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The Living Nativity

Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis

Larry James Peacock • September 2018

BUY Print $12.99

BUY eBook (Available in ePub or Kindle) $9.99

Who came up with the idea of using nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas? Many might be surprised to learn that Francis of Assisi, the well-known thirteenth-century saint, is credited with creating the first nativity scene. The Living Nativity introduces readers to Saint Francis and his joyous reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger and animals.

The Living Nativity explores how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God "who bends low to enter our world and our lives." Prayer poems for each day of the season lead readers to deepen their spiritual journey, and the book provides a guided pattern for individuals and small groups to share reflections and experience activities that open their hearts to the Christ child.

The Living Nativity provides a prayer, meditation, and reflection questions for each day of Advent. The Leader's Guide includes suggestions for worship, discussion questions focused on the readings, and guidance for a mini-retreat on a theme of the week.


Categories: Advent
Reverend Larry J. Peacock is director of the Franciscan Spiritual Center, Milwaukie, Oregon. A trained spiritual director and retreat leader, Larry served for 11 years as executive director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in North Andover, Massachusetts. In addition to being the author of The Living Nativity, Peacock is also the author of Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Sages, Psalms, and Prayer Practices (Second Edition published by Skylight Paths, 2014; First Edition published by Upper Room Books, 2003). A retired United Methodist pastor, Rev. Peacock served churches in Manchester, England; Michigan; and California. Peacock completed The Upper Room Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation and has served on the faculty for Five-Day and Two-Year Academies across the United States. He has a longtime interest in St. Francis of Assisi; in 2014 he went on pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy with Spiritual Directors International, and in 2018 he led a pilgrimage/retreat to Assisi with other staff from the Franciscan Center. Rev. Peacock lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Rev. Anne Broyles, an author of several children’s books and author of an Upper Room book on journaling. They have two adult children, Trinity and Justus, and one delightful grandchild, Lulu.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-1790-5

Kindle ISBN: 978-0-8358-1791-2

EPub ISBN: 978-0-8358-1792-9

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: 20180901

Trim Size: 5.5 in (w) x 8.5 in (h) x 0.239 in (d)

Page Count: 112

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Holidays / Christmas & Advent

BISAC1: REL034020

BISAC2: REL012020

BISAC3: REL012120

Weaving the story of beloved St. Francis of Assisi into a rich tapestry of historic and contemporary Advent traditions from around the world, the author offers daily reflection, ritual, and practical suggestions to accompany our journey from the first week of Advent right through Epiphany. The Living Nativity gives us many reasons and ways to celebrate the season. The author's prayers are characteristically lovely—often poetic—and his wonderful reflection questions by themselves make this book a gem!
—Marjorie J. Thompson Author of Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life

Larry Peacock illuminates the love St. Francis had for the Incarnation. His storied and poetic guide through the journey of Advent glistens with creative images, prayers, activities, and reflections that enrich our preparations for the coming of the Christ child. The book refreshes some of the more imaginative and thoughtful Advent traditions that are often forgotten or overlooked. This is a splendid resource for individuals, families, small groups, and churches.
—Rev. Suzanne Seaton Spiritual Director

In his engaging and prayerful book The Living Nativity, Larry Peacock captures and brings to life St. Francis of Assisi’s understanding of the Incarnation. No other feast was more important to St. Francis than Christmas. Peacock invites his readers not only to ponder the Christmas story but also to find creative, imaginative ways to celebrate this feast that engender hope and joy in the hearts of families and faith communities. By praying with his book during the Advent season, you and your family will be deeply blessed and delighted.
—Sister Mary Jo Chaves, OSF Spiritual Director and Retreat Leader Franciscan Spiritual Center, Milwaukie, OR

Come walk with St. Francis through Advent and Christmas in this lovely devotional resource. With a gentle spirit, insightful presence, and evocative words Larry Peacock uses the life of Francis, especially his creation of a live nativity, as a loom to weave together scripture, worship, memory, tradition, prayer, art activities, and justice work for individuals or groups. It's a rich journey with the little poor man from Assisi; along the way you may meet the saint, and likely the “babe of Bethlehem” himself.
—Steve Garnaas-Holmes Unfolding Light unfoldinglight.net Pastor, St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, Acton, MA

To journey through Advent with St. Francis is an immense gift and something Larry Peacock offers readers through The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis. Peacock invites readers to take deep breaths, to pause, and to learn more fully the centrality of the Incarnation to St. Francis and to all those longing for the embodiment of love in the world. Through scripture, story, activity, and prayer, Peacock helps the Nativity come alive in new ways, drawing readers closer and closer to the simplicity, wisdom, and love of God. For all those who hunger for an Advent full of intention and depth, prayer and reflection, this book is for you.
—Claire K. McKeever-Burgett Associate Director of The Academy for Spiritual Formation The Upper Room

Three of my favorite things —Advent, St. Francis, and the writing of Larry Peacock—have come together for this very special book. The life of St. Francis (the creator of the first living nativity) is an unexpected gift to us in the season of Advent. Larry beautifully weaves together the story of St. Francis, Advent ,and Christmas traditions from Larry’s family and from around the world, helpful questions for pondering, and words to pray or to inspire prayer. In a season of distraction and busyness, Larry offers us space to sit down, breathe, and reconnect with the Holy. I look forward to journeying through Advent with Larry’s book.
—Beth Richardson Director of Prayer and Worship Life, The Upper Room