River through the Desert – a lenten journey in the holy land
Jerusalem: St. George’s College, 2022
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Mini Review by: Andrew D. Mayes
This exciting new resource from the Dean of St George’s College, Jerusalem reassures us that Lent can be a time, not only for disciplines but also for lifeenhancing rediscovery of discipleship and prayer – as the desert for Jesus was not all about grappling with temptation but a formative time in which he listened to his Father and clarified the message coming from his lips as he emerged from his ‘quarantine’: ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand!’ The essential purpose of this book is to lead us onto Lenten pathways of hope, refreshment and renewal, as found in the Land of the Holy One: to discover and enjoy a ‘river through the desert’.
Writing in a personable, direct and highly readable style, Dean Richard invites us to revisit the biblical desert, well, mountain, sea, road and garden of Lent. The pandemic forced the closure of St George’s College for two full years, but necessity is the mother of invention, and not being able to welcome students and pilgrims physically to the Holy Land, Dean Richard invites us to visit virtually, as beautiful short videos accompany each of the six chapters and immerse the viewer into each landscape. This is the special bonus of this userfriendly resource, creatively employing t h e m e d i u m o f video to deepen the unfolding journey of the book, which is also wellillustrated with colour photos. Each chapter is in four parts: an insightful reflection, video-link, Scripture (printed out), concluding with penetrating and challenging questions to consider, which powerfully encourage the pilgrim-readers to take another look at their lives of faith. These questions manage to avoid the ever-present danger among pilgrims to concentrate solely on their own personal lives of devotion: there are questions that alert us to society and the wider world – maybe a few more on issues of social justice might have been helpful.
This is a resource – both for individuals and groups – that heartens and challenges. It will surely whet the appetite for a real-time visit to the Holy Land – via St George’s College, of course!
Featured in Bible Lands, Summer 2022