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The Living Nativity

Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis

by Larry J. Peacock

Prepare your heart to kneel at the manger this Christmas.

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.

Key features include:

      • 4 weeks of 5 daily readings
      • An optional additional week of readings after Christmas
      • A suggested activity for each weekend to reinforce the weekly theme
      • Sundays contain suggestions for families or small groups

$12.99

Bulk Discounts

When purchasing multiple copies of resources for your church school class, study group, committee, or other formative group, you may qualify for a quantity discount. Customers must order directly from the publisher, and the discount applies only to items shipping to one address.

1 – 4 items…………………………….. 0% off
5 – 9 items…………………………….. 5% off
10 – 19 items……………………….. 15% off
20 – 49 items ……………………….. 20% off
50 – 99 items ……………………….. 25% off
100 – 499 items ……………………. 40% off
500 plus items ………………………. 50% off

What is #MyLivingNativity?

Everyone has a favorite nativity set. This Advent, follow along on Instagram and share your favorite nativity scene using #MyLivingNativity for a chance to be featured by Upper Room Books and get a free copy of The Living Nativity by Larry Peacock.

Check out these online courses from The Upper Room:

1.

Leader’s Guide eCourse

This FREE tool is designed for group leaders who will lead weekly gatherings of this Advent offering. You may find it helpful to register if you are leading a Living Nativity book club, Sunday school group, small group, or virtual gathering.

AVAILABLE NOW

2.

Private Classroom

The Living Nativity Private Classroom allows churches and groups to engage in the eCourse with a private and branded platform and receive discounted registration rates. Learn more about the private classroom option by emailing us today at urelearning@upperroom.org with “The Living Nativity Private Classroom” in the subject line.

LEARN MORE

3.

Public eCourse

The Public eCourse will be available starting October 1st as an interactive way to engage with the book and take part in group discussions and activities. Register early to review course contents as you plan for your study. Register today for the public eCourse individual user rate of $19.

REGISTER TODAY
Interact with Advent like never before with The Upper Room Advent Calendar.

This calendar features interactive tools for each day of Advent and includes meditations, family activities, prayers, and more.
Click each block below and nourish your spirit this season by spending daily time in God’s presence.

About the Author

Larry Peacock is director of the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Milwaukie, Oregon. A retired United Methodist pastor, Peacock is also a trained spiritual director and retreat leader. He has served on faculties for both the Five-Day and Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation (sponsored by The Upper Room).

Before moving to Oregon, he served as executive director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in Massachusetts. Peacock was a pastor of churches in Manchester, England; Michigan; and California. He has been on pilgrimage to Assisi twice and visited the cave in Greccio, Italy, where St. Francis held the worship service with the first live nativity scene.

Peacock is married to author Anne Broyles. They have two adult children and one granddaughter.

“This time of year is a journey of heart and hand—feeling and creating, being filled with wonder and awe, enjoying the simple act of decorating a tree or making an Advent wreath.”—Larry Peacock

Click here to read a recent Upper Room blog post by the author

What people are saying about The Living Nativity

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, 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

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

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, chief architect of the Companions in Christ Series

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

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