Reflections for Daily Prayer Advent 2023-Eve of Advent 2024

Reflections for Daily Prayer Advent
2023-Eve of Advent 2024

Author Ally Barrett et al.
Publisher CHP £17.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781781403952

At the front of this volume of reflections is a poignant memorial notice – a tribute to Canon Anna Matthews, one of the contributors, who died tragically in March 2023, shortly after submitting her contributions.

If you have previously used this annual volume you will know its great value in providing a focus on one of the daily lectionary readings (Monday-Saturday) for Morning Prayer. It helps to give rigour and discipline to daily worship within the rhythms of Anglican liturgy. Having used these reflections now for several years, I find that most of them stay in your mind throughout the day, and the finest stay for ever to be frequently re-told or recycled within sermons and talks. Surveying the list of eminent writers who have contributed, I am confident that this year will be no exception. Malcolm Guite, Rachel Mann, Angela Tilby and Lucy Winkett are perhaps the most familiar names, but all the contributions that I scanned represented original and helpful wisdom. I turned, of course, to the late Anna Matthews’ reflections, which were all on 1 Kings or 2 Kings, noting how she had penetrated these Old Testament narratives with modern theological insight. The whole book reminded me of the richness of God’s eternal word in scripture and the wisdom that accumulates in the minds of his devoted servants. Used well, this book will magnify your lectionary year.

It is available as a book, an ‘App’ for Apple and Android devices, for kindles and ‘epub’ formats.




The Deep End: Year of Mark

The Deep End: Year of Mark

Author Tríona Doherty & Jane Mellett
Publisher Messenger €19.95
Format pbk
ISBN 9781788126434

Lectionary Year B begins in Advent and most of our Sunday Gospel readings for the next twelve months will come from Mark, although we shall also hear from John’s Gospel during Lent, Easter and some other feasts. Many ministers will need a good modern guide to Mark, and I believe that this book amply provides this. The weekly reflections cover each Sunday’s Gospel and are designed to take ministers (and indeed members of congregations) deeper into each text, showing how scripture works in our lives today. The reflections are brief, but nonetheless profound. They are each followed by a section entitled ‘Go Deeper’ which suggests how the readings may influence our daily lives. Lectio Divina is encouraged. There is a valuable introduction to each liturgical season, including the ‘Season of Creation (1st September to 4th October).

This book should not, however, be regarded as a simple spiritual and liturgical guide, providing short insights into biblical soundbites. I found it theologically rich with a strong awareness of modern biblical scholarship on Mark – no longer the ‘Cinderella Gospel’. Although the two authors are Catholic women who studied together at Maynooth, this is certainly not a book exclusively for Catholics. It has a refreshingly ecumenical feel and should therefore be valued by Christians of all traditions. It penetrates to the heart of Mark’s remarkable theology, which challenges many traditional assumptions about Jesus and his disciples. I personally sympathised with the view that nearly all the men (and especially the disciples) in Mark are ‘scandalously weak’ while the women are almost invariably strong, determined characters. In many ways, Mark seems to have been ahead of his time and certainly held different views to his contemporary evangelists.

I recommend this book as a valuable and reliable guide, both for preaching and for personal formation, during 2023-24

Reviewed by KATE BURTON



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