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Means of Grace: A Year of Weekly Devotions.

Means of Grace: A Year of Weekly Devotions

Fleming Rutledge, edited by Laura Bardolph Hubers

EERDMANS, 279 PAGES

As a pastor, I am always looking for a new devotional book that will help to nourish and sustain readers in their faith. I look for these devotional books in order to have them at the ready as recommendations for others upon request, as well as for my own spiritual deepening. Regularly, I receive requests from parishioners, neighbors, other soccer moms, dog moms and colleagues, asking what new devotional reading I'm aware of, as well as what I might recommend for spiritual edification. My personal practice is to read some kind of devotional material before bed as a way to calm my heart and nourish my soul.

With that background in mind, imagine my delight upon discovering Fleming Rutledge's "Means of Grace." The book, lovingly edited by Rutledge's longtime editor and dear friend, Laura Bardolph Hubers, provides the reader with a thoughtful and thought-provoking weekly sermon based on one of the Revised Common Lectionary readings. The readings are not based on any year in particular (A, B or C), but are appropriate for each Lord's Day during the Christian calendar year. The book is organized by seasons of the church year beginning, of course, in Advent. Each sermon concludes with a traditional collect as is familiar in the Episcopal Church (which is the denomination into which Rutledge is ordained).

In her sermons, Rutledge practices what she was taught by her "revered homiletics professor" who insisted that "the preacher should always illustrate, never exhort. The Bible does not argue in favor of its positions. The Bible shows God powerfully at work and calls people to participate in what God is already doing." In her sermons, as in Scripture, "we encounter not 'life lessons' or 'timeless teaching' but the living God present and acting in the story of redemption." I found this way of preaching to be refreshing food for the spirit and perfect for those who seek to deepen their Christian walk and receive a nourishing word from the Lord.

I recommend this book of sermons to be used as devotional reading for those who are familiar with the Christian liturgical calendar and seek to grow in faith. When readers encounter the lectionary Scripture and then read Rutledge's sermon on that text, the one who is hungry will receive rich spiritual food.

Personally, I will recommend the book to those who inquire about resources they may peruse that provide spiritual sustenance for their journey. The book is also helpful for preachers who enjoy reading sermons based on the lectionary passages they are mulling over themselves.

Rutledge seemingly without effort weaves her wide breadth of knowledge of Scripture, poetry, literature, science and human frailty throughout each sermon. Upon concluding each sermon, the reader feels more worldly, knowledgeable and nearer to God. This devotional book is itself a means of grace for those who take it up to read. Church folk, preachers and those who seek a nourishing word from the Lord will find that sought after nourishment in "Means of Grace."

EMILY BERMAN D'ANDREA serves as pastor and head of staff at Potomac Presbyterian Church in Potomac, Maryland.

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Author:D'Andrea, Emily Berman
Publication:The Presbyterian Outlook
Date:Jul 5, 2021
Words:535
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