Friday, April 22, 2016

Comfort for the ill and their caregivers

This is not a new book, but it's a valuable one for those who are ill, and their caregivers. Morehouse Publishing/cpi and Mary C. Earle have given us Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness. The Psalms are left out of the title so I'll tell you that each of the 30 days and an Afterword begin with a quote from one of the Psalms. Earle had long used and learned parts of the Psalms in her own prayers and they are perfect here.

It's a small book, meant to fit in a pocket or purse, consisting of three parts for each of 30-days. Each page is carefully put together with a line or two from a Psalm, a short meditation, and something interesting called "Practices." Yes, she is practical and the parts fit together, encouraging readers to read and use each part, but slowly, thoughtfully, prayerfully. No hurry and plenty of thinking time.

Those who read and respond may be either the one who is ill or the caregiver. Perhaps they will both appreciate the words on certain days, certain pages, and will take turns reading and thinking and talking and  practicing in response. They may not be aware of the power in prayers found in the Psalms. They may not be used to sitting quietly and listening or reading a meditation about the love and wisdom God shares with his people. They may be surprised that a practice is offered as a way of  responding to the Psalm verse and the meditation.

Earle suggests that one practice might be writing down questions asked after becoming ill. Choose a question and write it down with a prayer to God. Leave it with him as you think of what has happened in your illness. Notice feelings, memories, perhaps growth in acceptance. Close and comfort yourself or your caregiver with a "simple prayer of thanksgiving." Or, caregiver may offer a prayer as comfort for one who is ill. Caregivers and patients both, could find Days of Grace helpful.

Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Worship in Sixteenth-Century Geneva

If you love and appreciate church history, this book will keep you interested, perhaps even excited. Author Karin Maag has brought together "primary sources, such as: images, liturgies, sermons, letters, eyewitness accounts of happenings, and Genevan consistory records" from the years 1541--64. Some of these sources are translated into English for the first time.  Called Lifting Hearts to the Lord, Worship with John Calvin in Sixteenth-Century Geneva, it is part of a series called The Church at Worship: Case Studies From Christian History. Published by Eerdmans, several of the books are already in print. There is one on worship where Jesus walked, worship in fourth century Jerusalem; another on sixth century Constantinople; and another on a Black Holiness Church. Editors for the series are Lester Ruth, Carrie Steenwyk, and John Witvliet. The plan is for at least three more in this series. One will be on worship with the Anaheim Vineyard Fellowship, and one on worship with Isaac Watts in Eighteenth-Century London, And one on worship with Argentine Baptists in the Mid-Twentieth Century. So better get ready as it looks like a fascinating, long read.

Karin Maag is director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies  at Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is also professor of history at Calvin College. For this book, Lifting Hearts to the Lord, she uses Geneva, Switzerland as a "case study for investigating the theology and practice of worship in the Reformation era, years 1541--1564." Maag offers both Calvin's contributions to "Reformation worship" and the voices of ordinary Genevans who expressed their feelings "as they navigated, debated, and even fought over the changes in worship" as a result of the Reformation.

The layout is interesting. There are maps and illustrations of people and churches, a helpful timeline, excerpts from Calvin's and others' opinions, sermons, and advice. And on almost every page, in red ink on the side margins there is small print advising readers on the situation, what's happening, what to expect, etc. For anyone interested in this special Reformation time, I count Maag's book a treasure.

Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks