Q&A with Scott James, author of the Christmas devotional: The Expected One (B&H Publishing)
You are an M.D. by trade, what caused you to take on this writing project?
James: I certainly did not set out to write a book. It actually grew out of our practice of family worship in my own home. My wife and I have 4 young children and we love to gather together regularly to pray, sing, and read Scripture.
When I was preparing for Christmas several years ago, I wanted to show my kids the different ways that the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ. They knew we were celebrating the child in the manger, but I wanted them to see that this child was the culmination of a rescue plan that was planned before the foundation of the world.
So I researched, gathered, and thematically arranged 25 verses (or short passages) to read through with my family leading up to Christmas day. The Scripture readings and ensuing discussions fit right in with our regular practice of family worship.
The kids loved seeing all the different aspects of the person and work of Jesus Christ on display in the Old Testament, and we’ve continued going through the passages every Christmas since.
We started sharing it some in our local church, The Church at Brook Hills, and eventually word got out and my little family project ended up finding a wider audience through publication. I’m still kind of shocked at that, to be honest.
What was your main goal in writing The Expected One?
Rather than having a sort of tunnel vision on the nativity scene, I believe parents and children will better appreciate the birth of Christ if they consider it within the larger context of God’s plan of redemption.
Having spent the month of December walking through a wide range of God’s promises concerning the coming Messiah, my hope is that families will adore that child in the manger all the more.
What has been the response to the book so far?
I’ve been completely floored by the positive responses I’ve received from individuals, families, small groups, and entire church families who have walked through the book. I’ve heard many encouraging testimonies about how God used the Scriptures and themes highlighted in The Expected One to heighten anticipation and worship in the Advent season.
Perhaps the most gratifying thing to hear is that families have made these devotions a part of their yearly tradition—as they get the Christmas decorations out each year, they pull the book out and enjoy it all over again.
Parents have told me (and I’ve seen it in my own home) that as their kids have encountered these Biblical truths year after year, they have gained a deeper understanding of how they all fit together in Christ.
As their yearly tradition grows, their children’s expectancy for Christ has grown with it. I am delighted to hear of children growing in the Lord like this.
What is the best method for families wanting to work through the book and encourage discussion?
I would encourage families to gather together to spend focused time worshiping God in some way. This could be as simple as doing a daily devotional together, but you can also incorporate other aspects such as praying together and singing a favorite praise song, hymn, or Christmas carol.
The Expected One provides 25 simple and accessible (but hopefully profound!) daily devotionals that will take you from December 1st through Christmas Day. On December 25th, the book ends with a special focus celebrating how God has kept all His promises in Christ.
You can use the selected Scriptures, devotional thoughts, and discussion prompts in the book as an easy entry point for your time in the Word, but be sure to let the Spirit lead where He will. Chasing down the tangential questions of a 6-year-old has led to some of the most fruitful discussions we’ve ever had in our house!
What should Christians keep in mind during Christmastime?
As you celebrate Christmas, I would encourage you to let it prepare your heart for the Second Advent. As the anticipation of Christmas Day builds throughout the season, it should remind us that we’re not merely concerned with redemptive history; we also eagerly await a redemptive future.
When viewed within the larger scope of God’s redemptive promises, the nativity story should lead us to a greater yearning for Christ’s return and the final consummation of our own salvation.
SCOTT JAMES (@scott_h_james) serves as an Elder at The Church at Brook Hills. He and his wife Jaime have four children. They live in Birmingham, Alabama where Scott works as a pediatric physician.