Book Review – Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of St. Patrick

stpatrickWhat an inspiring book.

Practical.  Easy to read.  Insightful.  Story-filled.  Honest.  Vulnerable.

Using stories from the life of St. Patrick, Alcoholics Anonymous, his own life, and ultimately Jesus, Jamie Arpin-Ricci is able to get the heart of the spiritual journey and makes the story of radical faith accessible to all.

Writing about spirituality is never easy, as it is always a nuanced conversation that relies heavily on metaphor. But Jamie cuts right to the heart of a discipleship that will lead us to experience freedom, honesty, radical hospitality, genuine community, and transformation.

I’ve only had the book for one week, and I’ve found myself not only referencing it in multiple conversations, but also recommending it everywhere I go.  Why?  I think that when we’re able to be vulnerable, and let go of our pretense and fears, then we’re on the path of opening ourselves up  to loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves.

Even now, I find myself tongue tied when speaking about the book, because all I want to say is “Do yourself a favour and read this book!”

** Jamie provided me with a copy of his book for review.  I’m glad he did.  You can buy it here. **


Crafts and Cowheads

A short reflection from our Easter Morning gathering

On Maundy Thursday, we had a service of shadows where we remembered the last moments of Jesus before his crucifixion.  The conversations.  The betrayal.  The love.  And the last supper.

Communion.  Bread and wine.

The Latin word for Communion is “Eucharist.”  The “EU” part of the Eucharist means “good.”  And the “Charist” parts means “grace”, or “gift”.  Thus, the Eucharist, communion, the bread and the wine, means, “the good gift”.

Have you ever put a lot of time, energy, thought, money or sweat, into a gift?  You fought the crowds on Boxing Day.  You scoured the internet for just the right gift?  You worked really hard on something and couldn’t wait to give it to them?  Every time I leave home because of work, I come back and my kids have made me a craft or a card that they worked hard on, and with great joy I put them up in my office. These are good gifts.

Or, have you seen something for sale 8 months before someone’s birthday, and you bought it because you knew thcowheadat they’d love it?   This is a cow head with a bottle in it.   It is one of my most prized possessions. Ashley’s sister spent a year in Bolivia with MCC’s SALT program, and in her first month there she saw this cow head and thought:  “Kyle.”  I think she was just as excited to give it to me as I was to receive.

Sometimes, gifts have so much love and energy put into them, it’s like someone broke themselves open and poured themselves out so that you could find life.

“Someone broke themselves open and poured themselves out so that you could find life.

This is how good gifts work.

For someone to receive, someone has had to give.

For someone to eat, someone has to provide the food.

For someone to be inspired, someone had to inspire them.

For someone to love, someone was loved somewhere. 

This is the good gift.  This is the Eucharist. Someone broke themselves open and poured themselves out so that you could find life.” Rob Bell and Don Golden, in Jesus wants to save Christians.

After the last supper, Jesus was crucified.  Jesus was literally broken open and poured out.  On the cross, all the principalities and powers did their worst to Jesus.  Jesus tried showing the world a new way to live, a way of radical love but and all the violence and betrayal and suffering and hatred in the world ganged up, and killed him.

Jesus’ love, led to his death.

Or, as Richard Rohr says, Great love ALWAYS leads to great suffering.

Those of us with kids know this.  Great loves always leads to great suffering.

Those of us with parents know this.  Great love always leads to great suffering.

Those of us with grandparents and grandkids, siblings and cousins, friends and co workers – Great love always leads to great suffering.

But on Easter morning, we remember that this is not the end of the story.  Because here’s the thing about giving gifts.  Even when we put all sorts of effort into giving a gift, when we spend money and fight the crowds and our children labour over the popsicle stick crafts to give us parents, we know that giving the gift is worth it.  We know that all of the our hard work, our anxiety, our hours spent potty training our toddlers and the hours spent sitting beside hospital beds… Suffering isn’t the last word.  We know there’s redemption at the end of the story.  We know about new life.   We know about hope. We know about resurrection.

And this good gift keeps giving.  Jesus is broken open and poured out so that we can find life.  And once we find ourselves in this story, we “open ourselves up to the mystery of resurrection… allowing our bodies to be broken and our blood to be poured, discovering our Eucharist, our good gift, to share with the world.”  (Rob Bell – Jesus wants to save Christians)

This is why, at the Last Super, Jesus tells his disciples:  “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Because of his great love, Jesus suffers, because great love always leads to great suffering.  Jesus is broken open and poured out, but in the midst of that, we find resurrection.

And so, because of our great love, we give our lives as gifts to the world, and often, in the midst of us giving our lives, we find resurrection.  We find hope.  We find new life.

Death and suffering don’t win.  We believe that love wins.  Every time.  We believe in the Good Gift.  We believe that Jesus saves us.  That Jesus rescues us.  We believe in resurrection.