7—13 January 2008

Issue No. 2               

He acknowledges that “the Bible mentioned nothing of . . . Lent.”

 

But,

 

when we humbly and reverently observe this 40-day period, it can prepare us to enter deep into the passion of our Lord Jesus, to appreciate and own again the crucifixion and resurrection as our

salvation story.  Lent every year is to take an annual journey of renewal(p.2).

 

The book consists of 6-week readings and is versatile to use as a devotional guide, as a resource for personal reflection, reading and praying.  The content of each daily reading is designed with the “twin approach of exegesis and lectio divina” (see Introduction),

 

Exegesis [helps to] bring the reader deeper into contemplation and an experiential encounter with God.  Careful exegesis helps to establish the proper context for meditation.

 

Lectio divina is a relational and personal reading of God’s Word . . .. It is an in-depth dwelling on God’s Word. 

 

The twin approach is well illustrated in Reading for Day 21 to demonstrate

 

when exegesis and lectio divina come together, we have the rational and the relational, cognition and affection, analysis and rumination, study and prayer complementing each other to make Scriptures an engaging study experience and the Lord a real personal Presence (p. 57).

 

Suffice to say, John’s degrees in the Master of Divinity, Master in Christian Studies, Master of Theology in Spiritual Theology coupled with his ministry experience and as the Retreat Director of Trinity Life Centre would qualify him to  implement the “twin approach” for spiritual formation. 

 

A variety of teaching strategies and learning activities are built into each daily reading to bring out the essence of the content by engaging and involving readers in examining the texts.  For example, the clever use of questions to provoke thinking (pp.113):

 

Good Friday was yesterday.  Sunday is tomorrow. But what happened on Holy Saturday?

 

Holy Saturday was actually the Sabbath day of the disciples. So,How did Peter spend his Sabbath?

How did Judas spend his Sabbath? How did John spend his Sabbath?

 

Then a question for the reader,

 

“Can you see then that we need to pass through our own Holy Saturday?’’  (See p. 114 for the ‘answer’).

 

Readers are also invited to use the given web sites to listen to the audio version of the texts to sharpen their listening skills to gain insights and express their thoughts about the devotional reading for the day (p.88).

 

The author did not write the book “for” contemplation but to help readers “to” contemplate.  He accomplishes this purpose with testimonies of his personal discoveries and struggles in the Upper Room.

 

A book recommended for those who wish to embark on a Good Friday experience and Easter celebration with a difference.

 

 

*John Chong Ser Choon is a part-time Faculty in Spiritual Theology at BGST.  He will be teaching   “Spirituality for Christian Formation in Apr-May 2008 and “Spirituality Retreat: Nature, Purpose  & Dynamics” in Oct-Nov 2008.

 

 

 

 

A “Good Book” Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng

The book begins with an invitation to the followers of Jesus Christ to an annual re-entry into the Upper Room.  The invitation calls for active learning to contemplate the conversations Jesus had with his disciples captured in the Gospel of John, chapters thirteen to seventeen.  These conversations were not mere casual talks over a meal but the Master Teacher’s serious teaching on his life in the Trinity and his works on the Cross, aptly described by the author as the “dramatic unfolding of God’s salvation story” (p. 1).

 

The disciples had no idea that the supper with the Lord would be their last with him.  Equally a puzzle to them was the Lord’s enigmatic conversation piece, “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me” (John 16:16).

What was he talking about?

 

But we know the answer.  We are familiar with the Upper Room narratives and our memory is jolted annually by the Good Friday service and the Easter Sunday Celebration in church.  Familiar knowledge can breed a “complacent affirmation of the triumph of the cross,” says John (p. 1).    To him, “here is where the season of Lent helps.”  He explains,

 

Since the birth of Christianity, Christians worldwide have commemorated Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  By the 4th century A. D., the celebration of pivotal events of Christianity had evolved into a 40-day fast leading to Easter.  This is the period now known as Lent(p.1).

In the Upper Room: Lenten Meditations on Jesus’ Conversations with His Disciples. 

By John Chong Ser Choon.  Singapore: Armour Publishing, 2007, 122pp.

Text Box: Learning to Lose


I learn to lose:
my valuable free time
my peace and order
my good conscience
my security

but more:
my gifts
my successes
my memories of    things spiritual
my high goals
the joy of repentance

yet more:
your nearness
your consolation
your word
your plans with me
your expected leading

but still more:
even you, Lord, I have to lose,
you have to slip out of my secure grip
so that I have to regain you differently
than I have ever had you.

(A reflection by Ulrich Schaffer in Greater Than Our Hearts, 
Hodder & Stoughton, 1983)

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