Summer Reading with Hope’s Pastors

The schools are out! The mercury is rising! The Snowbirds are gone, and the grandkids are arriving!

Summer is here! And if your summer plans include enjoying a few great books, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re hitting the beach, lounging by the pool, or staying in the AC, Hope’s pastors have some Summer Reading Suggestions to keep you entertained this season!

Pastor Jon-Marc MacLean:
The Great Divorce (1945) by C.S. Lewis

Pastor Jon-Marc says, “The love of reading is one of the greatest legacies we can instill in our children. I come from a long line of avid readers and have been shaped in attitude, action, and theology by the many authors who have had conversations with me through the pages of their writings. My library spans a myriad of styles, topics, and eras and has led to a rather eclectic view of ‘what is worth reading’. The rather simple request from our staff member Marina to ‘recommend a summer reading book’ is actually quite difficult. I can’t simply offer something I’m reading or enjoying because many of those books don’t do well for mass consumption. The Work of the Pastor by William Still?  Or how about The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton? Perhaps something fanciful like Butcher’s The Aeronauts Windlass. There’s a lot to consider…but, then, there’s always C.S. Lewis.

“C.S. Lewis has been my guide on the journey of life for almost as long as I could hold a book. I have found wisdom, knowledge, instruction, and counsel within his writings. I enjoyed his fantasy works as a child and still read them every few years, always finding some new insight or piece of wisdom I somehow missed in the previous readings. He has written many essays, novels, and books. So, which to offer to you this summer?

“I invite you to join me on a journey…a holiday of sorts…as we take a bus trip with our host. What follows is a story that brings us face to face with our humanity, our sinfulness, and our selves. We are confronted by people in situations that may strike a little too close for comfort, and others that open our minds and hearts to consider the struggles of others. In each of these, we are invited to see God’s amazing grace at work as it encourages, heals, and transforms the characters. So, pack a lunch, pour a cup of coffee, and settle in for a short tale that encompasses the human condition and the scope of grace.”

Pastor Rani Abdulmasih:
The Cost of Discipleship (1937) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pastor Rani says, “One of my favorite books to read has been “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, published in 1937. Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor, known for his opposition to the Nazi regime at that time. He was a passionate advocate for truth and justice, even if it meant putting his own life on the line…and that he did. He was executed in 1945. 

“In this book, Bonhoeffer talks about what it means to follow Jesus. He writes some of the most profound statements on how grace can be at times perceived as ‘cheap’ when in reality it is very ‘costly.’ Bonhoeffer defines ‘cheap grace’ as ‘the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.’ By contrast, in defining what he refers to as ‘costly grace’, Bonhoeffer writes: ‘Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.’

“What a beautiful way to describe the amazing and awesome love of God who has given us everything through His Son, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

“I encourage you to read this book as a meditation on God’s unconditional love, and what it means to live in response to His amazing grace.”

Pastor Bruce Dillman:
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row (2018) by Anthony Ray Hinton

Pastor Bruce says, “This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I was only a couple of chapters in when I knew I was reading a book that was going to deeply change me. I hadn’t even finished the book, and I used a story from it in a sermon last summer. By the time I had finished the book, I had used it in sermons two or three more times. It is a story of grace and forgiveness on the part of Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent almost 30 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. His journey from faith, to despair, to a new faith in the midst of his horrible daily reality, is inspirational. The effect he had on his fellow prisoners, the guards and even his own lawyer (who wrote the introduction to the book) is unbelievable. For those of us looking for the presence of God ‘among us’ in the depths of despair, this book speaks of the hope that a Christian should know every day of our lives.”