the Bethlehem Road
Author Rachel Boulding
Publisher BRF Centenary Classics £14.99 New edition 2022
Based on biblical readings from the lectionary for every day from the beginning of December until 6 January, this Advent book uses poetic references to illuminate our thoughts. The passages are treated thematically, based on the traditional themes of Advent – death , judgement, heaven and hell – then move on to ideas about Christmas, the new life of the Incarnation and the cherishing of the world into which God came. The author uses ‘the craft and expertise’ of a variety of poets, some traditional and well-known, some less familiar. While Rachel Boulding admits that none of them wrote specifically to deepen the faith of twenty-first century readers, there is much spiritual insight to be gained from their works. It is good to have the Bible passage included for each day and the use of comment and poetry certainly illuminates the passage, although at times, I would have appreciated more of the particular poem being included; some extracts are very brief. Even so, there are riches here, and in the reflection which concludes each day’s entry. This is an excellent volume for personal, daily use but also has questions for discussion and reflection, which opens it up for wider, group use. As an attractive, hard-backed volume, this book would make an excellent pre-Christmas gift.
Reviewed by MARGARET TINSLEY