Tuesday, 27 January 2015

52 Original Wisdom Stories ~ a new book

I’ve been waiting to tell you about this book, dears. It’s what I was working on through last year.

The title is 52 Original Wisdom Stories, and it's on pre-order on English Amazon at the moment, and will be on pre-order on US Amazon soon.

You might know my book of 100 Stand-Alone Bible Studies (and here on US Amazon) I wrote that because I couldn’t find anything quite like it for my own Bible study groups. There’s so much excellent material, but I always used to hit two particular problems with it. Most Bible studies have ice-breakers, a study passage to read, then questions on it, then life application suggestions. They top and tail that with chatting time at the beginning and prayer time at the end. My problems were always that there was too much material to cram into an evening unless the leader was quite assertive about hurrying people along from one exercise to the next, and that very often the questions were ones with a right/wrong answer.

I wanted to create study material that gave people space to really get into discussion without being told to stop and think about something different, and that had genuinely open questions that didn’t make people feel small or afraid because of the risk of being wrong. So my 100 Stand-Alone Bible Studies (UK, here) have a minimalist outline – just a study passage, a short commentary, three questions and a prayer. That means you can relax over your socializing before you begin, you can take as long as you like praying together at the end, and you can really get your teeth into the questions – which invite a lot of sharing about the group members’ own lives and perspectives. There’s also the advantage that someone with little or no experience in group leadership is given confidence, because the timing isn’t complicated to manage, you don’t need special interrupting and shutting-up skills, but everything you need (the words of the Bible passage and the prayer, the commentary and the questions) has been provided.

And as they are (as it says on the tin) stand-alone studies, they are perfect for filling in when a series has finished but you still have a week or two to go, or if you meant to prepare something but forgot. Though it’s not hard to make a series from the studies if you want to, as they are grouped in categories.

When I was writing it, to be sure that the structure I devised worked as intended, I sent out, to any group leaders who asked, a selection of their choice to try out with their group and let me know how they got on.

That book has proved very popular, and is going well.

So this new book is a kind of companion volume. The 100 Stand-Alone Bible Studies can be used for personal devotions as well as group work – and this new one is good for both as well.

It's also in the same vein as my Lent book, The Wilderness Within You (title linked to UK Amazon, picture linked to US Amazon), in that it's in dialogue/story format - though The Wilderness Within You was dialogues with Jesus, all on Lent themes.

This new one, the 52 Original Wisdom Stories, explores the cycle of the church year. This will be very familiar to some of you – it starts at the end of November or beginning of December with Advent, then come Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Trinity, then lots of Sundays of Ordinary time through Harvest and finishing up with All Saints and the Feast of Christ the King. But in the course of the year there are numerous saints’ days, and also special days like Ascension and Corpus Christi.

This book travels through the church year, with 52 seasonally appropriate pieces (so, one a week, plus a foreword and a special appendix). There are pieces about some of the most beloved saints, and in the stretches of Ordinary Time there are pieces that explore all sorts of questions and challenges belonging to life and faith.

Then, there’s an extra thing. Long ago, before the Roman form of Christianity was adopted in Great Britain, the church observed the forms of Celtic Christianity – our first evangelists were Celtic monks from Ireland via Scotland. Hardy people who lived simply, they penetrated some wilder parts of the British Isles that Augustine never reached. In their evangelizing, they worked with the old pre-Christian Celtic observances – natural folk religion based on the agricultural year. Rather than antagonizing the old ways, they developed connections and resonances with the Christian gospel.

So in this new book I’ve also included the old Celtic rhythm of faith, the ancient quarter-days following the equinoxes and solstices, and the cross-quarter-days that came halfway between.

The format of the book is based on a relationship between a married couple of early retirement age – Sid and Rosie. Each piece is a snapshot of their life and conversations together. They have both been married before, and come from different Christian backgrounds. Life has knocked them both around a bit, and caused them to do much soul-searching.

After each piece, three questions and a prayer are included. The material is of itself intended to provoke thought and discussion, but the questions are there to give further help.

Each piece is of such a length that it could be read aloud as the devotional input for a home-group or midweek church group meeting – or used in place of a sermon in a small church or at and evening service, where regular preaching may not be the standard pattern.

The book comes out this summer, and as before, I would like to offer you the opportunity to try out one or two of the pieces with your group, and see how you get on. I’ll list the contents at the end of this post. If you send me a comment with your email address and your choice of up to three pieces, I’ll email you PDFs of the ones you’ve chosen, and the foreword that explains the book.

Please be aware that I can only publish or delete comments that come in to me – I cannot edit, or publish just part of what you say. So if you have a general comment to make, send me that, and then send a second comment with your email address and choice of pieces to try out.


Foreword, then:

  1. Advent 1 – the Beginning
  2. Advent 2 – Harrowing Hell
  3. Advent 3 – the Missing Jesus
  4. Advent 4 – the Judge
  5. Christmas / Yul
  6. The feast of the Holy Family – Love wins
  7. Epiphany
  8. Candlemas / Imbolc / St Brigid
  9. Ash Wednesday
  10. Lent 1 – Wabibito
  11. Lent 2 – the Bell Curve
  12. Lent 3 – Love vast as the ocean
  13. Lent 4 – Mothering Sunday
  14. Lent 5 – Lazarus, come out!
  15. Feast of St Joseph
  16. Holy Week
  17. Easter
  18. Living the Ascension
  19. Beltane
  20. Pentecost
  21. Trinity – Emergent deity
  22. Feast of St Julian of Norwich
  23. Ordinary Time – Life
  24. Ordinary Time – Barking up the wrong tree
  25. Ordinary Time – Kairos
  26. Ordinary Time – Why Sid became a Quaker
  27. Corpus Christi
  28. The birth of St John the Baptist
  29. Ordinary Time – Abiding joy
  30. Ordinary Time – Ma
  31. Ordinary Time – the Formless
  32. Ordinary Time – Disapproval
  33. Feast of St Benedict
  34. Ordinary Time – You Have Enough
  35. Ordinary Time – Letting your life speak
  36. Ordinary Time – Taking it literally
  37. Lammas
  38. Ordinary Time – the Name of Jesus
  39. Ordinary Time – the presence of Jesus
  40. Feast of St Clare of Assisi
  41. Ordinary Time – Getting inside the light
  42. Ordinary Time – Last seen eating dandelion leaves
  43. Ordinary Time – Perfect Storm
  44. Feast of St Francis of Assisi
  45. Feast of St Michael and All Angels
  46. Feast of St Teresa of Avila
  47. St Luke’s Tide
  48. Martinmas
  49. Feast of St Hilda of Whitby
  50. All Hallows
  51. No Time
  52. Feast of Christ the King
  53. Appendix containing Sid’s recipe for lemon cheesecake.


beth said...

Thank you so much for sharing these chapters with us. I've listed my choices in a separate email as you indicated. I very much look forward to reading them.

Pen Wilcock said...

Thanks, Beth - got it safely. Will send them on to you. x

gail said...

Hi again Pen, I'm just reading for the third time The Road of Blessing and am again finding it's just what I need at this point in my life. The Wilderness Within is one I have actually bought for others to read as it made me feel as if I was walking right there with you and Jesus. Whilst your writing is quite challenging to me, I love the way it makes me feel as if we are sitting together having a real discussion and somehow you give me room to put my own thoughts into your writings, hence I have underlined many parts. I can't say I have ever found that with any other authors. I am looking forward to this next book.
Blessings Gail

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thank you! I've sent you three pieces as requested in your other comment. Let me know what you think! xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Marta and Ganeida - comments safely received and pieces sent out to you. xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Pieces sent on to you, Johannah. xx

Ganeida said...

Thanks, Pen. Safely received. Have had a quick read. Getting inside the Light really resonated with me but I will reread it properly & send proper feedback shortly. ♥

Pen Wilcock said...

Thanks, Ganeida. xx

Zillah, thanks for your comment - I'll email the pieces off to you today. xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the chapters, Pen. I’ve used the Holy Family one already! (this evening, with my 10 y.o. boy and nearly 12 y.o. girl, during the little ‘devotional’ time I try to spend with them daily). It worked wonderfully; there was great discussion and relevant prayer. I really enjoyed your thoughts in the Foreword as well, for many reasons (trying, with mixed success, not to be one of the 'Dones' but knowing many who walk with the Lord yet are done with the church, being a divorced and remarried Christian, trying to be careful towards the environment/Creation, knowing that the face of the church seems to be changing... your materials are bound to be relevant to many of us, Pen).

Blessings on you

Marta x

Pen Wilcock said...

Thanks, Marta - and I can see how that particular study could also work well with children, though in the main it's a book for adults. Thanks for letting me know how you got on!


Julie B. said...

I look forward to owning this book! Congratulations, Ember! xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thank you. xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Thanks for your email, Emily - I've sent along the pieces you asked for - when you've had a chance to try them out, do come back and comment how you got on. xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Khamneithang Vaiphei ~

Thank you so much for your enquiry. I have deleted it rather than publish it here, as it contained your personal contact details. I've sent your message along to my publisher, who has forwarded it to the department dealing with such requests for review copies. I hope you may hear from them shortly.
God bless you, and thank you for contacting me.