A Passage Through Sacred History: Lenten Reflections for Individuals and Groups
Author: Don C. Skinner
Publisher: Cleveland, Ohio: United Church Press
96 pages, ISBN: 0-8298-1216-4
Reviewed by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Don C. Skinner, at the time of writing this little volume, was a retired United Church of Christ minister living in Forest Grove, Oregon.
The volume contains a brief Introduction and seven chapters. Rev. Skinner suggests that the book be read, studied, and discussed one chapter at a time to coincide with the seven weeks of Lent.
The format is as follows: i) A quotation at the beginning of each chapter, from various sources, attempting to compliment the theme of each chapter. ii) The chapter’s content material, based on one or more passages from the Bible. iii) Questions for discussion, which may also lead to further study and research.
In chapter one, the author focuses on the story of God’s promise made to Abraham and Sarah, and the Hebrew concept of hesed, “radical faithfulness” (p. 7) as a description of God’s character—meaning that God can be trusted to carry out and honour his promise.
Chapter two looks at God’s covenant with Moses and the Israelites, and emphasizes that a covenant is more like a marriage than a contract.
In chapter three Rev. Skinner points out one of the oldest theological conundrums for Israel’s prophets—the dialectic of right worship and right action, ritual and social justice, and the tension these often create.
Chapter four makes the case for the Jewishness of Jesus, the gospel accounts of his compassion for his own people in his public ministry, and a needed emphasis that there is no place for anti-Semitism among Christians.
In chapter five the author draws some parallels between the Passover and the Last/Lord’s Supper.
Chapter six focuses on the Christian celebration of Pentecost, which is rooted in the Jewish Feast of Weeks. God offers his grace to Israel in the gift of the law. God offers his grace to Christians in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the final chapter, the author tells a couple of contemporary stories, highlighting unity and diversity, and acts of kindness and mercy in the church.
This volume has the potential to be a helpful and edificatory resource for the season of Lent.