Book Review: Living the Christian Year
Author: Bobby Gross
Publisher: InterVarsity Press ISBN: 9780830835201
I don’t know why I haven’t shared my review of this book sooner. I’ve owned the book since it was first published in August of 2009 (actually, I bought it from Amazon.com in mid-September 2009), but I bought it almost as soon as it was available. The reason I take the time to write the review now is because of the cumulative effect and influence this book, along with a few others, has had with shaping my Christian spirituality.
Although I have espoused Christian ideals most of my life, my church tradition has never practiced the church calendar (Liturgical Year) faithfully; consequently, my first real introduction to the liturgical calendar was back in 2007 when I purchased a copy of Thomas Oden’s Ancient Christian Devotional. Following this first elementary introduction and remedial practice year (for me), I started to self-educate and learn more about this ancient discipline of living the Christian year.
When 2009 arrived, and I started my search for Liturgical Year devotional material and other resources I could use in my education, Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross appeared near the top of my Amazon search. I appreciated and respected a number of the voices offering endorsements for this book, so I purchased it. I can report that this has become one of my favorite book purchases from the past three years.
Bobby calls this book an introduction and devotional guide and this is an honest and faithful representation of the book. Those words; however, do not share the richness and overflowing experience that Living the Christian Year offers to the person who hungers for a deeper and more meaningful understanding to the Story of God lived out daily in their life throughout the year.
There are a total of eight chapters in Living the Christian Year. The first chapter serves as an introduction to the Christian year and an overview of the practices observed throughout the year. Following the introduction chapter, the book is sectioned into three parts which outline the primary movements through the Christian year. Part one is the Cycle of Light and teaches the seasons of observances of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Part two is the Cycle of Life and the observances of Lent, The Paschal Triduum, and Easter. Part three concludes the seasons with an explanation on the observance of Ordinary Time. As mentioned earlier, the book is much, much more than knowledge teaching about this discipline. There are 52-wks of devotional reading, exercises, and prayers to assist the reader-observer through the practice of living out the Christian Year. I used the book for both purposes; (1) as a learning tool, (2) as a devotional help. I cannot express enough how blessed I was with this book as my companion through the 2009-2010 Christian Year.
The years that have followed my first reading of this most excellent devotional guide, has found me pulling it from my library shelf again and again. Such is the case and the impetus for this review. We are approaching the 2012-2013 Christian New Year and I am preparing for what is now a regular discipline in my life… living, observing, and practicing the Christian Year as a means of staying connected to the Universal Church and the God who reigns over it.
This truly is a fabulous and beautiful resource for Living the Christian Year. It has become a staple in the list of growing resources I have for practicing this ancient and rich Christian discipline. I continue to recommend this writing as one of my top resources for learning about the Christian Year.