Lent, a time for new growth, looms ahead of us. For those leading adult Christian formation programs – or those wanting to read and reflect on their own – several new books have just been published, all appropriate for adult formation groups. Here’s what I recommend for Lent 2019 – wherever you are in your spiritual journey, there’s something for everybody:
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered by LisaTerKeurst. Brave and brutally honest, this new book deals with “oh crap” moments from a faith perspective. I’ll give the author a lot of credit for writing this book as she went through both a relationship crisis and a health scare. The theme of the book is how God uses bitter disappointments to re-mold us and turn us into better people, eventually. I found the book tremendously helpful, both in getting through difficult times and in making sense of past disappointments and heartbreaks. Available in Kindle and hardback, currently on sale; DVD and study guide available for small group study.
The Way of Ignatius: A Prayer Journey Through Lent by Gemma Simmonds. This book is more a contemporary examination of Ignatian spirituality than “a prayer journey through Lent,” but it was nonetheless an excellent book. The author gives a nice biography of Ignatius which is highly readable and engaging. The author also profiles Mary Ward, an early English practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, which nicely enhances the book.
Were You There? By Luke A. Powery. A set of Lenten devotionals based on spirituals, this book also includes prayers, scriptures, and the texts of a number of old slave spirituals. If you are familiar with these spirituals, this will be a terrific book of devotionals. This book would be best used in conjunction with recordings or actual singing of the songs discussed in the book.
Thirsty for More by Allison Allen. This book would be most appropriate for new Christians. The concepts are sound. The references to the desert mothers and fathers were quite good.This exploration of “the desert” in Christian theology and life is not a bad way to introduce the topic to most people who go to church. I would recommend it to mom’s groups and other beginner level formation groups, but not to those who have travelled a more difficult spiritual road and need encouragement with more depth.
Coming Soon (Feb. 19)… The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley. The Episcopal Church has recently promoted daily spiritual disciplines through the new initiative, “The Way of Love.” If you’re looking for a supplement or more information on spiritual habits, this is an excellent resource for busy professionals who want to incorporate Christian spiritual practices into their daily lives. Written by a lawyer, this book gives real world tips on how to reign in social media use, block out the constant noise of the media, and keep yourself well-grounded and sane. Highly recommended, available for pre-order.
P.S. Special thanks to NetGalley and all the publishers of these fine books for pre-publication copies of all these books!
Cynthia Coe is the author of Considering Birds & Lilies, a book on practicing spirituality in nature. She was a Justice & Advocacy Fellow of The Episcopal Church in 2014-2016 and now writes full time on her farm in Tennessee.