Lent Book Discussion Ends

He is risen!

Thank you to all who participated in this very meaningful and timely book discussion. I am personally touched by the breadth and depth of the comments.

It is quite amazing, as some have pointed out, just how applicable In the Name of Jesus is today, nearly thirty years after being published.

I trust the book our Lent discussion has been a blessing to each and every one of you.

On behalf of everyone – all of our active participants as well as you silent, yet appreciative, lurkers – I wish to extend very special thanks to Ray Glennon for his gracious and faithful leadership. These book discussions wouldn’t happen without Ray and his co-facilitator Brynn Lawrence (hopefully, Brynn will be back with us for the Advent book beginning in November.)

I want to take a moment to remind you there will be two new publications in 2016 that I am sure you will enjoy. On May 10, HarperCollins is releasing The Spiritual Life, a compilation of eight of Henri Nouwen’s most significant works. You can pre-order the book here. It’ll make for wonderful summer reading!

And later this year a brand new publication titled Love, Henri (edited by our own Gabrielle Earnshaw!) will hit bookstore shelves. Henri was a prodigious letter writer. His letters were often deeply personal and pastoral. This new publication contains over 300 of Henri’s letters to friends and colleagues, all remarkably rich with spiritual insights and directions. Look for Love, Henri later this year.

Please consider joining us from June 9—11 for Way of the Heart, our first Henri Nouwen conference in 10 years! To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Henri’s death – and to celebrate his life and legacy, Way of the Heart is bringing together a host of incredible speakers and session leaders. What a great way to begin your summer. Details are available on our website.

We look forward to having you join us in November for the Advent book discussion. We’ll be announcing the book well in advance, so please check our website frequently.

He is risen, indeed!

Blessings & peace,

Mar 13 – Mar 19: Conclusion and Epilogue

Reading: Conclusion and Epilogue (p 91 to p 101)

We are coming to the end of our Lenten journey together.  This week Henri offers us the opportunity to look back along the path we have traveled; to reflect on what we have seen, heard, and learned; and, perhaps more important, to look ahead to where we are being led In the Name of Jesus in our lives and ministries.

In the conclusion Henri summarizes the insights he gained in his journey of downward mobility from Harvard to L’Arche.  And for Henri it was truly a “journey of the heart”— to use the title of a wonderful video about the Henri’s life.   This week you are encouraged to reflect, as Henri did, on how the temptations to be relevant, spectacular, and powerful influence your life, ministry, and role as a Christian leader today.  (And remember, we are all ministers and Christian leaders in our own way.)    Then consider how  Peter’s final encounter with Jesus in John’s Gospel might help you better understand your true calling. Finally, ponder the disciplines of contemplative prayer, confession and forgiveness, and theological reflection to see how you might adopt them as powerful tools for Christian leadership in your life.   Having done so, you are invited to share your thoughts and insights to the extent you are comfortable.

In the Epilogue Henri tells “the rest of the story”*  of his trip with Bill Van Buren to present these “Reflections on Christian Leadership” in Washington, DC.  Henri beautifully and powerfully reminds us that Jesus sent his disciples out together; similarly, Jesus calls us to share our spiritual journey, our ministry, and our Christian leadership with others.  One last question you might want to consider:  Who are the Bills in your life—the people with whom you meet in Jesus name (Matt 18:20) to help you to spread the good news of the Gospel message?  Share your thoughts.

As always,  I want to express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks to each of you that have made this such a worthwhile Lenten book discussion whether you posted comments or read and reflected silently.  I also want to thank Will Finlay at the Henri Nouwen Society for his support in making these discussions possible.  Lastly, I want to thank long-time moderator Brynn Lawrence for her inspiration and leadership of these discussion for many years. Brynn did not participate this Lent to devote her time to her husband and new baby Leo.

Let me leave you with this.   Upon landing in Toronto after the flight home from Washington, Henri said to Bill: “Thanks so much for coming with me.  It was a wonderful trip, and what we did, we did together in Jesus’ name.”  Those words apply equally well to those of you that have gathered here to share this Lenten journey together.  May each of you have a blessed Holy Week and Easter season, and may you live the rest of your life, In the Name of Jesus.

Peace and all good.

*A phrase made famous by radio commentator Paul Harvey.

Mar 6 – Mar 12: From Leading to Being Led

Reading: Part III – From Leading to Being Led (p 73 to p 90)

Once again, heartfelt thanks to each of you joining with us on our Lenten journey.  We are blessed by your presence whether you have posted comments or are traveling quietly.

This week we Henri guides us into the third stage of our exploration of Christian leadership in the 21st century.  He presents Jesus as a servant-leader—one who eschews power and becomes powerless out of love and leads others by humbly being led (to do the will of his Father).  Henri emphasizes that Jesus’ approach is so at odds with the ways of the secular world that leaders need to be trained to think with the mind of Christ if we are to lead as Jesus led.

You are encouraged to prayerfully reflect on the temptation posed by power, the challenge to be taken where you would rather not go, and the discipline of theological reflection and how they are related to your life and ministry, either now or in the past.  I’ve included three questions for your consideration.

1.  In introducing the temptation Henri writes: “The temptation to consider power an apt instrument for the proclamation of the Gospel is the greatest of all.”  Then he points to the common rationalization that power used in the service of God is a good thing—and that this rationalization led to many injustices done in the name of God.
a)  How do you respond to Henri’s view of power and the proclamation of the Gospel?  Have you experienced this on your spiritual journey?  What was the result?

2.  Henri describes a leadership of powerless and humility this way: “I am speaking of a leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favor of love.  It is a true spiritual leadership.” Henri goes on to say that this refers to people who love Jesus so deeply they are ready to trust him and  follow him wherever he leads.
a)  Have you seen true spiritual leadership practiced and what was the impact on those that were affected?  What steps can you take to move toward spiritual leadership in your own life and ministry?

3. Henri sets a near impossible standard for Christian leadership writing: “…the Christian leader thinks, speaks, and acts in the name of Jesus…  (must) discern…how God acts in human history… identify and announce the ways in which Jesus is leading God’s people out of slavery…”  He continues saying leaders must respond to life’s challenges with “an articulate faith in God’s real presence.” 
a)  Have you seen evidence that Henri’s vision of theological leadership is beginning to be realized in the 30 years since this book was published?  What steps could you take to move closer to theological leadership in your life?

There is a great deal to ponder this week. As always, you are encouraged so share your reflections, either on the questions or anything that touched you or you were drawn to in the reading.  We look forward to hearing from you.

May the Lord give you peace as you continue your Lenten journey.