God loves women, redeems women, empowers women – then and now. On the day we call Christmas, He could have simply arrived on earth, yet He chose to enter it through a virgin’s womb.
(The Women of Christmas p.122)
Liz Curtis Higgs‘ Christmas devotional journey is subtitled Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary and Anna and it’s an apt description of the book. The thing I love about The Women of Christmas is that, as you read the book, you feel as if you are there, right there at the heart of the story of Christ’s birth, with Elizabeth, Mary and Anna in turn.
Don’t worry, The Women of Christmas isn’t a fictionalised retelling of the story, but more of a verse-by-verse commentary. For example, going to the most famous verse in the story, we discover this…
…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. (Luke 2:7)
Mrs. Higgs reminds us that the Son of God is born, just like that, in one verse. By reminding us of what we don’t know (the details of Mary’s unique childbirth experience and all the details — length, weight, etc. — of every newborn that are recorded today), the author highlights what we do know, that Jesus was born. Mrs. Higgs shares a couple of related, relevant Bible verses and words. Following is one of the several short reflections by contemporary women that are scattered through the book. Last but not least, Mrs. Higgs shines a light on the process of washing and wrapping a newborn in swaddling clothes in biblical times, so you feel that you really know what Mary did in her first moments of motherhood.
And then we’re ready to examine the next verse of the story!
I love how Liz Curtis Higgs examines the verses of the story one-by-one. The pace is slow and unhurried and there’s plenty of time to breathe and ponder while reading. And between each verse, there are phrases and words illuminated by other English translations of the original text, by Bible commentators ancient and modern and by historical and social details. Mrs. Higgs pours her heart into the stories of these women and the pages of this book are dotted with words of encouragement and insight. I close the book feeling as if I know “the women of Christmas” thanks to Mrs. Higgs.
More importantly, however, I close the book feeling as if I know Jesus a little bit better.
Every word of The Women of Christmas points my heart to Christ. And although this is a beautiful and meaningful Christmas devotional, it’s not “just” a Christmas book, but a book that can be read at any time of the year. The cover, certainly, looks “Christmas-y” and every chapter is introduced with a quote from a Christmas carol that anticipates the subject of the chapter and prepares the reader to engage with that topic. If you prefer a simple Christmas with lots of space for the sacred to a “typical” Christmas or if you don’t celebrate the holiday at all, then don’t be discouraged. The Women of Christmas is even (or maybe even especially) for you too!
Just as Mary “committed these things to memory”, we can do the same – not only at Christmastime, but all through the year – thinking about who Jesus is and why He came to earth as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.
(The Women of Christmas p.137)