I was away last week for continuing education. I gathered with other young preachers to study lectionary texts for the coming year, considering how they might relate to each other and to our communities. We spent hours each day studying texts, and it was a delight to learn along with bright, challenging colleagues. Though our stated purpose was preaching preparation, and we certainly did a lot of that, a side benefit was a rapidly growing reading list, and a chance to reflect on books that have been helpful in my own journey in the last year.
A new buy on my own bookshelf is The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler, the commentary is entirely written by Jewish scholars. The result is a New Testament that helps a Christian reader more completely understand the religious context within which Jesus lived and the New Testament was written.
Another recent addition to my own shelf is this very slim volume, Struggling with Scripture, that wrestles with one of the most difficult contemporary faith questions–what sort of authority does the Bible have in our lives? How do we take it seriously as scripture, and yet wrestle honestly with all of the weird and even deeply disturbing parts? Written for a broad audience, both in and out of the church, in non-technical language, it’s a quick read that provokes thought long after it’s done.
Tribal Church by Carol Howard Merritt has been on my shelf for years, but I was shocked by how often it came up in conversation over the week. If you attend a church, or lead a church, and are concerned about young adults and young families, this book is 100% worth the time. There are practical suggestions, and bigger overarching challenges. And if our experience this week is any measure, you’ll come back to it for years.
The book I’m most excited to read is Resurrection by Rowan Williams. Rave reviews all around for it. It could be a good unorthodox pick for a lenten book–preparing for Easter and all of that. I can’t wait.
This little book of prayers by Walter Breuggemann is simply wonderful and slender but not at all slight. It’s good morning, or bedside, or spare-minutes-while-you-wait-for-dinner-to-finish reading. We prayed out of it several times over the week and every time I was struck anew by how crisp, honest, and holy Brueggemann’s words were.
What have you been reading these days?