The first is The Shape of Living by David F. Ford. It was first published ten years ago as a Lent book chosen by the last Archbishop of Canterbury (whose forward in the latest edition has been replaced with one by Susan Howatch; make of that what you will.)
David is a professor of theology at the University of Cambridge, and has written a book that speaks about the things of everyday life. The focus of the book is the way we shape our lives in the midst of all of the forces and experiences that threaten to overwhelm us. He draws on his academic's knowledge of history, theology and Christian tradition, but uses them to offer practical wisdom as we respond to the threats and opportunities that come our way. He shows that allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by God is the best way not merely to cope with the overwhelmings of the world, but to thrive in the midst of them. Every chapter is realistic about the pain, business and emptiness of modern life, but he shows how we can turn those things to joy, stillness and riches.
An exceedingly wise, readable and practical book.
"...to concentrate on the face of Jesus Christ is to find our boundaries shifting and expanding as we slowly 'grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love'. This is someone whose hospitality is universal - face by face by face. To be before his face is to find that he is looking with love on all sorts of unexpected, marginalized or to us disagreeable people, as well as on us. Wherever he is he brings them as part of his community. So we find our heart is overwhelmed in new ways by those to whom his gaze, words and actions direct us. Even more broadly, as the mention of light in darkness underlines, all creation is embraced in this love, and we are invited to look with delight and responsibility on 'the face of the earth'."
Enjoy your pancakes tonight!