I would like to commend to you Archbishop Justin’s Lent book for 2020 by Ruth Valerio as a book that can be easily read either by individuals or a group. It can be studied in a home group or lent group. It can be used individually as a reflective exercise throughout Lent or indeed it can be an aid to discipleship at any time of year, not only in Lent.
Ruth works for the well known Christian organisation, Tearfund and previously for the UK branch of A Rocha. She is described as an environmentalist, theologian and social activist and Saying Yes to Life is her third book, released in the UK in December 2019.
After quite a surprise at the beginning of her introduction ‘In the Beginning’ (I won’t spoil it for you!), making this reader wonder where the book would take me, Ruth leads the way to a creative, informative, example-filled, biblical and theological look at life and the world we inhabit. And this is all couched in the Lenten journey towards Good Friday and Easter.
The book is based on the first creation story in Genesis and each chapter reflects a day in creation – what happens, what she thinks it might mean, what it looks look like today and how we might act on what we know. She quotes the mantra from Tearfund, namely, Pray Act Give. This is a very practical book looking at topics such as deforestation, economic inequalities, light pollution, bird migrations and a host of others, as well as delving into some insightful theological signposts. There are quotes from a very wide range of other authors and authorities and in each chapter she furnishes us with some stark and revealing facts as well as some truly deep insights into the bible and theology. The book is also easy to read and each chapter follows a similar pattern.
There are moments when hearts can soar in joy, and times of deep challenge because of how we have treated the earth. There are stories, poems, prayers, songs, narratives, prose and questions. Indeed each chapter ends with some carefully crafted questions that a group may want to tackle. And there are other internet resources and interviews that are well worth considering.
With an introduction from Archbishop Justin commending a period of reflection in Lent 2020, he says: This year, I hope you might spend some time thinking about our reconciliation with God’s creation as we explore the creation story of Genesis 1 together. Ruth Valerio’s book is perfect for individuals and groups to think, reflect and be challenged together.
I add my encouragement to all of us to read this positive and reflective Lent 2020 book.
The Right Revd Peter Hancock
Bishop of Bath and Wells
Ruth Valerio’s book, Saying Yes to Life is out in paperback priced at £9.99.
There is a 20 per cent discount on the SPCK website when using the code SAYINGYES20. Bulk orders may offer higher discounts – email Rowan Miller on for more information.