The Revd Graham Sykes reviews Abundant Life – Reflections on the Raising of Lazarus, Bishop Steven’s new resource for Lent
by Graham Sykes
I first reviewed some of the Rt Revd Steven Croft’s resources in the 1990s. He was a co-author of Emmaus the enquirers’ course designed to appeal to a wider constituency than Alpha or the Catholic Catechumenate course. I was impressed by the breadth of its appeal and the depth of the content. More recently he co-authored the Pilgrim Course which was simpler in presentation but very usable in helping to explore the faith for the first time or to reflect at a deeper level.
Bishop Steven once said to me that when you start thinking about particular issues, at first they seem simple, but the more you reflect the more complex you realize they are. As you reflect more deeply, that complex understanding leads to a simple way of expressing it. In Abundant Life I see the fruit of that methodology coming to life. It is a very simple, straight forward little booklet which is beautifully and appealingly packaged. It is designed to be used over 18 reflections during lent for individual study and personal reflection or gathering for group reflection once a week. I recommend that latter as in my experience hearing the reflections of others deepens our own understanding. I like the design feature that doesn’t have specific dates for each reflection so there is no guilt if you can’t do it on a specific day. Perhaps on some days you might choose to do more than one.
Each day gives a reading from John’s Gospel starting with the abundant life passage of Chapter 10. Each session has a short commentary and then some searching questions. The course follows on neatly from the Exploring the Beatitudes course that Bishop Steven wrote for Advent. Together they are designed to help the people of the Diocese of Oxford to reflect together on what it means to be a Christ-like Church, relentlessly pursuing the themes of what it means to be compassionate, contemplative and courageous. I recommend it as a resource which can help develop our missional thinking as individuals, churches and as a diocese.
The Revd Graham Sykes is a Chaplain at Oxford’s Sobell House Hospice and the Chair of the Door’s Editorial Support Group.
The Rt Revd Steven Croft is the Bishop of Oxford.
Order your copy of Abundant Life – reflections on the raising of Lazarus here.