grandma loves to share her faith, especially at Christmas time, and although she is blind, she can see the light of Jesus shining bright and helps Mia—and children of all ages—to do the same.
Every year, Mia loves to spend the month of December with Grandma getting ready for Christmas. This year, they read a special devotional, The Light Before Christmas, together. Machowski brings families into their devotional time, sharing the story of Christmas. Through a Bible study of light and darkness, readers will discover how the theme of light weaves its way through the Christmas story and God’s plan of salvation.
The Light Before Christmas contains thirteen devotionals—three for each of the four weeks of Advent and one more for Christmas. Each devotional includes a Scripture for the day, an object lesson, a focus Scripture, a question to discuss as a family, a song to sing together, and a prayer.
Also available is a four-week downloadable curriculum, The Light Before Christmas: An Advent Sunday School Curriculum.
Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over thirty years. He is the author of several family devotionals, curricula (including the Gospel Story for Kids), children’s books, and parenting titles. His latest releases include Darkest Night Brightest Day, Angels on Your Side, and The Light Before Christmas. He and his wife, Lois, have six children and several grandchildren, and reside in West Chester, PA.
Sarah Bland-Halulko lives in Florida with her husband and identical twin daughters. She loves to spend time at the beach and in the kitchen, homeschooling her girls, and tinkering with her flowers, paints and clay. Sarah is the illustrator for A Better December, the Prepare Him Room Advent devotional and curriculum, as well as The Light Before Christmas Advent devotional and curriculum.
“Almost every family I know is looking for fresh help in keeping the focus of Christmas where it belongs—on the birth of Jesus. That's what makes The Light Before Christmas so special. Now parents and churches have a way to team up to recapture the wonder and excitement of the moment when heaven came to earth and Jesus was born.”
Bob Lepine, Pastor, Redeemer Community Church; longtime cohost of FamilyLife Today®; author of Build a Stronger Marriage
“Advent provides a wonderful time for families to gather around God’s Word and to teach children essentials of the faith. I think ‘light’ is one of the key themes running through the promise and coming of Jesus, so I am delighted to see this devotional provide a way for families to explore this rich theme together.”
Ray Van Neste, Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies, School of Theology and Missions, Union University
“Marty Machowski’s devotionals have been a staple in our home for years. Marty’s books are theologically meaty, gospel-centered, focused on getting families into the Bible, and provide helpful discussion questions to generate meaningful conversation. The Light Before Christmas is a valuable tool to help your family focus on what matters most this Christmas season and I highly recommend it!”
Josh Mulvihill, Executive Director, Renewanation; family discipleship author at GospelShapedFamily.com
“Marty Machowski has mastered the art of teaching the vast and wonderful truths of God's Word in a way that connects with the hearts of believers young and old. Use this Advent devotional to prepare you and your family to celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus and marvel at God's grace to us in Christ.”
Colin Smothers, Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; pastor, First Baptist Church of Maize; adjunct professor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“I love how this devotional and curriculum point families to Jesus as the light of the world! They're rich in Scripture, with stories, crafts, carols, and activities to help make concepts more relatable. I'm looking forward to using these resources with my family this Christmas to help re-center us on the real meaning of Christmas. Highly recommend!”
Sarah Reju, Author of Jesus Saves
“My friend Marty Machowski beautifully captures Scripture’s abundant light and darkness motifs in The Light Before Christmas family Advent devotional and its accompanying Sunday school curriculum. As always, Marty’s accessible, winsome style provides parents, caregivers, and kids ministry workers a great resource. It’s a fun, easy-to-use, activity-filled teaching tool that—most importantly—shines a bright light on the incarnated Son of God.”
Joshua Cooley, New York Times bestselling author whose books include the Heroes of the Bible Devotional, Creator, Father, King: A One Year Journey With God, and The One Year Devotions with Jesus
“As a father and pastor, I immediately saw the benefit of these resources for the church and family. So often the statement I hear from parents and teachers is, ‘I just don’t know what to do!’ Marty has spelled out everything in the devotional and curriculum. Best of all, the content, whether the devotions, singing, or activities, are gospel centered. You will be blessed!”
Scott LaPierre, Teaching Pastor; author; speaker
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Are you looking for a new Advent devotional to read with your family this year? Marty Machowki’s The Light Before Christmas is an amazing 4-week advent devotional that our family loves. It weaves a story of Mia and her blind grandmother that will captivate the hearts of your children and open up meaningful conversations with your children. It has a little bit of everything from Scripture, reflections, music, crafts, object lessons, and many activities. It’s a great way for your family to celebrate the birth of Christ together. There is also a curriculum for Sunday Schools that is wonderful! Advent devotionals are a wonderful way to help your family focus on what matters most this Christmas season, and we highly recommend this one! I have received this product from New Growth Press in exchange for my honest and unbiased product review; all opinions are my own.*
The story of Mia and her grandmother starts each week of the devotional with a short piece of the story, just a few pages. It is followed by 3 devotions on the week’s theme: light, darkness, rescue, and come to the light. There is an object lesson for each devotion, a few verses of scripture to read and consider, a “think about it” section, and reminders to sing the hymn of the week and pray. Before the devotions begin, there are instructions for creating your own advent wreath if you choose to follow this tradition. I was drawn to these devotions based on the idea of studying light and the light of God. I do not participate in advent, as many do, but the idea of a study of light was appealing. I honestly struggled with the writing of this and the way the devotions were written. The author took on the metaphor of light and ran with that, rather than the meaning of the scriptures. Many of the scriptures were not in context when used and that lessened what could have been a really strong study. The weekly story between Mia and her grandmother was sweet and I loved the idea explored between being physically blind and spiritually blind. This part of the devotional was good, though very short each week.
The Light Before Christmas is an outstanding advent devotional for the whole family. The devotionals focus on light and the role it has in the Christmas story and ultimately our salvation. Thirteen devotionals are included in the book which allows for three devotionals each week of advent plus a final devotional for Christmas day. Each devotional follows the same format and includes an activity, music, and prayer. Whether your family has participated in family devotionals during advent in the past or this is the first time doing so, The Light Before Christmas is an outstanding resource. While this complimentary book was provided for review by New Growth Press, no other compensation was given. All remarks are my personal and honest opinions.
If you’re looking for a real family (or classroom) Advent adventure, then Marty Machowski’s devotional is for you. The Light Before Christmas includes elements of a typical devotional but is delightfully more engaging. In addition to the expected Scripture verses, commentary, and reflection questions, Machowski weaves a story of Mia and her blind grandmother that unfolds over the four weeks of Advent. The sessions include an opening activity, hymns to sing, and crafts to complete (including instructions). The topic of the devotional is “Light” and is based on Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 9:2. As such, it’s a unique and refreshing focus for a Christmas devotional. Each week includes 3 sessions that include about 3 pages of information and activities. Each includes a Warm Up, Read the Word (a few sentences), Think About It (insight and reflection – a few paragraphs), Talk About It, Sing Together, and Pray. The songs are common hymns, such as O Come O Come Immanuel and The First Noel. The Think About It sections include interesting facts, such as how big the galaxy is and how many stars there are. There is a classroom version available. I didn’t read it, but it’s clear that this devotional would also work great in a classroom setting. New Growth Press doesn’t list an age range in their Amazon listing. I suggest 6+ years old to grasp the concepts, but younger children would certainly benefit along with their older siblings. I read an advance copy of this book with no obligation for a positive review.