Book of the Month: April 2019

Five Events That Made Christianity by John Pritchard

As I write this, I am recovering (I think that’s the word!) from the wonderful, exhausting, challenging experience of sharing a week’s Prayer Space with our church schools. The thing about children is that they’re not afraid to ask the questions that adults usually avoid. Why did Jesus have to die – why couldn’t God think of a better way? Why did Jesus ask his disciples to remember him in bread and wine rather than, say, loaves and fishes? And why? And why? Not to be difficult or to catch out the vicar but because they want to know. They are troubled by the apparent disconnection between Easter and Christmas – so close together in time but so far apart in emotional experience. How, one group asked, did people get from there to here?

As adults, John Pritchard suggests, we tend to evade these sorts of questions. Perhaps we just take the stories for granted and have stopped thinking about them. Perhaps we don’t want to admit to not knowing, or being confused about something everyone else seems to understand. Or perhaps we don’t want to risk rocking the boat we’ve been paddling through the gentle waters of our comfort zone by leaving behind the cute baby in the manger and meeting the controversial, compassionate, uncompromising, life changing man he grew into. It’s one thing to kneel in the manger: quite another to stand at the foot of the cross.

In this book, Pritchard takes us on a journey through time and space as, having placed Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost in their geographical context within the Holy Land, he reflects on what happened, what it meant, what it means (or perhaps ought to mean) for us now and how the pieces fit together to “reveal the Real within the real” – the love which lies at the heart of the relationship between God and humankind.

As always, the writing is wonderfully accessible and Pritchard is generous in pointing the way to other authors with other ideas. You could do worse than use the end notes as a reading list. And this is definitely a book to use: my copy is already covered with pencil notes and scribbled comments. Whether you are preparing for confirmation, preparing a sermon or preparing to live one day at a time as a faithful, fallible, disciple, it will be a wonderful addition to your bookshelves.

Reviewed by Revd Norma Fergusson

Five Events That Made Christianity is just £8.50 until 30th April 2019 (RRP £9.99). Available from our online shop + £2.50 postage, or mail order by phoning 01722 326899 or emailing bookshop@sarum.ac.uk.

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