Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lenten Books 2

During his incumbency as Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the many gifts Rowan Williams gave to the Christian community worldwide was a series of Holy Week lectures on different spiritual themes and topics. Some of these lectures have been put into print and published as little Lenten books. The books I have on my shelf are: Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief, The Lion's World: A Journey into the heart of Narnia, Meeting God in Mark: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, and Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer. There is one to come later this year entitled Being Disciples: How to Remain Spiritually Healthy. All of them make wonderful Lenten reading, not difficult to understand but profound and written to engage the reader by offering new perspectives on old topics.

His most recent book, Meeting God in Paul, is devoted to exploring St. Paul's "big idea", that of God's universal welcome. Exploring all of the traditional corpus of Paul's New Testament writings, Williams teases out the implications of God's welcome for the Early Church, for the Empire and for the different social classes. Williams writes that his aim is "that the reader will emerge with a better sense of that 'dangerous newness' - of why Christians believed that the events involving Jesus completely changed the framework within they lived; and then to trace some of the specific ways in which both behaviour and language in the Christian community were being remoulded day by day under the pressure of the way Christians had learned to pray." Williams avers that the same is true for the contemporary church. In prayer, Christians articulate the nature of the faith they confess, and yet frequently one observes that the church is  unaware of the pressure it places on the theological language it employs. The danger is that  much Christian prayer language has withered and died. This book is an attempt to re-introduce the Church to this 'dangerous newness'  of which Paul preaches and in so doing, re-kindle some of the flame which inspired the early church in the contemporary church. This little volume is a unique and beautiful introduction to the thought of the Apostle Paul and as a way into the profound mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Written in language that is easily understood, the book is refreshing in the new glimpses it offers to the old story. It comes with questions for group discussion and a Lenten Reading Guide right through Week 6.

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