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The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith Kindle Edition
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Of particular importance, I met one individual in the community who, while living in the neighborhood, happened to be homeless. He moved into the Rutba community and now is a member. It is examples of love, reconciliation, justice, and hospitality like this that show how deeply true to the spirit of Christ folks on the Rutba Community are. To see it is to have fresh imagination breathed over you by God.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's newest book The Awakening of Hope is a breath of fresh air along these same lines. He works to answer two questions. First, How is Christian hope born, nurtured and shared? Second, what are the practices that "normal" Christians are engaged in that is changing them into "saints"? He answers this in seven chapters each describing a specific practice:
1. Why we eat together
2. Why we fast
3. Why we make promises
4. Why it matters where we live
5. Why we live together
6. Why we would rather die than kill
7. Why we share the good news
Because The Awakening of Hope is a book about practices, that are sorely needed within the western church, Jonathan isn't hesitant to be theological. But don't let this wary you. His theology is lived out and a flower blossoming from his life in community and close quarters with the people of a struggling neighborhood. He pulls heavily from Biblical narrative to show how practices, such as making promises and dying rather than killing, issue from the heart of God and are important parts of the lives of Biblical saints. He also shows us how Christians today are using these practices and becoming saints one-day-at-a-time because of it. All of it together has left quite an impression on me.
Jonathan definitely breaks new ground in the evangelical world with this book. And as with all of his books he is drawing us closer to a deeply humble, but truly revolutionary faith. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is seriously considering reimagining faith.
The tone of this book, like others he's written, is pastoral and sympathetic, yet challenges us to re-understand the connection between what we say we believe and what we do. Jonathan goes through practices that just don't make sense if the gospel is not true.
I also recommend the video that goes with the book (it doesn't come WITH the book but has to be purchased separately--it's a little confusing, since the study guide is in the back of the book. But it makes sense since you only need 1 DVD for a study group, instead of including a DVD with each book). The videos add another dimension to the discussion in the chapters. Most of the videos don't address the central question of the chapter "head-on" but rather indirectly broaden the discussion.
I've been using it in a study group and it generates fantastic conversation and experimentation. I would recommend, though, taking the chapters/study guide in small chunks--1 chapter/week (if you use the study guide) is a bit much for some of the chapters. The chapters are generally short, but have a lot in them, and then when you add in the video and then discussion, there's a lot of content to sift through.