Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 34

34 REVIEWS JESUS: A GOSPEL THE GOOD GOD Henri Nouwen, Edited by Michael O’Laughlin, Orbis Books/Alban Books (2013) Michael Reeves, Paternoster (2012) Henri Nouwen died in 1996, but his legacy continues to grow as new readers discover his simple, profound and raw writing. A Harvard academic who moved to live in a community of those with physical and learning disabilities, L’Arche, his incisive intellect became tempered by a gentle humility and acceptance of the love of God. I was given this book by a close friend and it has proved invaluable. The Trinity is fundamental to our faith; it is something we sometimes attempt to grapple with, but more often than not put to one side as one of those things that we will never really understand. How is it that God is one and yet three? In fact, the subject is so notoriously difficult that when Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury, he insisted that it must be preached upon by the church on Trinity Sunday. Jesus: A Gospel is a selection of extracts taken from 29 of Nouwen’s books and articles. While Nouwen never wrote a book about the life of Jesus, Jesus was central to all of them. Here we have his reflections on Christ gathered together, and organised around scenes from the gospels and general concepts. Each section has a Bible quotation, a reflection and a more general remark, and can be read alone and used as a meditation. The book is beautifully illustrated with Rembrandt’s drawings of the life of Christ. My first response to the concept of this book was cynical: what a clever money-spinner for Nouwen’s estate! But once I began reading, I repented, and felt so grateful to whoever first had the idea. To revisit the accounts of Jesus’ life with Nouwen as a guide has been a transformative experience. Every single page has opened my eyes to new aspects of the Messiah and new challenges to my understanding of what life as his disciple means. If you have yet to explore the spirituality and writings of Henri Nouwen, this would be a wonderful place to begin. If you are a staunch Protestant, you will need to overcome the hurdle of his adoration of Mary; if you can, you will be glad you did. JO SWINNEY LWPT8173 - Preach Magazine - Issue 1 v3.indd 34 The Good God, subtitled Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit, helps us to explore the mystery. Michael Reeves says in his introduction, ‘God is love because God is a Trinity’. Far from regarding the Trinity as a problem, he believes to know the Trinity is to know God; we are not passing into unchartered waters, but rather we are gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. Reeves explains in lucid detail why it is that God is and must be Trinitarian. If God is unchanging, how could he have been loving before creation if he were solitary? To be loving, you must have others to love, others who reciprocate that love. And that is the essence of this book. Reeves continues onwards with the nature of the Father, the Son and the Spirit; what they are and what they each offer to us. I found the argument appealing; I doubt that any of us can truly comprehend the Trinity but this definitely helped me to come closer to understanding and appreciating the nature of God. It is a very readable book, not a ‘heavy’ tome but at the same time profound and enlightening. To know God is to love him; and to know him you must know Father, Son and Spirit. JANE BROOKER 17/10/2014 12:54:04