The Living Cross: Exploring God’s gift of forgiveness and new life
Amy Boucher Pye, BRF, 2016

£8.99 (Approx)
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Overview

What does it say on the tin?

Explore the freeing, life-changing nature of forgiveness…

As we move from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day, daily reflections and prayers help us to experience the living power of the cross of Christ through biblical and modern-day stories of wrongdoing and forgiveness.

BRF Lent book

What do you get?

Paperback book with 6-plus weeks’ worth of daily readings, each with a reflection from Amy Boucher Pye, and a prayer. Begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Day. Every 7 days there is a section entitled Spiritual exercises and questions for individual reflection and group discussion.

Week 1: Fallen Heroes – The Israelite Founders
Week 2: Flawed by Forgiven Kings
Week 3: The Prophets – Calling God’s People to Return
Week 4: Jesus Forgives
Week 5: Empowered by the Spirit – The Early Church
Holy Week: Forgiveness Enacted – The Passion of Jesus

Who is it for?

Small groups, individual. Growing. Adult.

Review

  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    An inspiring addition to your Lent options, Boucher Pye brings us challenge and thoughtfulness through a refreshing range of biblical material. The chief focus on forgiveness in many different contexts, both biblical and contemporary, is realistic and deeply helpful without being prescriptive.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    This is created as an individual resource, primarily, so is set out traditionally with reading, reflection and prayer for each day, with Spiritual exercises at the end of each week. All is clear and helpful.

    How accessible are the leader’s notes?

    A bit of creativity will be needed to make the most of this resource as it is unashamedly written for individuals – however, the six or so questions for the weeks’ discussions are very good; and the Spiritual exercises for each section would be great for a group. Each section has about three suggestions for these. They range from fashioning a cross to pin repented-of sins to, to a prayer wall, burying hurt into plant pots, using Lectio Divina… there is a wonderful variety, and some are bound to appeal.

    Who could lead it?

    Someone with a bit of imagination

    How helpful are the participants’ resources?

    All will need a copy of the book for the daily readings. The scripture is printed out in full; the reflections are a couple of pages long; there is a written prayer at the end which thoroughly picks up the theme.

    How good is any digital material?

    N/A

    How much prep will I have to do?

    Crafting the meeting with perhaps music, icebreaker and prayer; deciding whether to use one reflection; deciding how much of the spiritual exercise section to engage with, and preparing for it.

    Is there website support? Links?

    N/A

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    This will be up to the group and its leader. While there are some very good questions at the end of each week’s readings, within the exercises section, everything else is up to the leader. However, the readings include much thought-provoking material, so this should prompt good discussion.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Lots of reading; but the opportunity to do more interactive activities and share responses to the material from the week will help learning and growing.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    As long as the group are up for the daily readings, this will work well.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Some of the exercises will be helpful and enlightening, with good leadership to encourage this.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    All the material is based around a passage from the Bible, with an equal spread of these from both Old and New Testaments.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    The biblical material is printed in full for each day, with a page or so of reflection following, then a prayer. The group/individual exercises refer to the previous week’s readings; more passages are also suggested. The themes cover a wonderful range of some of the major implications of Christian belief, but in helpful ways that are easy to relate to.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    The reflections are very well rooted in everyday life, with direct consideration and application of the themes, that include examples and real-life stories. The reflections around relationships and forgiveness are particularly strong.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Widely applicable.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    There is good inspiration here to work through how our faith affects our lives and behaviour. Inspirational stories of how it has done so for others bring challenge and possibilities to light. Small steps take these forward and make following the Jesus way doable.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    The written prayers in particular encourage us to respond personally – and would be a great starting place for those who are struggling with particular issues (such as forgiveness) or indeed, with just how to pray.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Brilliant variety of biblical study here which mixes well-known passages with less commonly studied ones. Just digging into the Bible in this way will stretch faith well.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Boucher Pye weaves both biblical truth and real-life examples together seamlessly; memorable stories illustrate well the possibilities of the dramatic and liberating impact that really following Jesus can have. A myriad of examples are brought in to the consideration of forgiveness – personal, church-based, national, in the community, because of betrayal, murder… None are treated lightly; none are avoided; all are brought to the cross.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    The cost of this is highlighted, with acknowledgement of the places where it leads to persecution.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Lots of examples of where this has and is happening.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Awareness of things like persecution, and the need for forgiveness on national and community scales.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a focus, but stories included from around the globe.

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