Top Picks for Lent 2021

Added about a year ago by Sacristy Press

Nearly a year into the pandemic, many readers are searching for resources to help them to reflect prayerfully on the current moment and to better express their hopes and fears for the future. We have put together a selection of books for this second locked-down Lent to point you in the right direction.

Here are our top picks for 2021. In no particular order

Light in the Darkness

Exploring the Path of Christian Hope
by Peter Sills

A book exploring the nature of Christian hope for the modern world. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus invites his disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. What does it mean for society and individuals? Peter Sills shows that Christian hope is not merely a hope for the life to come, but also for the life here and now.

A global pandemic and a lockdown radically affecting every aspect of life as we have known it offer considerable challenges to our understanding of the virtue of hope. Peter Sills’ Light in the Darkness: Exploring the Path of Christian Hope could not be more apposite in its exploration of Christian hope as a practice shaping personal and societal living. A demanding yet fulfilling read, it provokes reflection on biblical and liturgical texts and offers powerful perspectives on the “new normal”.

Gemma Simmonds, The Tablet

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Out of the Whirlwind

Innocent Pain as a Challenge to God
by Adrian Roberts and Helen-Ann Hartley (foreword)

A challenging and thoughtful reflection on the question of how a merciful God can allow suffering and evil.

Taking its inspiration from the Book of Job, Out of the Whirlwind reflects on the questions about the existence of a good and powerful God in the light of innocent suffering. The reflections range over personal reminiscence, a consideration of some traditional theodicies along with objections to them, and a couple of dream sequences, at the end of which, like Job himself in the biblical tale, the narrator receives God’s answer “out of the whirlwind”.

A personal, honest and thoughtful book that weaves experience and theological reflection into a deeply moving reflection on suffering and hope.

Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds

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Like There's No Tomorrow

Climate Crisis, Eco-Anxiety and God
by Frances Ward

The questions raised by the possibility of climate catastrophe and an uninhabitable earth are enormous, and Christians often find it difficult to address them. How should we live in the end times? How can we live with hope, even in the face of the inevitability of the radical impact of a climate catastrophe, the collapse of biodiversity and rising sea levels?

Frances Ward reflects on these questions and shows how it might be possible to continue to respond to God in faith, hope and love. Her theological and contemplative reflection enables us to sustain hope that hopes against hope and thus to be able to respond to eco-anxiety. Her deep lament provokes a fierce hope to enable humanity to live life to the full, like there’s no tomorrow.

A heartening read for anyone who cares even slightly about the major moral and ethical conundrums of our day. […]

Frances Ward tackles her subject with a confidence, brevity and wit sorely needed in an epoch which will be defined by its adherence to polarisation, opposition and strife.

Lucy Johnson, Green Christian

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The Divine Heart of Darkness

Finding God in the Shadows
by Catherine Bird​​​​​​

There is a universal assumption that associates darkness with fear and evil. Why is it that light has come to be exalted, venerated—worshipped even—whilst darkness has become demonised and feared? As a devoted lover of the dark, Catherine Bird seeks to ask how we can use the experience of darkness to lift our spirits, challenge our hearts and minds, and draw us closer into the heart of God. 

Demonised and feared, darkness has long been associated with evil and despair, while light has come to be venerated, worshipped even. With her new book, author Catherine Bird seeks to challenge those long held assumptions. … A fascinating read … intelligent and accessible … excellently written and the reader is left both entertained and informed.

Henry Austin, The Independent

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Hope in Dark Places

Poems about Depression and the Christian
by David Grieve

The deeper darkness,
that smear you only just see out of the corner of your mind’s eye as
you contemplate ending it all,
that not-so-much-no-go area
as a darkness-he’s-gone-further-into-than-anyone-else,

is where Christ is.

This book explores the depths of depression through the poetry of David Grieve. You will be moved to tears and laugh unexpectedly. You will feel the raw reality of suffering and feel Christ’s presence in its midst.

In this collection David Grieve bravely offers fresh light on an age-old experience. These moving and perceptive poems will help those both inside and outside the darkness they so eloquently describe.

John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford

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Searching for a Silent God

by Sarah Parkinson and Stewart Henderson (foreword)

A thoughtful and engaging companion for all who experience times of spiritual crisis.

Having come to faith as a young adult, Sarah Parkinson had always had a strong sense of the presence and loving care of God in her life. Following a family bereavement, she found herself searching for a God who no longer seemed to be there. Through prayer, exploration and spiritual direction Sarah found herself growing into a more profound and mature relationship with God.

Courageous writing from the far shore where Sarah Parkinson found that God was “blanking” her. Many of us find ourselves in this kind of struggle with God’s disappearing act. Sarah lets us in on her need to make sense of difficult and complex things, “where doctrine rubbed up against realities”. Here is a person who has been to the “ragged edges” of her faith and has come back with the treasures of darkness.

Sarah has a poet’s way with words that gives texture to experiences which often elude language. She is honest with herself and with us.

The Rt Revd Alison White, Bishop of Hull

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With God We Live Without God

Reflections and prayers inspired by the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
by Martin Lind

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) is one of the most well-known theologians of the twentieth century. 70 years after his death, he is still referred to in public debates. His writings cover a variety of themes and have helped to unite friends of Christ from across the world.

This book contains a series of 30 reflections and prayers that draw inspiration from the theological challenges, thought-provoking statements, and new intellectual constructs that defined Bonhoeffer’s own reflections.

Contains a wealth of distilled Christian wisdom. … This is a book to savour, slowly.

Sheila Maxey, Reform, February 2019

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Following Jesus in the Holy Land

Pathways of Discipleship through Advent and Lent
by Stephen W. Need

A study book for individual and group use during Advent and Lent. It provides ten chapters (four for Advent, six for Lent) that can be used by individuals or church groups for stimulation and discussion on a week-by-week basis.

Each of the ten chapters chooses a location with particular associations from the life of Jesus, so that this book is a kind of “armchair pilgrimage” through the Holy Land. The chapters each cover something of the history of the places concerned before delving into a connected biblical text, and then drawing out key implications and teaching for contemporary faith. The chapters include suggestions for Bible study and worship as well as ideas of how modern-day disciples can respond to what they have learned from their pilgrimage, real or in their imagination.

It is all as if I sat in a boat in the midst of a silent Galilee, each surrounding village heavy with Christ, who comes as close as touch in Need’s astounding book.

The Rt Revd David Wilbourne, Church Times

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The Geese Flew Over My Heart

Poems for Prayer and Reflection
by Lyn McCrave

This deeply personal and at times haunting collection of poems reflects the search for God in the pain and vulnerability of life, in human relationships, in nature and in the challenging aspects of life. The poems are prayerful and although personal, they speak of our common longing for meaning in life, and our desire for union, for relationship.

The poems offer a glimpse of the peace that comes from trust and self abandonment. They speak of compassion and empathy with the suffering of others and also of hope that springs from glimpsing an eternal purpose, life beyond this present moment.

Here is a rich seam of spiritual depth and mystery which reaches beyond the rationalising pragmatism of so much contemporary religious thought.

The Revd Harvey Richardson, The Methodist Recorder

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Can’t decide?

Remember that Sacristy Press offers free economy delivery on any orders of two or more books, so why not choose two or three titles and save one for next year?

Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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