This year during Lent we are reading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book ‘Living His Story’ written by Hannah Steele.
Here is a short introduction written by Peter Mitchell our Licensed Lay Reader:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, prays that this Lent, within the landscape of the extended wilderness of the Covid-19 Pandemic, God will fill us with the Spirit to give us new ways of telling his wonderful news to new audiences, so that together we might reveal God’s love to others as it has been revealed to us.
In her introduction to this book, Hannah says that, as we spend time in Lent drawing close to Christ through prayer and reflection, we cannot help but encounter his heart for those who do not yet know the good news of the gospel. Lent is the perfect time to begin inclining our hearts and prayers towards those in our community and in our world around us who need to hear the good news of God’s love. Action and words will follow.
Evangelism, the spreading of the gospel, in the UK in the 21st century is challenging; but it doesn’t, and never did, depend on the society and conditions about us but on the internal logic of the gospel itself.
We are fascinated by stories. Every culture has them, passed on from generation to generation. Stories tell us who we are, where we belong and how we relate to the world around us. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the story at the heart of the universe, and yet the Church now finds itself in a culture that has largely forgotten this good news. How can we convey the extraordinary love of God to our neighbours in such a strange post-Christian world?
First, we must recover our confidence. Many people today draw back from even using the word evangelism, assuming it involves imposing a world view on others that they may find quite alien. But, in truth, the gospel is all about drawing people in. It's about inviting others to embrace a joyful reality, and we can do this most effectively by being ourselves and using our natural gifts.
Remember how the joyful Mary, having seen the empty tomb and encountered Jesus in the garden, raced back to the disciples with the simple words, “I have seen the Lord.” The implication being that Jesus is alive, love has conquered sin and death and new life is possible for those who follow him. Our task as witnesses today is to find ordinary ways of revealing this extraordinary news to those whom we encounter in our daily lives.
Hannah helps us to explore this important topic and to discover simple and practical ways of telling the gospel story afresh, which she amply illustrates with scripture passages and contemporary life stories. The book was written during the lockdown of 2020, is grounded in the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic and so is wholly relevant to Christian discipleship today.
Throughout Lent, home groups at All Saints will be studying Hannah’s book, reflecting on it and discussing the points she raises. Whether you are part of one of these groups or whether you are studying the book individually, as a couple, or as a family, the publisher (SPCK) has provided a useful Reading Plan, including a featured passage from the book, study notes and discussion questions for seven sessions, each based on a chapter from Hannah’s book, and a series of short Introductory Videos to each chapter. Just follow the links provided to access these resources. If you haven’t already obtained your own copy of Hannah’s book, it is available from most bookshops and on-line. ISBN 978-0-281-08517-0 (e-book ISBN 978-0-281-08518-7).
Our final words come from the Archbishop of Canterbury; “I hope that in reading this book you are reminded of how important you and your story are to Jesus and his Church and feel empowered to share the good news in your own way and context.”
Peter Mitchell, Reader (Lay Minister) at All Saints, Denmead.
Revd. Emma Racklyeft - Vicar at All Saints, Denmead