The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, 2024 – Tarry Awhile

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, 2024

Tarry Awhile

Author Selina Stone
Publisher SPCK £11.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281090105

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a bold and imaginative choice in selecting this impressive book as his recommended reading for Lent 2024. It has the complex subtitle, ‘Wisdom from Black spirituality for people of faith’, but the main title seems a little old-fashioned until you recognise its source and consider its deep meaning. ‘Tarry’ is a word seldom used nowadays. I liked the dictionary options of ‘sojourn’ or ‘to dwell for a time’; and it comes from Jesus’ words in Gethsemane to his disciples: ‘tarry ye here and watch with me’ (Matthew 26:38 AV).

Dr Selina Stone is a Pentecostalist, an academic theologian and – a sign of the times – an influential ‘podcaster’. She writes beautifully, bringing life and vibrancy to the text and shows clarity and wisdom in her biblical interpretations. The liveliness of her writing contrasts with much of her subject matter, especially the sections on quietness, darkness, and contemplation for spiritual growth. It is these parts of the book which make the title particularly appropriate, for it is through taking time to pause and reflect that we grow closer to God. But I also found charismatic dynamism elsewhere in the book: the section on Spirit, for example. Dr Stone is not afraid to tackle hard contemporary issues. Her section on healing looks at the Aid epidemic in Africa; and her section entitled ‘Movement’, invoking Abraham as a wanderer, has obvious resonances with the worldwide migrant crisis. I loved, too, her wisdom on the theme of oneness and reconciliation, which I read, appropriately, during the week of prayer for Christian Unity. Grief (‘Weeping’) is also addressed, and I marvelled at the beauty and poignancy of the personal account of how the author, grieving for her own mother, was comforted and spiritually strengthened by gazing on a pietà: Mary holding her crucified son.

This book transcends the boundaries of our traditions and is truly for people of all faiths. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Reviewed by KATE BURTON



Holding on to Hope: 40 days of God’s encouragement through art and reflections

Holding on to Hope:
40 days of God’s encouragement
through art and reflections

Author Amy Boucher Pye and Leo Boucher
Publisher BRF £12.99
Format hbk
ISBN 9781800392007

This is a beautiful book in so many ways! The binding is tactile and eye-catching, and the pages are a delight to turn. The small, hardback artistic cover immediately attracts our attention.

For each of forty days we have a painting to absorb, an accompanying reflection and a relevant prayer. There are also questions for further thought, and for possible discussion if the book is used in a group situation.

Six topics are divided mainly on a weekly basis, covering creation, agriculture, God’s promises, his help, how he changes people and brings new life in Christ. All is enveloped in faith, hope, love and joy as we are taken on a journey filled with personal snippets, historic moments, and biblical references.

In a world where so many are weary and burdened, this lovely book brings encouragement for rest and renewal in God’s love and care.

The talents of a father and daughter partnership are richly displayed as Amy Boucher Pye brings imagery through carefully chosen words, and Leo Boucher through his illuminating artwork. The two combine to knit together the concept of a God who reaches out to us and longs for us to reach out to Him in return.

Holding on to Hope seeks to be an inspiration for God’s voice to be heard in a troubled world and to bring a sense of peace and security. Let us pray it does just that, becoming a treasured companion for all who delve into its pages.

Reviewed by BETTY TAYLOR



Loving my Neighbour: A Lenten Journey

Loving my Neighbour: A Lenten Journey

Author Inderjit Bhogal, Joanna Collicutt, David Gregory, Ester Kuku, Sanjee Perera, Gemma Simmonds, John Swinton; and Olivia Warburton (ed.)
Publisher BRF £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781800392151

Of all Christian books, one of the most difficult to write effectively is a Lent book, but this group project is a very helpful guide to the Lenten season and the personal reflection it should invoke.

The book considers the topics of love: loving in truth, loving those who are vulnerable, loving those who are in suffering, loving oneself, loving those who are different, loving the world around us and finally loving to the end. It takes us on one of the most challenging of areas that we can truly love others who are not always lovable. As a collection of daily Bible readings and reflections, it draws upon story and the experience of the writing team to develop its ideas.

Despite having seven writers, it does cohere as a book, so credit goes to Olivia Warburton as the overall editor. It is important that we have little pen portraits of the writers so that we can understand a little of how they came to write and communicate in the way that they did. The use of Bible readings, reflections and prayers are useful. Personally, I would have included some questions which could be used by individuals and for home groups which could have made the text more directly influential on us as readers. The picture of the Palm Sunday entrance is not really a good summary of the wide-ranging nature of the text: if the focus had been more on Holy Week, then this might be appropriate.

This will be a good guide to help you through Lent and could be a good resource for a group during the season.

Reviewed by CAVAN WOOD



Christ and the Chocolaterie: a Lent Course

Christ and the Chocolaterie: a Lent Course

Author Hilary Brand
Publisher DLT £6.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781915412676

When this book appeared in its first edition it was one of the very first Lent courses to be based upon a film. The movie in question is Chocolat, based on the work of British author Joanne Harris. Hilary Brand takes key scenes from the story and then develops links with Bible passages as well as setting questions for reflection that would work well either for special home groups or for individual reflection and study. 

It looks at the following topics – Giving out: the prelude to change; Giving out: The power of a gift; Getting wise: the possibility of change; Getting real: the power of acceptance; and Growing up: the process of change.  The book includes some appendices which look at what the author describes as ‘the curious history of chocolate.’ But it lacks an account of how Quaker Christians were instrumental in the development of the sweet as a means for working people to have a special treat on Sundays, or the link between people like the Fry family with Christians pursuing social justice.

It was a good idea to look at how the chocolate trade has often been right at the centre of the movement for fair trade in the developing world. The author also includes some ideas as to how chocolate can be part of celebration by including some recipes. This is therefore a very diverse book for it includes history, spiritual development, social justice as well as prayers and suggestions for worship.

I must confess that I did not particularly enjoy the original novel or the film, but this is a thoughtful approach to the material which makes me think that I might need to re-engage with the source.

Reviewed by CAVAN WOOD



Journeying with God in the Wilderness

Journeying with God in the Wilderness

Author Mark Broadway
Publisher IVP £11.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781789744651

If you will be searching for a Lent book to study during the 40 days (excluding Sundays) and if, like me, you have never studied the book of Numbers, now may be the time to take up this book. The author has divided it into six parts with a reading, reflection and prayer for each day beginning on Ash Wednesday. As well as the daily Numbers reading there is also a New Testament passage which complements, picks up one issue and is beautifully linked; it helps us to understand and expand on journeying to the promised land. The wilderness clearly places the reader in the geographical location of Sinai and the Red Sea, and it also highlights the trials, struggles and setbacks of those journeying at that time. However, the author’s choice of New Testament texts also highlights God’s grace, saving them, guiding them, protecting them, loving them.

Of course, this is not just about the journey of long ago, the book causes us to reflect on our own journeys – never straightforward, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes painful, sometimes hard work; but we are reminded that we are never alone, God is beside us whether we recognise him or not. This is a very personal journey, should you accept the challenge. However. it could work as the focus of a small intimate study group where sharing might be a little risky but could also encourage us to be supportive and understanding of one another as we journey together through life. It reminds us that we are never alone, for God is always beside us, and we will eventually arrive at the promised land.

Reviewed by Sue Piper

Editor’s note: This review was previously published in the digital edition of Transforming Ministry, January 2024.



The Way of Love: 40 Days of Reflections on the Commandments

The Way of Love: 40 Days of Reflections on the Commandments

Author Steven Croft
Publisher CHP £3.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781781402719

Bishop Steven Croft has used his wide knowledge of the Bible and his considerable pastoral expertise to produce a handy pocket guide to the Ten Commandments. It is the fourth in the ‘Pilgrim Journeys’ series – the others have featured the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creeds – and it serves as an ideal companion for the forty days of Lent. I was struck however by the possibility that it would also be an excellent guide for those preparing for adult baptism or confirmation. I am sure this is right.

The strengths of the book are found firstly in the overarching emphasis on love – love for God, love for our neighbour, love for the wider world, love for creation. Secondly, I was impressed by the selection of forty different Bible passages for study and reflection. Bishop Steven has chosen well, balancing the familiar (John 3:1-17, Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13) with much less well-known passages (Song of Solomon 2:8-17, 2 Kings 7:3-11 – the intriguing story of the leprous men who realised they had a loving responsibility towards their community). He also chooses Psalms with subtle messages such as Psalm 15 and Psalm 131 and reminds us that the seemingly monotonous refrain of Psalm 136 (…his steadfast love endures forever…) has formidable notes of strength, faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness. Nor is he afraid to choose passages which show God’s people breaking the commandments – for example, the narrative of the idolatrous golden calf, David’s adultery with Bathsheba and Paul’s strictures on sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6).

The subsequent reflections are short, pithy and instructive and are followed by prayers (often well-known) and some suggested actions. This is a good book for Lent, and its dedicated and consistent use, whether for personal devotion or as a group resource, should help many to deepen their commitment and discipleship.

I recommend this booklet, for it not only takes us back to basics, but also pushes us forward to new horizons of faith. It is also available from Church House Publishing in packs of 10 (£32) or even 50 (£150), to enable whole congregations to join the daily study.

Reviewed by Alice Burdett



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