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January 11th, 2013

A Book of Sparks – Lent Review

A Book of Sparks: review and Lent (yes, 38 days away) reading suggestion

Posted by Father Richard Peers SCP

Well, Epiphany is over if not Epiphany tide and Lent is only 38 days away.

A Book of Sparks is a tremendous book and would make great Lent reading for an individual or Lent group. Written by Baptist minister Shaun Lambert it is an extended meditation on the Gospel of Mark. It highlights two spiritual practices, Lectio Divina and the Jesus Prayer, the Learning Power work of Guy Claxton, Simon Walker’s Undefended Leaders and narcissism in leadership (plenty of material for my own examination of conscience …). Lambert’s Baptist/Evangelical roots stand him in good stead keeping the whole thing firmly Scriptural and dwelling on the mind as much as the heart with special emphasis on that powerful verse from 2 Corinthians (10:5). A section on masculinity and Mark’s Jesus as ‘the stronger one’ make this a book that is helpful to men and perhaps to men’s groups. References to Shaun’s own congregation and its life make it rooted firmly in community and so avoids being overly individualistic.

Underpinning the whole book is a sense of sustaining ‘watchfulness (see the Philokalia Shaun reminds us) as a form of Christian ‘mindFULLness’, full, that is, of the mind of Christ.

Shaun makes frequent and helpful references to culture, notably this painting by Odilon Redon:

The Mystical Boat

Not a painter I knew at all but having read more about him and the dream like quality of much of his work I want to find out more.

Shaun also refers to the song by Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised:

Scott Heron is an amazing musician standing at a cross over point between soul, blues and other black music from the States and later urban forms. He captures both anger with injustice together with love of all human beings. My favourite of his songs is – Peace Go With You Brother:

Now, more than ever, all the brethren must be together
Every brother, everywhere, feels the time is in the air
Time and blood flows through common veins
And in the common eyes all see the same
Now, more than ever, all the family must be together
Peace go with you, brother.

A Book of Sparks is not a ‘workbook’, or a ‘Lent course’ it has a section for each day of a forty day period, each section could be read alone. If you haven’t chosen your Lent book yet consider this. It is available on Kindle.

I have read A Book of Sparks twice through and now want to pray it more slowly. It has spoken deeply to me in my work where as Lambert puts it achieving the balance between “being purpose driven and openly playful” is so important and so difficult to achieve. It is a reminder that:

“As Christians we believe that we have  a relational God, who lives in a community of love – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

A Book of Sparks, Shaun Lambert, Instant Apostle ,2012

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