This spring, we are launching a new component in adult formation and ministry – small book groups, led by parishioners. Each group will, over the course of eight weeks (February 15-March 29), discuss one of three books chosen by clergy, meeting weekly at times and locations chosen by each group. Those interested can sign up in the parish hall during Church Family Together on Wednesday evening, or by calling the church.
In April, our clergy will lead conversations on the three study group books. Scroll to end of blog for those dates.
Some parishioners are reporting having difficulty finding the books locally. All are available on Amazon.com and through Barnes & Noble; all except Walter Brueggemann’s book are available on Audible.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brene Brown
The Reverend Hester Mathes:
I chose Daring Greatly because as a fiercely independent individual, I have found Dr. Brown’s message of vulnerability as strength to be immensely helpful in my spiritual formation. Brown encourages us to take risks, to put ourselves out there, to live wholeheartedly, and to dare greatly, while embracing and learning from our mistakes and failures along the way. The paradox of needing courage in order to be vulnerable is one that I have found to be true in my own faith journey, and a paradox that this book has helped me to wrestle with in new ways.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” – Dr. Brene Brown
Walter Brueggemann’s Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks
The Reverend Dr. Randy McCloy:
I chose this book because of the very erudite and thought-provoking way in which Professor Brueggemann compares the tragedy of 9/11 in the United States with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. Drawing especially upon the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Isaiah, he traces the reality, grief, and ultimate hope of the ancient Israelites after their loss, and comments upon the similarity of ways in which America responded to its crisis in 2001. He describes how our country went through a “spiritual free-fall” in its sense of entitlement, privilege, and superiority, and its tendency toward “exceptionalism.” Ultimately, he offers a vision of how we as a church can progress from the reality of tragedy and grief to a significant hope for the future, based upon the old covenantal habits of justice, righteousness, and steadfast love.
Here If You Need Me: A True Story, by Kate Braestrup
The Reverend Sandy Webb:
In a very accessible way, Kate Braestrup offers profound theological reflections on her experience as a mother, minister, and law enforcement chaplain. Her memoir taught me how to look for God in the places he is hardest to find, and how we can make a difference in the lives of others just by showing up. Readers are immediately drawn in by the author’s vulnerability and honesty, allowing us to walk with her on her journey of laughter, tears, and transformation.
In addition, some may be interested in a more in-depth study in discipleship groups, which will be reading Christopher H. Martin’s The Restoration Project. Members of these groups will spend the spring semester studying the work of the Reverend Christopher Martin and his seven disciplines of the Christian life. Members of these groups commit to pursuing these seven disciplines, and to supporting each other as they do so. Discipleship Groups have no fixed ending time, though members may come and go at the end of the semester. Once our Discipleship Groups have finished reading Fr. Martin’s very accessible book, each will decide if it wants to continue meeting, and what it wants to study next.
The Restoration Project: A Benedictine Path to Wisdom, Strength, and Love, by Christopher H. Martin
The Reverend Sandy Webb:
Rules of life are as ancient as the Christian faith, but their standards can often seem unattainable. In The Restoration Project, Christopher Martin addresses that problem, presenting a section of St. Benedict’s famous Rule in a way that makes discipleship seem much more like an invitation than an obligation. In a faithful yet realistic way, Martin places first-century disciplines into their 21st-century context. He invites us simultaneously to deepen our relationships with God and the world, suggesting that neither relationship can happen without the other.
Parish-Wide Discussions of the Books
Sunday, April 12, 9:15 a.m.: The Reverend Hester Mathes will lead a discussion of Daring Greatly
Wednesday, April 15, 6:30 p.m.: The Reverend Sandy Webb will lead a discussion of Here If You Need Me
Sunday, April 19, 9:15 a.m.: The Reverend Dr. Randy McCloy will lead a discussion of Reality, Grief, Hope