A Book for Lent

I invite you to read a book with me during Lent. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and a gifted theologian and writer, has published a series of talks he gave during Holy Week in 2005. The book, Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief, is a lovely little Lenten companion. Following the outline and some of the statements of the ancient Nicene and Apostles’ Creed, Williams guides the reader through some of the central elements of our faith.

  • What does it mean to believe in God?
  • Can God possibly be almighty in the midst of so much evil and disaster?
  • How am I to understand the meaning of Jesus Christ’s ministry and resurrection?
  • To what purpose is the church called?
  • And what does it really mean to follow Christ in today’s broken world?

Williams addresses these questions in a conversational tone, and his reflections invite further discussion. His goal is to show that each of the basic tenets of Christian faith flows from one fundamental belief: that God is completely worthy of our trust.

The book is conveniently organized in six chapters, and each is approximately thirty pages long – just right for some slow ruminating during Lent!

You can read the entire first chapter here, in case you want to get a taste. Or perhaps a couple of quotes will be enough to make you want to journey through Lent with this book (and a small group of fellow readers):

Only three human individuals are mentioned in the Creed, Jesus, Mary and Pontius Pilate: that is Jesus; the one who says ‘yes’ to him; and the one who says ‘no’ to him. You could say that those three names map out the territory in which we all live. Through our lives, we wing towards one pole or the other, towards a deeper ‘yes’ or towards a deeper ‘no’. And in the middle of it all stands the one who makes sense of it all. Jesus – the one into whose life we must all try to grow, who can work with our ‘yes’ and can even overcome our ‘no’. [p. 76]

A well-functioning Christian community is going to be one in which everyone is working steadily to release the gifts of others. And this is not for the sake of some abstract self-fulfilment: the Christian community is not a place where everyone is crying out, 'Get out of my way so that I can exercise my gift' (though the phenomenon is not unknown...). In the context of the 'Body', the gift of each is inseparable from the need of each. The giver has to understand both how the gift is to be given into the common life, and has to be aware of what the common life and the obstinate reality of others must give for one's own life to be real and solid. [p.108-109]

If you are interested in reading and discussing this book with me during Lent (we'd meet six times between February 6 and March 22), just leave a comment or send me an email. There is no registration deadline, since every participant will be responsible for purchasing (or borrowing) their own copy of the book. From the perspective of the church calendar and my own schedule, it looks like Wednesdays at 7pm might be a good time for this small group to meet.