Books for Today – January 2024

Godforsaken: The Cross – The Greatest Hope of All  (Hodder, London. 128pp: £9.99) by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, contains a series of seven reflections on Mark’s account of Jesus on the Cross. This thoughtful book can be used for personal reflection or group study (every chapter ends with a series of questions). It is also a wonderful resource for preachers!

The Soul’s Pilgrimage: Volume 1 From Advent to Pentecost (DLT, London 2023. 253pp: £25 hardback) contains some of the sermons of R.D. Crouse (1930-2011), a learned Canadian Anglican priest who was steeped in the classics and in the early church fathers. Although somewhat dated, these sermons will no doubt appeal to others in the ‘Catholic’ Anglican tradition.

Tarry Awhile: Wisdom from Black Spirituality for People of Faith (SPCK, London 2024. 191pp: £9.99) by Selina Stone, an Anglican minister originally from the Caribbean, is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book for 2024. Justin Welby describes it as ‘Wonderful’. I am not sure I would use that adjective, but it is certainly imaginative. The title is taken from Jesus’ words in Gethsemane: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me” (Matt 26.28). Although there are allusions to Scripture, for the most part the Scripture verses are used as a ‘peg’ on which Selina Stone hangs her ideas. Her main point is that ‘tarrying’ (quiet contemplation) is where Christians find their direction and their strength as they engage in social service and action. The author claims that this ‘tarrying’ is a core of all African spirituality. However, my experience of having lived in the Congo for two years, and over the years having visited much of South Africa as also East and West Africa, is that this is not generally so: I have never met a contemplative African! Nonetheless this is a useful book to read and ponder.

BRF, based in Abingdon,  continue to produce helpful resources for today’s church. Their latest books include Loving My Neighbour: A Lenten Journey (2023. 186pp: £9.99) is edited by Dorothy Warburton and over six weeks looks at Loving in truth; Loving those who are vulnerable; Loving those who are suffering; Loving Oneself; Loving those who are different; and Loving to the end. Also Holding Onto Hope: 40 days of God’s encouragement through art and reflections (2023. 198 pages; £12.99 hardback) by Amy Boucher Pye and Leo Boucher, is a beautiful book which is divided into six sections: All the earth praise God; Sowing, planting, harvesting; God’s promise and invitations; God our help and refuge; God changes his people; and New Life in Christ.

New booklets from of Grove books of Cambridge, currently all at £3.95, include How to Run Music Group Rehearsals (Worship 2023, 27pp)  by Janet Goepel & John Leach, is very practical and deals with such issues as learning new materials, practising for Sunday, and ‘making is special’. Martha, Mary and Lazarus: Resources for a Five-Session Course (Spirituality 2023, 28pp) by Sally Dakin, an Anglican spirituality advisor, argues that in ministry the contrast between Mary and Martha is an ongoing model for ministry which needs to be held in tension. Entrepreneurial Mission in a Church Café: Open Doors, Open Hands, Open Heart (Mission & Evangelism 144, 2024, 28pp), by Madeline Light & Naomi Lawson Jacobs, is a creative exploration of how churches can use their buildings for Christ.

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