Lent begins this week, a time to think about who we are as disciples of Christ, what it means to follow, and how do we better understand this relationship we have. Reading is one way to think about these things, so here are a few suggestions. These are all books available online, some in book form, some as e books, and some even in your local library.
What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell is an easy to read but deeply thoughtful consideration of who we understand God to be, what God does and how we connect to God. For example, when he talks about what it might actually look like to be surrounded by God, (from chapter 7), he says, [In Jesus we are reminded] that all life matters, all work is holy, all moments are sacred. Or a little later in the same chapter: “Confession is about liberation, freedom, naming the darkness and pain that lies within and, in naming it, robbing it of its power.”
Listening for the Heartbeat of God by J. Philip Newell is subtitled “A Celtic Spirituality”. For anyone interested in this ancient Christian spirituality, this book leads us through topics such as “Listening for the Goodness”, “Listening within Creation”, “Listening with the Imagination”, and others. Each chapter focuses on the work and ideas of a different thinker in that tradition.
Practicing Our Faith edited by Dorothy C. Bass, is a series of essays by various authors on practicing a way of life that embodies and enriches our faith. Some topics are “Hospitality”, “Keeping Sabbath” and “Testimony”. A series of stories, biblical references, quotes, and examples makes this a practical guide for “A Way of Life for a Searching People”.
If you are interested more in the mystical expression of God and our relationship with God, there are a variety of modern translations of the Showings of Julian of Norwich. Julian was a 14th century anchoress (living alone in a cell attached to a church) who wrote The Revelations of Divine Love. One of her most well-known sayings is, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things will be well.” The central message of her Revelations is that God is love and only love. A recent modern translation has been done by Mirabai Starr, The Showings of Julian of Norwich: A New Translation.