Bread and Wine

bread and wine

Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. Various authors. Published in 2003. Hardcover, 430 pages.

In addition to some Scriptural passages, I decided this year to add this devotional to my Lenten readings. In many ways, it was a great blessing to me. Many of the writings challenged and stretched my faith in unexpected ways.

Conversely, there were other readings that felt needlessly preachy and even social justice-y, for want of better phrasing at present. One reading which was staunchly anti-gun rendered me particularly confused. Thankfully, the readings of this sort were a minority, but when they came up, it was a distraction which I had to pray to overcome.

If the book was dominated with such writings, I would have abandoned it. However, the reminders of the importance of self-denial, as expressed by the poetic and convicting pens of such writers as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine kept me returning to this book to be challenged further.

Because it is so theologically inclusive, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t well versed in the Scripture with a strong grasp of their Christian faith. There are also times when the new Christian might read and find a bar so high she fears she will never reach it. I welcome the opportunity for honest examination of the motives of my heart, but I am also mature enough to understand that the expressions of faithfulness as described in many of the readings can leave the impression that our efforts must always manifest a perfection of spirit and self-denial (as in denial of our humanity not denial of our will) that is nigh impossible to achieve this side of heaven.

I am grateful for what I read, and look forward to reading many of these writings again, while knowing that many of them are less than stellar.

3 out 5 stars.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Bread and Wine

  1. smkoseki says:

    …the new Christian might read and find a bar so high she fears she will never reach it…I am also mature enough to understand…our efforts must always manifest a perfection of spirit and self-denial (as in denial of our humanity not denial of our will) that is nigh impossible to achieve this side of heaven

    I hear “we can’t reach the bar on earth so sin don’t matter!” trope everywhere these days, especially in my own mind (root of OSAS really). But I never thought of it as spiritual “immaturity”. Yet you are exactly right; what’s worth doing is actually worth doing poorly (Chesterton). I struggle to view all fasting/suffering/works like this, merely as a vehicle to grow out of my immaturity. Humbling.

    Does remind me of Indiana Jones’ interlocutor saying before he & Jones face certain death: “My soul is prepared. How’s yours?” with Jones’ response being to leap for safety. My goal is to be able to say that with full honesty. And any book with both Chesterton & Day should help in this endeavor because it would make my brain shut down with that juxtaposition…

    Like

  2. Elspeth says:

    @smk:

    “I hear “we can’t reach the bar on earth so sin don’t matter!” trope everywhere these days, especially in my own mind (root of OSAS really)

    This is not at all what I mean, for the record. When I get finished with my review of Joshua Gibbs’ book, I ‘ll be able to better explain what I’m getting at (using his words which are far more eloquent than mine).

    Like

  3. bikebubba says:

    I must confess that I have a great degree of amusement at the notion of reading Lenten observations from either Khalil Gibran or Oscar Wilde. I am guessing that the assemblers of the book worked more from famous names in writing than anything having to do with theology.

    To be fair to Wilde, I’ve read The Picture of Dorian Grey, and interspersed with hideous pictures of of homo-eroticism and the opium dens of England is a moral monster convinced of the depths of his sin. So Wilde’s work isn’t entirely preposterous, but rather his life is rather one where you wouldn’t easily infer Lenten observations from him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bikebubba says:

    I’d guess that if I went down the entire list, I’d have a LOT of such thoughts. Gibran’s conduct wasn’t as scandalous as Wilde’s, but let’s just say he earned his cirrhosis, as well as any STDs he had.

    Like

  5. Elspeth says:

    @ bike:

    The first writing in the book is an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. You can find the poem in its entirety here. This is the portion they included in the book:

    And thus we rust Life’s iron chain
    Degraded and alone:
    And some men curse, and some men weep,
    And some men make no moan:
    But God’s eternal Laws are kind
    And break the heart of stone.

    And every human heart that breaks,
    In prison-cell or yard,
    Is as that broken box that gave
    Its treasure to the Lord,
    And filled the unclean leper’s house
    With the scent of costliest nard.

    Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
    And peace of pardon win!
    How else may man make straight his plan
    And cleanse his soul from Sin?
    How else but through a broken heart
    May Lord Christ enter in?

    Quite beautiful really.

    Liked by 2 people

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.