I don’t know about you, but for many of us, the week before Easter is a time within time, a holy and meaningful time; I try to spend more time in solitude, the Lenten practices (some of which I do not keep well if at all) of spiritual reading, prayer, fasting, and mid-week church services are intensified. I hope you have a faith community that does a Maundy Thursday service, and that you take in Good Friday services. Experiencing in some way the flow and rhythm of Christ’s final week seems essential to our own being well grounded in the passion of Christ, our servant King.
We have them at 30% off, now, unless we sell out. THIS OFFER EXPIRES MARCH 25, 2016.
We can fill orders promptly and have them to you within a few days.
In our last BookNotes posted a few days ago I announced A.J. Swoboda’s brand new book, The Dusty Ones: Why Wandering Deepens Your Faith, a beautifully-written and provocative study of exile and being in the desert and on the value of “wandering.” In some ways, that new one is a bit connected to this one from last year which also sounds themes of the messiness of life, the difficulties of faith, questions about suffering and doubt and seeking God in the midst of our pain. The brilliance of this Glorious Dark book — it would be fine to read anytime, as the questions are so universal and his Biblical insight so interesting and helpful — is that it gets at these vital, urgent questions by way of a study of the last part of Holy week, what some call the triduum.
On Thursday as they ate the Passover meal with Jesus, the disciples believed that the kingdom was coming and they were on the front end of a revolution. Then came the tragedy of Friday, and the silence of Saturday. THey ran. They doubted. They espaired. From their perspective, all was lost.Yet, within the grave, God’s power was still flowing like a mighty river beneath the ice of winter. And then there was Sunday morning.
The Undoing of Death Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE $15.40
I have a well-used hardback copy of this that I read portions of every Lent, and upon which I meditate every Holy Week. A few pages here mean much to me, and Dr. Rutledge’s use of ancient art to illuminate her collection of Holy Week sermons is remarkable. I very highly recommend this. The Undoing of Death is a very precious book, meaty, thoughtful, eloquent, surprising, important. Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III (a former dean of the Washington National Cathedral) says of this sermon collection,
Here is passionate, unstinting, full-blooded preaching on the deepest mysteries of Christian faith. Fleming Rutledge doesn’t hold back. She brings her formidable intellect and her wide reading to bear on saying what is nearly unsayable: God has overcome the world’s darkness, and what happened on a hill outside of Jerusalem has made all the difference.
You may recall that we got to met Rev. Dr. Rutledge this past fall and have been very, very impressed with her major, magisterial tome The Crucifixion. This smaller paperback is a lovely, thorough, solid rumination on each of Christ’s last words and is both warmly devotional but filled with intellectual substance. As Richard Lischer writes “Fleming Rutledge brings a profound knowledge of the atoning work of Christ to bear on a series of mediations for God’s people. The result is a treasury of wisdom on the cross of Christ. I will continue to read this book.” There is a recommended hymn after each meditation.
Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide compiled by Sarah Arthur (Paraclete Press) $18.99 SALE PRICE $13.29
I gushed over this at the beginning of Lent (as we had her wonderfully literary volume for Advent, Light Upon Light, and the excellent anthology for Ordinary Time called At the Still Point.) In each of these Arthur (a graduate of Wheaton College and Duke Divinity School) collects wonderfully appropriate readings of poetry, short stories, novels, hymns and other literary treasures, compiling them into a prayer book/devotional. It invites us to experience the liturgical seasons in the company of poets and novelists from across the centuries (and across the globe.) Kathleen Norris also gushed: “What a delight, to find so extraordinary a collection!” And the late Phyllis Tickle (herself a poet) declared her literary guides “a thing of beauty!” Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer… is a very handsomely designed paperback, a lovely, lovely book. We think it would make a much-appreciated gift, too — especially for one who may warm to a re-envisioned sort of devotional.
This daily devotional includes stirring reflections for Lent — or anytime – on the lectionary texts for each day from one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars and most important theological writers. This is a great, rather brief overview of the gospel story, walking with Jesus through Luke. N.T. here uses his own translation o
f the Greek New Testament (that is now available in paperback under the title The Kingdom New Testament) which is itself very interesting and at times quite illuminating. He then offers a brief reflection and prayer and (as it says on the back cover) “helping readers ponder how the text is relevant to their own lives today. By the end of the book, readers will have been through the entirety of Luke, along with Psalm readings for each Sunday.” Lent for Everyone: Luke includes seven devotionals for the week following Easter, as well, and they are good. Readers really get a lot of content.
Designed for those who plan worship services, I know some people use this series of books (“Just in Time”) for any time they need litanies or prayers for their small groups or church meeting or even family devotions. Not a few people prefer to read prayers instead of devotionals or Bible reflections and this little paperback includes all manner of prayers (invocations, confessions, assurances of pardon, pastoral prayers, offertory prayers, benedictions and the like) for worship experiences all during Lent and Holy Week. Very useful.
TWO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED CHILDREN’S BOOKS
We are fond of much of the up-beat, contemporary, and theologically sound work of this evangelical publisher from the UK. You may recall that last December we raved about their Christmas book, The Christmas Promise, which emphasized Christ’s Kingship in a way both playful and serious. In an energetic manner similar to that one, this new one tells the story of Easter starting with God’s creation of a good world (the garden is not the Garden of Gethsemane, as you might presume in an Easter book, but the Garden of Eden) proceeding to show God’s rescue plan for creation, as unfolded in the dramatic big story of redemption in the Bible.
We loved this gifted storyteller and Italian illustrator’s beautiful work in Lion Press’s The Story of Christmas and so appreciate how this similarly fine book — with helpful text and beautiful, rich, pictures that evoke a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern feel — walks us through the life of Jesus, leading up to his last week. With dignity and purpose, the book clarifies the Last Supper (with a beautiful scene of the “new commandment”) and the betrayal and arrest, trial and death and resurrection of Jesus.
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