Thursday, February 11, 2016

A book for forty days of Lent...

The forty days of Lent started on Feb. 10, and if you have not yet found the special book you would like to read during Lent, here's one: Meeting God in Paul, Reflections for the Season of Lent by Rowan Williams and published by It's a small book, just three chapters followed by helpful portions like questions for personal reflection and/or group discussion; a Lenten reading guide with a brief Sunday reflection and prayer; and notes and suggestions for further reading.

These lectures were given by Williams during a Holy Week at Canterbury. For ten years he served as Archbishop of Canterbury, and now is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Williams uses portions of Acts, and New Testament  stories and parts of Paul's letters to help us learn more about Paul's concerns. He thinks that for many "regular churchgoers Paul's time remains a closed book," and many of us are not understanding how important Paul and his ideas were in his day. We may have heard of him, and we may have gathered assumptions about him and his teachings. And perhaps we have thought of him as a trouble-maker, as we remember his history and experiences with the early church.

Paul was a Roman citizen and a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. Williams thinks of Paul as "really interesting and exciting," and he has written this book to "Sketch in a bit of the background" to help today's Christian community understand those early years. So chapter 1 is called Outsiders and insiders: Paul's social world. In this, Williams brings up the question: did Paul write this? or that? and some might say, "it's a forgery." Williams accepts that "most of the literature under Paul's name, actually does originate from him." Sometimes, perhaps with a helper.

Chapter 2 is called The universal welcome: Paul's disturbing idea. Could it be true that God, the Creator, welcomes us to be a part of his people, his community? Why and how could he do that?

And Chapter 3 is called The new creation: Paul's Christian universe. Williams says that because of Jesus' death, we have been welcomed into relationship with God so that we may boldly say "Abba, Father," And we who believe in Jesus Christ must remember that "our hope in Christ is not just a future event. It's a future that has already started." And it grows on into the "depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God."(Rom. 11.33). Enjoy the read.....

---Lois Sibley,